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Minnesota Workforce Center offers computer skills classes to job seekers

WORTHINGTON -- Thanks to the aid of computers, accessing job information is much easier today than it used to be.

Finding a computer to use when you don't have your own, however, can be tricky.

For several years, the Minnesota Workforce Center, located on the main level of the Nobles County Government Center, has provided computers to aid job seekers in their search for employment. But what the resource center didn't offer was a way for those same job seekers to gain skills in computer use -- a skill often sought by prospective employers.

Kurt Lintelman, who works in direct client service placement at the workforce center, said the agency -- in collaboration with Worthington Community Education -- has introduced a computer lab to be used for small-scale classes to help job seekers learn basic computer skills.

The six computers that make up the lab came at minimal cost to the Workforce Center. The refurbished CPUs were declared excess property when the resource center received new computers, while the monitors were also excess property. As for the space for the new lab, Lintelman said they were paying rent on extra cubicles that, up until now, weren't being utilized.

The computer lab is separate from the Minnesota Workforce Center's resource center, which provides computers to aid those registering in online job banks, reviewing job openings and creating resumés.

According to Minnesota Workforce Center's Mary Mulder, approximately 40 to 50 people visit the resource center in Worthington each day. With the new computer lab, the workforce center has the potential to reach even more people.

"The labs will probably involve some (job searching), but the main purpose is instruction of 'Computers 101' and using e-mail and the internet," Lintelman said.

Instructors who teach basic computer skills through community education will help lead the classes.

"The need for computer skills is increasing daily in today's workforce," Lintelman added. "We're trying to solve an access and skills issue -- to remove the potential barriers of not having access to computers."

The computer lab and classes are open to those eligible for programming at the workforce center during regular business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"Our universal customer is anyone who is unemployed and seeking employment," Lintelman said.

The workforce center offers a job training program to eligible clients based on their income, as well as rehabilitation services -- available to people with disabilities and impairments that impede their ability to work.

During his nearly 28 years working with employment programming, Lintelman said computers have made a vast difference in the ability to search for jobs.

When he began his career, computers were non-existent, and case notes were dictated to people with shorthand capabilities. Back then, everything relating to job openings was processed on paper.

By the mid-1980s, the center received its first computers, although they were strictly for staff use in recordkeeping and documentation. Job seekers still paged through books of listings in their search for work. A decade later, computers had become commonplace in workforce centers.

Though computers have made job searches easier, Lintelman said employment seekers still spend about the same amount of time searching for work.

"The computer allows you access to many more resources in a more efficient manner," he said. "And, more companies prefer applications (be submitted) online."

Two companies that recently expanded into Worthington did all of their initial hiring based on online applications, Lintelman added.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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