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Workforce Development Board Ribbon Cutting

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the Workforce Development Board of Southeast Missouri. WIOA Youth Case Manager/AEL Instructor Denise Schimweg (center) cuts the ribbon celebrating the opening while her colleagues and members of the chamber gather in support. 

The Workforce Development Board of Southeast Missouri recently opened up a location on 12 Court Square.

The board is a non profit agency dedicated to creating a stronger workforce through career and educational services that will empower young adults.

As recent members of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, they held an official ribbon cutting Aug. 23 to commemorate their new location and promote their goals to the community.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Case Manager and Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Instructor Denise Schimweg said the program helps people, age 14 to 24 by providing employment support and education resources. The program also works to help businesses in the hiring process.

"We provide resources and support to help youth find a rewarding career and/or career opportunity through work experiences or apprenticeships," Schimweg said. "We support in the areas of how to search for a job, job referrals, Youth Summer Jobs, career planning, training opportunities and strengthening individualized skills for resume building, interviewing skills and more may be reinforced in job skills workshops, on the job training and hiring events."

Schimweg said education services are tailored by Missouri Certified Teachers to fit each person according to his or her individual needs and wants. Youths are given the tools needed to be trained through post-secondary school and/or to obtain their high school equivalency certificate.

"Individual classes, college preparation, trade school entry assistance and online learning modules may be tailored to support each students needs," Schimweg said. "We also attempt to make hiring employees simpler for businesses."

Schimweg said whether they are approached by a large company or a small business their goal is to facilitate the creation of a strong workforce while saving them time and money.

"We attempt to job match through recruitment, provide business consulting and Workforce Certifications for individuals that meet work experiences, education, training and other job qualifications," Schimweg said. "We help employers post jobs through our MoJobs website, provide business resources and help connect job seekers to employers."

The Youth Program is free of charge and has two different eligibility areas, youths ages 16 to 24 and are currently out of school or youth ages 14 to 21 in school. Schimweg said additionally, they must be facing one of the following barriers, pregnant or parenting, disability, adult or juvenile justice offender, foster child or aged out of system, homeless or runaway, high school dropout, within compulsory school age but did not attend last quarter, basic skills deficient, English language learner or simply needs additional assistance. She went on to say there may be income eligibility guidelines for some in-school youths.

"The youth of today face many barriers," Schimweg said. "Many of them do not know who or how to contact resources that may be available to help them. Many are intimidated and/or fearful to share their situations. Our non-profit agency does not profit from its participants but can be a non-biased, skilled party of support to the youth, families, businesses and employers. The smaller, local offices and staff are additional resources to a community which is a benefit for the individuals."

Workforce Development Board of Southeast Missouri has always had the contract to provide these services but until recently subcontracted out to other agencies.

"The Missouri law just recently changed to allow Workforce Development Boards to directly provide WIOA services themselves," Schimweg said. "That is what our regional board decided to do, so mid-June they began hiring, training and renting office space to have every one of the southeast counties covered in their region."

As of this week Schimweg said all 13 counties in the southeast region have an office with one youth case manager staffed. The region includes Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Perry, Dunklin, Pemiscot, Iron, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott, St. Francios, Ste. Genevieve and Stoddard counties.

Schimweg has worked in Madison County part-time for the last year as the AEL instructor for night classes and enjoyed the position so much that when the opportunity to work in the community full-time came available she volunteered. 

"I'm a retired public school teacher of 30-plus years, university professor and advisor of 18-plus years and have two adult children and am the grandmother of four," Schimweg said. "I truly believe that learning is a life-long process and no one is ever too young, or old, to learn something new.

Schimweg said she is looking forward to being a part of the community and welcomes anyone to come and see her at the office.

To learn more about the programs offered, contact Denise Schimweg at denise@job4you.org, 573-979-8916 or stop by the office at 12 Court Square in Fredericktown.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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