Click: Workforce Center makes job search easier

— Get out of bed and look for a job, Carel Nickey urges, but don't bother to change out of your PJs.

"You don't even need to brush your teeth to go job hunting anymore," Nickey said.

Nickey is a job training specialist with the Steamboat Springs office of the Colorado Workforce Center.

Thanks to a new Web site listing employment opportunities in the five-county northwest region of Colorado, Nickey said, job hunters who have a computer equipped with an Internet browser and modem can check out jobs here and all over the state. From there, they can link to job postings in all 50 states, without ever putting on business attire.

The latest unemployment statistics for Colorado and Routt County suggest people here don't have to look hard for work. But Nickey said that isn't necessarily the case. She agreed that Colorado's jobless rate of 2.7 percent and Routt County's rate of 2.4 percent are "unbelievable."

"However, we're entering a time of year when employers seem to be pulling back a little," she said. "People in Routt County are fully employed, but as the ski season winds down, that could change."

Where the old-fashioned billboard at the Workforce Center in Sundance Plaza was filled beyond capacity last fall, that isn't the case in the first week of March. The board easily occupies 15 feet of wall space at the Workforce Center, and there is ample room for more listings.

"The winter hasn't been as busy as we might have hoped, and I think many employers are ready to stick it out through the rest of the ski season" with the employees they have, Nickey said. "It's really a weird time right now jobs aren't as plentiful as they were."

She also theorizes that employers in the construction industry are reluctant this time of year they could hire a full complement of workers for their projects, but the weather could easily idle those workers when buildings are just coming out of the ground.

Prospective construction workers trying to make the transition from winter to summer work needn't have a computer at home to search for work online. The Workforce Center, which is just two doors down from the post office in Sundance Plaza, has two computer work stations available for public use.

One of the first things visitors to the Workforce Center will appreciate is that there is no imposing front desk that serves as a barrier to the public. Instead, the office is wide open, and the staff members rise quickly from their desks to greet people who wander in.

The public computers are available for more than Internet job searches. People are welcome to update their resumes and print them out, Nickey said. The staff will even offer advice on how to write the most effective resume along with conducting mock interviews to sharpen skills.

The public also is welcome to use the telephone and fax machines at the center.

Workers from abroad

The growing percentage of Steamboat's work force that comes from abroad is of growing interest to Nickey. In fact, no one knows for certain how many foreigners contribute to the local labor pool, and that's one thing that concerns her. Nickey said she isn't able to say with certainty if more foreign workers are needed during the height of the ski season, or whether they might be taking some jobs that American citizens need.

Nickey has applied for a federal grant to help her gather more data. Shortly after the ski season ends, she'd like to begin by surveying the business community.

"We'd like to know who is using foreign nationals to fill jobs, how they were recruited and how they are housed," Nickey said.

Nickey has found that in the 14 weeks since the northwest region's Web site went up, the trend toward people from out of the state and out of the country seeking jobs here via the Internet is growing.

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