New Era, DHEC help workers get training

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010

With layoffs and the plant closure imminent, New Era Caps employees will be able to improve their chances of finding another job, thanks to a detail in the negotiated severance package.

In that deal, made in February, each worker will have up to $1,000 to use towards extending their education or taking job training courses. The Demopolis Higher Education Center is ready to welcome those employees.

“I have to say thanks to the city and the county,” said New Era Demopolis plant manager Alvin Williams. “The mayor has put together a group of people — and they include community leaders, which is made up of the industrial board — and he also brought in educational parties. The University of West Alabama is providing people who can come in and help our folks.”

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“What we’re trying to do is pool our resources to see how we can best help them,” said Angelia Mance, the director of the Demopolis Higher Education Center. “That includes learning about the free tax preparation so they can take advantage of that.”

“We will begin on the 30th of March,” Williams said. “We will have a two-day training session in which we’ll do Rapid Response, which is sponsored by the State of Alabama. That will be the first step in coming in and explaining to all employees about their unemployment benefits, COBRA — those kinds of things — but it goes a lot deeper than that. Next week, we will have a group brought in from New Era, and their purpose will be to teach people about interview skills, how to go out and apply for jobs, how to present themselves, those kinds of things, in a positive manner.

“It’s a lot of folks coming together at one time to say, ‘Here is what we can do. Who wants to take advantage of what?’”

Williams said a survey was done with New Era employees two weeks ago, asking what kind of educational opportunities they would like to take and what career areas they were interested in to help tailor their job training.

“That’s the nice thing about UWA bringing their resources to our campus,” Mance said. “We have a small business development center, so if there are folks who say, ‘I’m going to take this opportunity — now that I’m losing my job here — to start a new business.’ We can bring in the small business development center and help them secure funding, write a business plan, that sort of thing. With our other resources, we can help them with resume preparation, brushing up on computer skills and so on. We will fill in whatever gaps there are after the state Rapid Response team leaves on the first of April.”