Foreign labor chiefs tour city job center

Forefront: Labor Secretary Alexis Herman touted "one-stop" job shopping to five foreign labor ministers visiting an Eastside center.

February 27, 1999|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman brought an international delegation of five labor ministers to Baltimore yesterday to extol the concept behind the Eastside Career Center, a "one-stop" employment center that could be replicated in other countries, she said.

The career center at 3001 E. Madison St. in East Baltimore provides access to job databases, as well as opportunities to learn interviewing and resume-writing skills. General Educational Development (GED) courses and unemployment insurance services are also available.

"In the U.S., there have been problems for job seekers to receive career assistance," Herman told the visiting labor ministers during a tour of the facility.

The one-stop career center "is a much more efficient system," she said. "Historically, all of these services have been spread out in different places.

"Maryland is at the forefront of one-stop job shopping."

There are six such centers in Baltimore that, combined, served about 4,200 residents in 1998. Statewide, there are about 46 centers that offer access to job assistance. Nationwide, there are 800 career centers.

For fiscal year 2000, President Clinton has requested about $160 million specifically for career centers nationwide, Herman said.

"In [fiscal] year 2000, one-stop career centers will be a top priority for the [Clinton] administration," she said. "This is the first time the U.S. has made a policy commitment."

The foreign labor ministers were: Rose Marie Van Lerberghe of France, Akira Amari of Japan, Serguey Kalashnikov of Russia, Andrew Smith of the United Kingdom and Padraig Flynn of the European Union.

Also attending were Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat, and John P. O'Connor, state secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The tour of the center was part of a two-day meeting of labor ministers from the Group of 8 and European Union. The meeting was held in advance of the G-8 summit scheduled for June in Cologne, Germany. The largest industrial countries plus Russia make up the Group of 8.

The labor ministers were impressed with the center, peppering employees and Herman with questions. "This is quite a comprehensive concept," Flynn said later. "It's the individual treatment of the customers that I am most interested in."

The Eastside Career Center also offers health services, where a nurse can give assistance to job seekers who have substance abuse problems and other medical concerns. The center also has an open area where applicants can use a free copier, fax machine and telephone.

Ruth Nophlin, who lost her job as a receptionist when the London Fog plant closed in 1997, said the center enhanced her computer and business communication skills, and helped her investigate job leads.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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