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Classes offer opportunities for unemployed

There is a light in a dark tunnel of job woes, for the under-employed and unemployed in Clayton County and the Southern Crescent.

On-Site Computer Training, LLC, located at 819 Forest Parkway, Suite B, in Forest Park, is offering a free Office Administration Certification class through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program.

The class is designed for under-employed and unemployed workers, seeking to hone their Microsoft Office skills, with a goal of obtaining a job in administration, according to Lisa Williams, director and founder of On-Site Computer Training.

"I wanted to create this hub in Atlanta to serve under-served people," Williams said in explaining her decision to provide computer training. The class prepares its students for the Microsoft Specialist core exams in Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Outlook, said Williams. The courses take students through the intermediate levels of each program, she said. The classes also cover keyboarding lessons and Windows [programs], added Williams.

There are 100 sessions of classes, which are estimated to be worth $8,500, but are free to people who go trough the WIA program, according to Williams.

Needy individuals, who take the courses, will receive a certificate of completion and a Microsoft Specialist title, if they pass their exams, she said. "Employers will recognize them [certificate/title holders] first," said Williams, of Microsoft Specialists. "It [title] will get them above everybody else."

Veronica Whitehead, of Riverdale, said she has been unemployed since October 2008, and decided to participate in the WIA program, because she was not computer literate. After completion of the class at the three-year-old Forest Park training center, Whitehead said she will no longer fear applying for administration jobs that require computer-savvy individuals.

"I've learned the basics and a lot of shortcuts," said Whitehead.

Jackie Gardner, of College Park, said she has been unemployed since August 2009, and knew basic computer skills before she enrolled in the WIA program, though she never acquired formal training until now.

Gardner said she has done clerical work in the past, but is hopeful she will be ahead of the game, once she obtains her specialist title and certificate.

When asked if she enjoys the sessions, Gardner said, "I do, because I have a lot more to offer, as far as computer skills. I am more confident about what I can do."

Harvey Bender, of Morrow, said he thinks the courses are great. "The less you do, the more you get paid," said Bender, of his reason why he is seeking a job in administration.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor's web site, www.dol.state.ga.us, in Georgia, there are 12 service-delivery regions, and 20 local service delivery areas for WIA. Furthermore, each workforce area has an official One-Stop Center, where human services organizations assist various employers, and needy individuals seeking jobs in a variety of industries.

Williams said the One-Stop Center for Clayton County is the Atlanta Regional Commission. On-Site Computer Training has a contract with the Atlanta Regional Commission to provide classes to the under-employed and unemployed, free of charge. Williams said individuals must meet certain criteria to enroll in the WIA program.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor's web site, eligibility requirements for training services are somewhat different in each area, and are based on workforce needs and conditions, as well as policies created to meet those needs.

"They have to fill out an application through the Atlanta Regional Commission ... and they [applicants] have to go through an orientation [to] get qualified," said Williams.

Williams added that the Career Resource Center, belonging to Clayton County, qualifies individuals, and is located at 3000 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 350, in Morrow.

"Once eligible, they take them to three schools to decide if they want to attend," she said. "We've actually had people [leave] On-Site Training, and are employed with DHR [Georgia Department of Human Resources] and Kraft [Foods, Inc.], doing administrative work," said Tony Washington, student coordinator for On-Site Computer Training.

Aside from the WIA program, the training center provides classes and workshops for people whose computer skills range from beginner, to advanced levels, said Washington.

Washington said the training facility also offers free "Lunch N Learn" workshops for the public. These are free monthly lunch seminars that cover different computer topics.

The next seminar, entitled, "General Microsoft Office Tips," is scheduled for July 28, from 12:15 p.m., to 1 p.m., at the training center.

Three-hour workshops, which offer classes, such as using social media, and protecting personal computers from viruses, cost $49.

"With On-Site Computer Training, we not only offer classes, but develop relationships with companies out there, so that when they have an open position, they will consider our students," said Washington.