Because of COVID-19, some people are finding themselves out of work for the first time in decades and if they don't have the needed tech skills, even applying for a job is a serious hurdle.
Mike Ortiz, of Bayview, found that out the hard way. He's been in the tool and dye-making trade for 25 years. He lost his job in April. Since then, he's been trying to get back to work. It hasn't been easy.
"I'm old school. I'm 55 you know. We used to go in and get the application, fill out all the lines, the blanks and then you turn it in and they called you or they didn't call you," said Ortiz.
Ortiz has basic computer skills but says that's not getting him very far on his job hunt.
"When I go online, to access the website, you click on the button and the icon says apply here. So, I do that. Then that sends me to another site like Glassdoor or Indeed. But when you get to those sites they want you to log in with a password and come up with a profile name, and I get lost! I'm not looking to become a computer wizard," he said.
"It's a huge disadvantage and that's really unfortunate because you very much have something that you want to contribute and the way many employers have set up the process it can really be an impediment to being successful," said Susan Abler. She's the Director of Outplacement and a Member Relations Advisor at MRA, an employer association in southeast Wisconsin.
Abler says applicants looking to get a job in today's workforce need strong tech skills. If you don't have them, she says Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development or DWD is the first place to start.
"There are different training programs available with regards to building your skillset around Excel, Word, those basic computer skills," Abler said.
If friends or family can't help, Abler recommends reaching out to your local library to see what programs are available. The Milwaukee Public Library, for example, offers free virtual technology classes every Tuesday.
Another option is going back to school, but just for a class or two.
"Check with your technical college or your university if that's applicable to your situation and see what's available through their career development programs," Abler continued.
For companies posting job openings, Abler recommends making the application more user-friendly.
"Employers, keep this in mind. I don't think this is your intent but sometimes your process is really difficult to your customers -- the job applicant," she said.
If you are interested in learning more about the training programs offered by the DWD, check out the below links:
- Resources You Can Use To Get Through The COVID-19 Pandemic
- We're Open: These Restaurants Are Offering Carryout, Delivery
- Resources For Getting Kids Safely Back to School