Monday, June 25, 2018

Teleworks USA Helps Breathitt Countian Chris Johnson Find Work without Leaving Home

Like many others in his community, Breathitt Countian Chris Johnson needed a job.

“I couldn’t find a job at all,” he says as he sits at a computer in the Teleworks USA Beattyville Hub. “I live in a very small community, and there are very few jobs available—and the jobs that are available are part-time, typically four- to six-hour shifts.”

That kind of a schedule wouldn’t work for Johnson, he says, explaining that he needed a full-time career to make ends meet and be able to live his life the way he wanted. However, with not much else available, in his eyes, he decided to make a trip to his local Kentucky Career Center JobSight in Jackson to see if he could get some help from an expert career advisor.

“They named off several jobs available, a number of hard labor jobs, food restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores,” Johnson says, shaking his head and adding that he told his career advisor he had no interest in jobs like that as he already knew those were available but wouldn’t work for him.

Then his advisor mentioned work-from-home opportunities through Teleworks USA, and Johnson was hooked.

“When they explained what Teleworks does, that actually motivated me enough to want to see for myself. That’s when I became involved in the training process through Teleworks,” he says, grinning.

An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies. Teleworks USA’s team of eight expert Teleworks Hub Managers also help prepare people for the jobs by upskilling them in customer service and technical support workshops, helping them craft strong résumés and hone their interviewing skills, and assisting them in applying for available remote-work positions they can work within their homes or the eight Teleworks Hubs.

Since its inception in 2012, Teleworks USA has opened Teleworks Hubs in Hazard, Hyden, Annville, Beattyville, Booneville, Harlan, Louisa, and Pike County. Those Hubs have helped bring jobs to more than 1,500 Eastern Kentuckians, and those positions carry an estimated $30 million in economic impact in new annual wages to teleworkers across the Eastern Kentucky Coalfields.

Johnson said he was introduced to Beattyville Hub Manager Tracie Spencer, who immediately enrolled him in the customer service and technical support workshop shortly after his trip to the JobSight.

“It’s a three-week course, basic customer service skills, basic retail skills,” Johnson explains, adding that he also received three certifications at the completion of the workshop.

Having already accrued experience in customer service when he worked for Sykes Enterprises in 2007, Johnson said he went into the workshop expecting to be underwhelmed but was pleasantly surprised.

“It was a nice, refreshing course—a good refresher for customer service skills, but it was also more than what I expected it to be,” he says.

Johnson finished the workshop in August 2016, and Spencer immediately began assisting him as he applied for positions with national and global teleworking companies.

“We put in many applications. I recall doing three in one day, and altogether I think I applied for six different jobs,” he says with a laugh. “We tried to get every position because when you want a job you want a job—it doesn’t matter what it is.”

Within days, Johnson was hired to work remotely and provide customer service for a major gaming and software company through Sutherland, a global customer service and tech support provider.

“I finished the workshop on a Wednesday, did the interviews with the company Thursday, Friday, and Monday, and Monday I knew I was hired,” Johnson remembers, a smile spreading across his face.

Since being hired, Johnson says the job is as close to his dream job as he could ever think to get in his hometown area. Without having opportunities like this through Teleworks USA, he adds, it’s very clear that his life would be completely different.

“I would still probably be job hunting now. I mean, there are so few available, and, like I said, most of those available are part-time fast food restaurants,” he says. “That would have been my fall-back plan, and even that is really hard to get a position with because it’s such a small community.”

Johnson says Teleworks USA is a necessity to his community, and to all of Eastern Kentucky, and he has no idea what he would have done without it.

“Given the economy here—small community spread across huge areas of land—it’s a necessity because it gives people an additional option to work from home or work from an actual job site. It’s needed,” he says. “Without this, there would be many more than myself who wouldn’t be able to find a job or have the opportunity to have a job.”

EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.

Like many others in his community, Breathitt Countian Chris Johnson needed a job.

“I couldn’t find a job at all,” he says as he sits at a computer in the Teleworks USA Beattyville Hub. “I live in a very small community, and there are very few jobs available—and the jobs that are available are part-time, typically four- to six-hour shifts.”

BEATTYVILLE