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Unemployment rate decline indicates professional development efforts are working

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor shows the unemployment rate in Cleveland, Ohio saw a significant decline in March.

Statistics show Greater Cleveland recorded the second largest unemployment rate when compared to 51 other metropolitan areas with one-million people or more. The data showed the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in March 2023. It was 5.6 percent a year earlier and 21.4 percent in April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is great news for Cuyahoga County and its residents,” Audrey Taylor, Step Forward’s Director of Professional Development, said. “I attribute the improvement to Cleveland’s diverse economy. We have such a mix of quality industries here, such as healthcare, manufacturing and technology.”

Taylor and her team have been working diligently to help Cuyahoga County residents succeed in the workplace. Step Forward’s Professional Development program offers adult literacy skills training, digital readiness training, career readiness workshops and employment services.

“Our training classes help people discover their career goals. We offer professional assessments to match their interests and skills and then we establish an individualized plan to achieve their professional goals,” Taylor explained.

Step Forward offers a variety of professional development certification classes such as Global Support Service Training for an International Customer Service Association certification, Microsoft Office Software training for an IC3 Digital Literacy Certification, a "How to think like a CEO" workshop, and "Introduction to Entrepreneurship-Compiling a Business Plan."

The agency also offers an Adult Basic Literacy Skills Workshop. The four-week program promotes and helps to improve a client’s reading, writing and mathematics skills while integrating computer literacy technology.

“We also offer an Economic Mobility Workshop, which allows participants to gain insight into industry-specific market trends so that they can better navigate the job market and make informed career decisions. Another workshop, the Financial Literacy Workshop, shows participants how they can utilize computers to access their credit report, acquire good credit, and maintain it,” Taylor described.

For adults seeking workshop training, Step Forward offers opportunities to enhance employability skills and provides techniques to obtain success through different career pathways. The agency offers a five-day job readiness workshop designed to assist clients who have been unemployed for more than 100 days. Experts help individuals update their job search toolkit and secure employment.

“It can be difficult to gain meaningful employment without the skills that prepare you to compete in today’s job market,” Taylor explained.

Step Forward confirms that 94-percent of the clients that successfully complete professional development training classes successfully earned their Financial Literacy Certification. In 2022, more than 80-percent of the clients that attended the agency’s One Day Job Placement Service secured employment.

“We are pleased to see the unemployment rate declining here at home. It signals a healthier and more prosperous economy,” Taylor said. “Yet, we know there is still work to be done. There are still people in Cleveland who are looking for job opportunities that pay a living wage. That is why Step Forward will continue to offer such a wide variety of professional development programs. We’re here to help and we're just a phone call away.”

Step Forward is the state of Ohio’s designated anti-poverty agency for Cuyahoga County. It serves more than 25,000 people every year.

For more information about Step Forward’s Professional Development services and the programs available, click here.

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