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Job seekers forced to switch careers due to COVID-19 impact on past employers

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 23:51:01-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Unemployment numbers are still at a record high in Ohio and many Ohioans are waiting to get back to work, but may not be able to afford to wait.

Hannah Kelling’s job search started before coronavirus forced some employers to temporarily close.

“I actually quit a job back in February which made me ineligible for unemployment benefits,” said Kelling.

She had another gig lined up in March but never started because of the state’s COVID-19 orders.

“That job it’s a summer camp so it never started up and I don’t think they’re going to start up for the summer at all.”

And she’s not alone.

According to Ohio Job and Family Services, 957,000 workers were unemployed in April.

“They’ve been blindsided, and you know there’s feelings of loss, hurts. Many of them feel like they can go back to the old job and they’re hoping to you but many,” Frank Brickner, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County.

Brickner says about 220 people have reached out for help finding new jobs in the past two months despite in-person training being closed for the past few months. He says the majority of their clients coming from the service and manufacturing industry.

“It will even go up more next year as more individuals feel oh, I need to re-pivot to another career,” he said.

Brickner says they’ve refocused their priorities in order to help those individuals pivot and train for new long-term careers.

“We’ve reached out to hundreds of individuals since COVID-19,” Brickner said. “We’ve got some access to a list from the state of Ohio so we can try to get to individuals and say hey we’re here.”

Kelling’s reality once consisted of being unemployed with no financial help from the state, but it forced her to get creative in order to make ends meet.

And she did just that as a freelance painter.

“For me, it was kinda looking back at the skillsets that I have to pull from and stuff like that,” Kelling said.

Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County is hosting a free virtual job fair starting June 15 through June 19. To register, click here.