Maryland employment officials want to do for job hunting what the fast-food industry did to ease the quest for a quick meal.
Soon it will be possible for unemployed workers to get job listings as fast and as easy as it is to order a Big Mac.
Using modern technology such as facsimile machines and computers with touch screen capabilities, the state is working on
creating a massive job bank that will enable applicants and employers to find each other in a matter of minutes.
"As the number of people entering the labor force increases, we have to come up with a way to give them better services," said Paul Gilden, director of management information systems for the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development's Office of Employment Services.
Coming soon to local shopping malls is ALEX. ALEX, which stands for Automated Labor Exchange, is a touch screen, self-service machine that will permit applicants to tap into a database of job openings in Maryland, surrounding states and nationwide. The information can be printed out and the person can apply for the job at a local employment office.
Overall, the state has spent $468,000 to automate the job searching process.
The state has received $207,000 in federal money to purchase five ALEX terminals and five other similar computers. Gilden said they want to place the machines in high traffic areas and give people the opportunity to look for jobs as easily as they use an automated teller machine.
Decreasing federal dollars necessitates such automation, he said.
The number of state workers who process unemployment claims and assist people in finding jobs declined from 317 in 1986 to 259 in 1991 and is expected to decline to 200 by 1996, according to Dale Ziegler, deputy administrator for the state's division of Employment and Training.
Gilden hopes that in two years job seekers and employers will be able to use personal computers to link up in what will be a fast, self-service system. In the future, on a 24-hour basis, employers will be able to file job orders with the state, view applicant files and obtain printed resumes from remote locations using modems. In turn, people looking for employment will be able to find work via a computer.
The state already has a job line that people can call, but the number of job listings is limited.
Last week, more than 300 officials of state employment agencies across the nation met in Baltimore to share new job-search technology.
During the Interstate Conference of Employment Security Agencies convention, officials from states where the system is already in use, including Virginia, Iowa and New York, explained how the technology will revolutionize the way people look for jobs. Most important is that the services can be offered by government for free.
"This last recession has brought us a different kind of customer -- white collar professionals," said Anthony Davis, deputy commissioner for community services for New York's Department of Labor.
Maryland state figures show that 32 percent of all employees are now professional, technical and managerial, and this segment is expected to represent an even larger share by 1996. Yet, the proportion of these professionals helped at employment offices is extremely low, Gilden said.
White collar workers don't generally use the job-hunting services of employment offices because the job listings available usually for entry-level jobs, he said.
To help these professionals find work, the state has invested $20,000 to set up a new service that will start operating within a month. "Resume Classified" provides employers with easy to read information based on resumes and sent to them via their fax machine.
The service was developed by the
Rockville-based Advantage Systems Corp. and Maryland is the first state to try it out.
Initially, the service is to be tested in the state's Towson, Wheaton and Columbia employment offices. The state has a two-year contract with Advantage Systems.
The information collected from job candidates who must use the employment offices is put into a computer, coded and distributed to employers by Advantage Systems. It is a free service to job applicants but employers pay a fee to Advantage Systems based on their number of employees.
More than 80 employers have signed on to use the service, according to Donald Machis, president of Advantage Systems.
Employers are supplied with one-line listings that include such information as salary requirements, educational background and years of experience in a particular field.
If the employer spots a likely candidate, he or she calls a number, enters a password and selects the resume. In minutes the full resume is faxed.