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Sheboygan Dislocated Worker Assistance Center

Dislocated Workers: Upgrading Computer Skills

Community Challenge/Problem

In early 2009, our county experienced significant plant closings and workforce layoffs. It soon became apparent that those dislocated workers were having difficulty going back to school or looking for jobs because of very low computer skills. As they were working hard in their manufacturing jobs, technology had passed them by. Many did not know how to turn a computer on, much less look for jobs or submit a resume on-line. Those who went to school for retraining were in class with other students much more computer savvy and instructors who simply assumed their students knew how to research, write and submit papers on-line.

Board Solution/Innovation

Lakeshore Technical College, along with Bay Area Workforce Development Board, funded a series of introductory computer workshops designed for the very basic computer learner. Five classes were held, five hours each, broken up into two 2 and 1/2 hour sessions. We started with Absolute Beginners, introduced them to the internet and e-mail, and took them through the basics of MicroSoft Word. Two objectives were kept in mind: to prepare them for job search/resume writing or to prepare them for school. Best of all, classes were small, held in our one-stop career center, and run by a trainer who did not have a background in computers, but knew what it felt like to be unemployed.

Outcomes & Results

From August, 2009 through December 2010, we held 179 classes and have served over 800 students, with phenomenal success. The classes will continue to run through June 2011. Workers are referred by their WIA caseworkers or other area agencies. The classes are free; curriculum is updated as technology demands; and the students walk away with a booklet from each class, along with a free flash drive to store their work. The response has been outstanding and enthusiastic. The Dislocated Workers enjoy the classes and can put their new skills to use immediately in our resource rooms.

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