Kenton County Library's career services can help meet new Kentucky requirements on jobless benefits

Last year, the Kentucky state legislature passed a bill aimed at people who’ve lost a job. Now law, the legislation slashed unemployment benefits, and increased job-search requirements for those collecting benefits.

The law’s requirements have been called onerous by some. It reduced the number of weeks unemployment insurance is available to as few as 12, depending on the state unemployment rate. The previous number of benefit weeks was 26.

he legislation also increases work search requirements from one to five job inquiries per week in order to remain eligible for the benefits.

The Kenton County Public Library is in a position to help the unemployed fulfill the new work search requirements and get back on the job.

The library has built a nationally recognized career and job services program that assists a couple thousand people a year.  Participants can attend any computer software and career classes offered by the library either in-person or online to help meet their weekly obligations. Instructors can issue certificates as proof of attendance or completion.

“We’re in a perfect position to help people fulfill those requirements,” says Natalie Ruppert, manager of the library’s career and job services division.

She has expanded the library’s program to partner with nearly every Northern Kentucky agency that assists in the job hunt, including the Kentucky Career Center, the Northern Kentucky  Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Investment Board, the Brighton Center and more. Every January, the library also holds its “New Year, New You Job Fair” that brings in a few hundred participants. This year, more than 40 businesses participated.

The library’s services relate to all levels of job seekers – entry-level, professional, veterans, those in job transition, second careers. The goal is to help them prepare for and land the best job opportunity for wherever they’re at in life, and it has programs in place to help those at all levels of employment.

“We started catering to people with a lot of barriers to entering the workforce,” Ruppert says. The classes cover resumes, listening skills, using LinkedIn and other job-lead sites. The library has hired two “career navigators” who are available by appointment to help with local job-search resources.

The library has also recruited 13 volunteer job coaches who can help assess resumes, conduct mock interviews, advise on salary negotiations, and more.

It also sponsors a weekly speaker series featuring a business or education professional offering advice. A recent speaker was Fernando Figueroa, president of Gateway Community and Technical College.

“We encourage people to be students of the job-search process,” Ruppert says.

The American Library Association has worked with Ruppert and her team to make Kenton County’s program a model for other libraries.     

Last year, in a study commissioned by the Chief Operating Officers of Public Libraries organization, Kenton County was identified as one of 10 outstanding public library workforce initiatives to research and model.

The library "is deeply integrated into the local workforce development ecosystem and has a primary seat at the regional workforce development table during strategic conversations," the report says. "These relationships allow KCPL to refer patrons regularly to all system partners, and partners, in turn, refer their clients to the library for job search needs."

Read the study: Public libraries role in workforce development and small business: A look across 10 library systems

And in January, Ruppert outlined the library’s career programs at a national conference in New Orleans called LibLearnX.

For more information, on the library’s job services, click here.

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David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.