New program matches job seekers with training, services

The local job market has been dealing with a persistent problem: employers say they can’t find qualified workers with the skills to do the jobs available.

There’s a skills mismatch.

Recognizing the issue, the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton Community Foundation are co-sponsoring a new program to help Hamilton-area job seekers know how to improve their skills to fill open positions.

“I hear that all the time from businesses still that their number one issue continues to be finding qualified workers,” Kenny Craig, president and chief executive officer of the Hamilton chamber, said. “They’re concerned about what’s going to happen in a couple years when their employees retire.”

Skills Central, as the newly-launched program is called, provides Hamilton-area adults one-on-one counseling and referral services to help them get the qualifications they need for in-demand jobs. Unemployed and underemployed job seekers will get more personalized attention than they may be able to get from other local agencies that also provide job hunting services, say program organizers.

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Adults in Hamilton and surrounding areas including Trenton, and Fairfield, Hanover and Ross townships, can use Skills Central to get help to do the following:

• Identify career interests;

• Enroll in appropriate training and certificate-granting programs;

• Apply for any needed support services; and

• Connect with appropriate employers.

“Our job is to hold people’s hands,” Joel Fink, a Hamilton volunteer and the program coordinator for Skills Central, said.

“Some of the folks that may be in this program have been working for 20 or 30 years, have been downsized, have never had to navigate the world of higher education, are scared of how to do that,” Fink said.

Skills Central is not for everybody, he said.

“It’s people who recognize they have to upgrade their skills if they’re going to make it in this economy,” Fink said.

Also, it’s not meant to be a duplicate program. Rather, it’s meant to complement other local services. Skills Central is meant to provide additional, more-intensive services that other job-help agencies such as OhioMeansJobs-Butler County, Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families, or Butler County Job & Family Services may not be able to offer.

“What I see as beneficial is one of the things I’m hearing you’ll notice is skills gap. What I look at is a service gap,” Adam Jones, assistant director of county job and family services, said. “If there’s something that we don’t offer, Joel is now able to step in and say I can do this and then we can make those referrals to Joel.”

For example, “we have folks that are ineligible for the (Workforce Investment Act.) They just don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the funding source,” which pays for training. The job center’s staff can now refer those people that might otherwise slip through the cracks to Skills Central, Jones said.

“I view it as a real benefit, a service enhancement if you will to the community,” Jones said.

If this sounds like a program that could help you find work, or find a better job, then contact coordinator Joel Fink at 513-863-0800, extension 33. You can also email him at

An advisory committee of local government and business representatives has been assembled to oversee the program and its services. The group meets monthly.

“We’re involved with this because (of) two of the major strategic initiatives of the community foundation; one involves education and one involves economic development. We see Skills Central has a really good combination of those two initiatives to be able to provide services, provide training and provide opportunities for folks who need additional training or additional assistance in getting better or new gainful employment,” John Guidugli, president and chief executive officer of the Hamilton Community Foundation, said.

“As challenges, as opportunities present, we stand ready to provide financial support to be able to meet those needs,” Guidugli said.

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