'CareerNet' is set to go to work State system aims to link job seekers with jobs

November 30, 1995|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,SUN STAFF

Maryland will receive $3.5 million in second-year funding for its new statewide system of "one-stop career centers," the U.S. Labor Department announced yesterday.

Nine "CareerNet" centers in metropolitan Baltimore and Washington are within days of opening. And as many as 70 sites are expected to be ready within two years, said Hugh Davies, one of the architects of the state system for Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

As designed, CareerNet will ultimately involve as many as 1,000 multi-media computer workstations where Marylanders can access a wide array of career information. Job seekers, career changers, recent graduates and employers are among those expected to use the new system.

Job leads, career advice, resume guidance and job outlook data, as well as training and education information will all be tied together through CareerNet. Workstations are being set up at community colleges, government job centers and federal training sites.

"I think Maryland is right up there on the leading edge," said Grace Kilbane, director of the Labor Department's office of work-based learning in Washington, which is overseeing the pilot "one-stop" centers, now starting in six states.

Including the new grant, Maryland has received $7 million for the program and expects a third infusion of federal cash next year. After that, Maryland is committed to supporting the career network with state funds, said Mr. Davies, policy adviser to the Governor's Workforce Investment Board.

"The moral of the story is that we need to do everything we can to help people be employable," said Ray Feldmann, a spokesman for Mr. Glendening.

Due mainly to federal budget cuts, Maryland is expected to lose 40,000 to 50,000 jobs within three to four years, Mr. Feldmann predicted.

"Since Maryland stands to lose more than other states, this sort of technology is vital," he said.

Three CareerNet centers are close to opening in Baltimore -- including one at the state's Job Services Office on Eutaw Street downtown. There, Ron Hooley said he expects the new self-help computer workstations to be a godsend for a department with a shrinking staff of job counselors and mounting demands for help.

Corporate downsizing at companies such as Westinghouse Electric, Corp., AAI Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. mean more professionals are now seeking career information from the state, said Mr. Hooley, a job service supervisor for the state. Professionals account for 30 percent of the state's clients -- more than double the number 10 years ago, he estimates.

Workers with professional backgrounds are especially comfortable using the self-help computers, which are powered by Pentium processors and involve CD-ROM drives.

But those from all backgrounds should find the "CareerNet" software user-friendly, Mr. Hooley said.

New software

The new software -- developed by contractors from firms in Maryland and New Jersey -- allows users to select options through "touch the screen" commands. It also incorporates introductory videos to tease users into more complex material.

Job seekers using CareerNet can tap into the state's computerized job bank, known as "ALEX," which is available through lower-tech self-help terminals. They can also alert employers to their availability for a job by registering through the computer network.

Those floundering in pursuit of a new career can tap into the "Visions" career exploration programs within the network.

Such programs let users search out new or related careers and also learn about education and training options, as well as financial support.

In addition, CareerNet provides information on "tomorrow's careers" and other occupational projections.

Those interested in learning more about CareerNet can telephone the Governor's Workforce Investment Board in Baltimore at (410) 333-4454.

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