Digital Works teaches new skills for workers

By Frank Lewis

August 14, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Tuesday, Connect Ohio opened its newest Digital Works location in Logan. Digital Works is a technology skills training program aimed at providing a link between 21st century workforce opportunities and community revitalization. The program provides mentoring and training to workers seeking employment and places them in quality teleworking jobs.

The grand opening event for the second Digital Works center in Ohio was held in Logan at 80 East Main Street, with remarks from dignitaries and program partners - Hocking County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and Frontier Communications.

“I’ve been working in economic development for 30 years, assisting communities recruit businesses and creating job opportunities, but I have felt something missing, that there was a void,” Logan Mayor Martin Irvine said. “That there were employable people out there and a piece of the economic development puzzle was missing, connecting people with the job market. I think that Digital Works could be that final piece to the puzzle.”

The program is providing an avenue for vacant buildings to become job incubators and retain workers in the area. The Digital Works pilot location opened in Zanesville on May 13, with nearly half of the first training group securing employment before the grand opening was held June 21. The Zanesville location has secured employment for more than 75 percent of participants currently enrolled in the Digital Works training program. Additional centers are planned to open in southeastern Ohio this summer with long-term plans for rolling out the program statewide.

Lyndsey Kleven, public relations specialist with Connect Ohio was asked if Scioto County residents can participate.

“Anyone is able to enroll,” Kleven said. “It is just important that they are able to attend the training at the Digital Works center. Once they complete the training and go through a trial period of working from the site, they are able to telework from home. We are working on opening additional sites closer to Scioto County. We have one set to open in Gallipolis (no set date as of yet), and will be announcing additional sites.”

Kleven said, using a digital learning model, the Digital Works program trains, places, and mentors high-quality business process candidates and locates co-working centers in rural America settings where job demand is high, few employers exist, and the cost of living is the lowest. At the end of training the workers are guaranteed placement in a position that matches their skills and interest. Digital works is currently taking applicants for the program and they can register at www.digitalworksjobs.com.

“Technology is important to our world, it’s important for our children, it’s important for how we develop jobs,” Jason Wilson, director of Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia, said. “Appalachian Ohio has a quality workforce, but a large component missing is the job opportunities. Digital Works is providing the opportunity to connect the Appalachian region to twenty-first century jobs.”

The funding for the Digital Works pilot program is provided in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BTOP provided original funding for the ECO program, which has successfully trained more than 40,000 Ohio adults at more than 250 locations statewide on the basics of computer use and digital literacy.

“The partnership between Connect Ohio and the Hocking County CIC to create job opportunities in downtown Logan will have a tremendous economic impact on our community,” Bill Rinehart, executive director of Hocking County CIC, said. “With the number of jobs created, more residents of the region will have more spendable dollars that will impact downtown Logan and the entire region. I am very confident that Digital Works will employ a couple hundred employees.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.