Workforce Development touts new access points for job info


August 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Officials in the state’s Workforce Development agency today (Tuesday) are touting their work to set up an “access point system” to replace the 37 Workforce Development offices that are closing. On Monday Governor Branstad told reporters he’s confident he’ll beat a lawsuit challenging his decision to close those offices. The agency at the center of the controversy issued a news release today touting the convenience of having “Virtual Access Points,” or, “VAPS.” Spokesperson Kerry Koonce says the access points are set up in places like libraries, schools and National Guard Armories, and offer more than you can get by just logging in on your own computer.

Koonce says you can do a lot of things by accessing the website, but you can’t do the assessment testing on the website as it can’t be programmed that way. She says they have a live chat setup with staff available from eight a-m until eight p-m Monday through Friday and 10 a-m to two p-m on Saturday on the access points, while the regular offices close at 4:30. Koonce says the access points have more resources available.

She says there are pieces within the labor market information that she says are difficult to pull up in the web, while it is broken down better in the resource room. And she says you can call the 800 number to get access to a workforce professional. Koonce says the access points don’t take any special equipment.

Koonce says they can put the information onto a computer that is already open to the public at a location, or bring in a Workforce office computer. She says they will use computers from the offices that’re being closed, so there won’t be any cost involved. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says she and the governor recently visited Denison and saw the value of the new system first-hand. “The (Denison) superintendent was there and he just opened up the high school with some evening hours,” Reynolds says.

Koonce says you can still apply for a job, or file for unemployment on the Workforce Development website, but the 135 access points will offer the expanded services. In southwest Iowa, VAPS will be located at libraries in Harlan, Atlantic, Sidney, Tabor, and Red Oak. Other locations include Southwestern Community College in Red Oak, the Taylor County Neighborhood Center, and Taylor County Veteran’s Affairs office, both in Bedford, and at the Montgomery County Veteran’s Affairs Office in Red Oak. Iowa Workforce Development Offices in Atlantic, Glenwood, Red Oak, Shenandoah and Clarinda are set to close tomorrow (Wednesday). The IWD office in Harlan closed last Friday.