Friday, May 08, 2009

Unemployment Workshop

Yesterday Patrick and I went to the Bloomington Workforce (aka Unemployment) Center to attend a workshop on Looking for Work after 40, 50, 60 years of age.

My memories of Workforce Centers date back several years and are of the one at Lake and Chicago in South Central Minneapolis and the one on University in St. Paul. These are used by working and poor people. They may have changed, but the last time I was in them they were crowded, dark and dreary.

The Bloomington office, in a southern suburb, is spacious, with nice furniture in a good state of repair, lots of computers and lots of windows that look out on parking lots, lawns and trees. The staff is friendly and efficient and do not appear to be overwhelmed. The unemployed are middle class.

As far as I could tell by looking, Pat and I were the oldest people in the workshop, except for the two workshop leaders, who were both 73.

I found the workshop interesting and energising, though some of the advice sounded wrong to me. The economy has changed so much in the past 12 to 18 months that lots of information is out of date. Still and all, I got some new ideas, both from the workshop leaders and the guy sitting next to me, an engineer who's been out of work since January. Patrick said it was not as useless as he expected.

We both applied to the displaced worker program, which offers a lot of additional resources.

It was an actively pleasant office, and I'd like to go back there. However, it's a one and a half hour bus ride from where I live.

The other suburban Workforce Center that sounds interesting is much closer and easier to get to by bus. I'm going to try that one next and the St. Paul office, which is just off University Avenue now. Maybe it has improved, though it only offers four workshops. The suburban office offers 14.


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