In an idea presented as a Tennessee Career Center “with wheels,” state officials Wednesday introduced one of three large vehicles that will take the state’s mission of helping Tennesseans land jobs directly to the people.
A “Career Coach,” a large customized vehicle with computer workstations, Internet access, a printer, fax machine and flat-screen television for instruction, was introduced on the east side of the Capitol.
Karla Davis, commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, hosted the event that was attended by Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell.
Haslam and legislative leaders have said the state’s main goal is to create jobs. The Career Coach is seen as a way to better accommodate rural counties. It is also seen as a way to take help to the actual work site of a mass layoff in order to assist displaced workers.
The coaches will be based in Huntingdon, Nashville and Knoxville, covering the state’s three grand divisions. The vehicles will each be staffed with three Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development employees trained in career counseling and unemployment benefits.
“One of the most important missions of the Career Coach is to help Tennesseans find jobs, and we’ll be able to achieve that in a number of ways,” said Davis.
The staff can conduct training workshops, assist on resumes, offer online job searches and improve interviewing skills and computer training, Davis said. The coach can take high-speed Internet to locations where access may not be available or where people cannot afford Internet access, she said.
The coaches represent another way of helping the department’s division of adult education offer assistance in obtaining GEDs.
They also provide the opportunity to partner with entities like libraries, high schools and chambers of commerce, Davis said.
“If you look at where unemployment is around the state, there’s no great secret. In our most urban areas and our most rural areas are where the highest pockets of unemployment sit,” Haslam said.
After the formal program, Haslam said the coaches operate on part of the federal stimulus plan money that came to the state and that the wheels were put in motion for the coaches last year.
“We already have 160 appointments scheduled,” Haslam said.
The coach at the Capitol was certainly distinguished as a Tennessee project, with a modern design that includes an image of the state Capitol on it. It also had one curious aspect of its appearance. The coach had a Montana license plate.