Purple truck aims to keep workers working

The U.S. Department of Labor's answer to critical layoffs and company closures is to bring employment resources where they are needed most.

An 18-wheel mobile job-search and computer-training facility rolled into Carson City on Tuesday, demonstrating the potential of high-tech job placement services during hard economic times.

The truck, sponsored by a $1 million grant to the Minnesota Department of Economic Security, is a few weeks into a tour of the United States. It was open for tour Tuesday to curious passers-by at the Frontier Plaza on North Carson Street.

Inside, eight computer stations link job seekers to employment databases containing hundreds of jobs. The truck uses a satellite link, and promises to shorten the distance between joblessness and job security.

"It is a tremendous mobile resource," said Myla C. Florence, director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The truck was parked near the department's North Carson City office. "This is what we look at for Nevada's rural areas - places where we don't have service."

Although Florence said the 18-wheel version would be expensive, having the ability to get high-tech services to rural communities is a perfect fit for Nevada. When layoffs are announced, the department dispatches workers to affected communities to put displaced workers on the right path.

A mobile computer lab would enhance the department's training abilities, she said. A similar system is being used in California.

"Our goal is to be the first stop for people looking for a job, or employers looking for a worker," Florence said.

Keith Reed, an employee with Minnesota's Department of Economic Security, has been traveling with the truck from Baltimore to Cincinnati and through Colorado. The next stop is Sacramento, and the truck will visit Oregon, Alaska and the South in coming weeks.

"What this offers is all of the services of brick- and-mortar-type businesses," Reed said. "(Job seekers) can search different databases for jobs, or they can upload a resume that will be available to employers."


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