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Local libraries offering virtual job training for remote work skills

If you’ve lost your job in the economic crisis, getting back into the job market may be made even more challenging by the fact that the prevalence of remote work over the past six months has revolutionized the skills needed for many jobs now. Luckily, local libraries are offering virtual job training to give people a crash-course in this new mode of working.

Sno-Isle Libraries, which serve Snohomish and Island Counties, have taken their usual free job training services online so that people can still get that help from home.

“We’ve done our best to adapt as many of our services as we can to the virtual environment because we know that our customers miss us and we miss them too,” said Emily Felt, the libraries’ services coordinator for Adult Services. “We’re trying every way that we can to connect with them and offer the support that they would have received in their libraries pre-COVID.”

Additionally, the libraries are expanding their services to aid people who now have to learn what a virtual work setting looks like.

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“Due to COVID and the economic downturn that we’re experiencing, it’s triggering a real need amongst our communities to learn new skills to get credentials, and to prepare to make themselves attractive to potential employers,” Felt said.

Felt said some of those new skills include “the ability to navigate the virtual environment and all the virtual tools that folks are using to collaborate — which includes some Microsoft products, as well as things like Zoom or WebEx,” as well as “preparing for a video interview — that’s a bit different than preparing for an in-person interview.”

For example, she said, if you’re interviewing over video-chat, you will have to consider the impacts of your lighting, background, sound quality, and the strength of your internet connection.

People who need to learn the ins and outs of video-chatting may not yet be tech-savvy enough to get set up with the virtual classes to learn these skills in the first place. Luckily, Felt said librarians are happy to call residents and work with them on their technology skills over the phone.

As of this week, the Sno-Isle Libraries are offering online proctoring so residents can get certified in programs like Microsoft Office, Adobe, and Quickbooks. This is done through a partnership with the Washington State Library. Proctoring is offered twice a month on the first and third Mondays, and may be expanded if there is enough interest.

It’s not just Sno-Isle Libraries broadening their job training efforts. Throughout the fall, the Seattle Public Library is offering online workshops in workplace conflict management, leadership, communication skills, team building, managing change, and holding successful meetings.

To find free job training opportunities that you can access with a library card, contact your local library.

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