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Article updated: 10/15/2013 10:48 AM

COD's Career and Training Center Moving Unemployed Toward Education, Jobs

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By COD News Bureau

College of DuPage's new partnership with the Illinois Department of Employment Security Office in Lombard has exceeded all expectations during its first six months.

Since opening in February, the Career and Training Center provides information on training and educational courses offered through COD as well as a variety of other services. Located inside the IDES office at 837 S. Westmore Ave. in Lombard, the Career and Training Center has helped 557 people, with nearly 200 new College of DuPage admissions applications completed and 206 people attending the free information sessions.

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On Oct. 1, the first day of the government shutdown, 14 people affected by the closures came to the center to discuss options, with three filling out applications to COD. More people have turned to the center for help as the shutdown has continued.

"The Center's success has been absolutely phenomenal," said Deb Jeffay, College of DuPage Admissions Representative. "People are grateful to find us here, and we can give them hope right away. We're working hard to be a one-stop center, where people can talk about careers, admissions, financial aid, scholarships and grants."

The center is open from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is staffed by Jeffay; Adela Meitz, Workforce Development Specialist with workNet DuPage Career Center; Justin Hardee and Angela Nackovic, COD Adult Admissions Representatives; and Jennifer Prusko, COD Financial Aid Specialist. They discuss information about the offerings at the College's regional centers, located in Addison, Carol Stream, Naperville and Westmont; access to job postings through Illinois Job Link; and service coordination with a workNet DuPage Career Center counselor.

Additional information sessions on educational opportunities for adult learners, financial aid, health programs, job searches and interviewing techniques are offered free of charge. Workshops and advising sessions are listed on the IDES calendar, which is how Stewart Swartz of Naperville discovered the Commercial Driver's License program offered through College of DuPage's Continuing Education division. Swartz, who has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University, had recently lost his job at a coffee shop and was working part-time at a transportation center, where he became interested in driving.

"I received periodic emails from the Illinois Department of Employment Security and saw an opportunity to enroll in the College's truck driving school," he said. "I attended an orientation session at IDES, where they answered all of my questions."

Swartz entered the program in August and ended up receiving six pre-hire letters. He accepted a job with Roehl Transport before becoming the program's 100th graduate. The CDL program attracted more than 125 people to information sessions held at IDES, and more than 20 people have submitted applications. Jeffay said it's one of the center's many success stories.

"When we first approached IDES, we simply asked for a table," she said. "Instead, they allowed us to use prime space that's located just inside the front door. By helping the unemployed and underemployed with their career goals and offering solutions, we're redefining what happens in this space, taking it from an unemployment center to an employment center."

Julie Marlatt, Coordinator of Admissions and Outreach at College of DuPage, said more and more people will be coming to IDES and the Career and Training Center for help if the shutdown continues.

"Some of the government employees don't know if they're going to have a job once the shutdown ends," she said. "It's gratifying to have this partnership in place so we can provide immediate assistance as they assess their options and develop a plan."

For more information about the Career and Training Center at the Illinois Department of Employment Security Office, call Maria Di Muzio, IDES Office Manager, at (630) 495-8568 or email maria.dimuzio@illinois.gov.

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