The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 14, 2013

State revamps programs to help in job search

By Britney Milazzo
Associated Press

— STATE COLLEGE — The state Department of Labor and Industry has come up with a new way to help those looking for jobs gain employment.

Labor Secretary Julia Hearthway and a team from her office visited Centre County on Tuesday to acquaint residents with new departmental initiatives. One of them involves JobGateway, a state-run online job recruiting platform.

The site was launched last year and aimed at those who applied for employment compensation. At its height, the website had 40,000 job postings. But a recent revamp turned it into a more robust search engine, which now includes close to 200,000 job postings, Hearthway said.

“There is just a whole host of information that we provide that very little of it seems to be getting out into the public,” she said, “and we’ve done a couple things to make it readily available for people because it’s just valuable to individuals in making informed decisions, it’s valuable to policymakers and very valuable to the business community.”

JobGateway is available on the Web and as a mobile application.

A part of JobGateway is PA Career Coach, which includes labor statistics that incorporate ways for businesses to recruit potential employees and for job-seekers to get data on businesses.

“It’s a tool that we feel will provide informed decisions using labor stats we provided,” Hearthway said.

The program includes a resume builder, where people can find information to help formulate their resume. Individuals also can upload resumes in the system.

Additionally, people can look for specific occupations within certain ZIP codes that will generate real labor statistics that show what the job outlook is in the area, Hearthway said.

She added that the search engine would show the current data for occupation supply and demand and whether a career is trending.

It also will supply the searcher with a list of skill sets for a specific occupation, salary in the area for that job and schools nearby that would provide training.

“We did a lot of research on job matching,” Hearthway said. “What we found was that the programs available were very cookie-cutter-type programs that were restricted in data when an employer would get way too many resumes or the selection process would be so stringent that it was not providing resumes that fit the criteria, so we went a different route.”

An employer can register for free on the site and look for people in the database who will fit the job description through four criteria: educational, geography, salary and interest.

“We eventually want to get where we can have real-time Skype and online-type interviews, so these are things from a technical point of view that we can offer to individuals and provide that information,” Hearthway said.

She added that JobGateway would continue to evolve to help meet the needs of job-seekers and businesses looking for employees.

“The more people we have in the system, the more employers will want to come into the system,” Hearthway said.

The department also is working with the state Department of Education, for high schoolers looking for work or career paths. Another aspect is providing more information to veterans that include a military translation of their job skills with a civilian definition. For any veteran registered on the website, an American flag symbol is attached to their name to help businesses wanting to recruit veterans spot them more easily.

The largest industry sector in Pennsylvania is education and health services; however, manufacturing is increasing, Hearthway said.

Centre County has the state’s second lowest unemployment rate, at 6 percent. Analyst Steven Zellers said that is largely due to Penn State being the county’s largest employer, followed by the hospitality industry, health care and manufacturing.