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Union County One-Stop Career Centers Offer Path to Independence


Elizabeth, NJ – When Sherry Diggs started looking for work last year, the 19-year-old had already won an uphill battle. She had just graduated from high school despite the challenges of being in the DYFS system since age 13. Now another challenge was looming: working her way through college in the middle of a crashing economy.

“I had part-time jobs in high school,” Ms. Diggs explained, “But being in DYFS, I need to achieve my independence before I turn 21.”

Ms. Diggs found work with the United Parcel Service, but the schedule interfered with her plans to pursue an associate’s degree in social work. With the cards stacked against her, she needed help.

“I’m in an independent living program with Volunteers of America, and the job developer, Debra Makarowski, was looking for resources. She found out about One-Stop,” said Ms. Diggs. “She helped me apply online, and she notified me when I got an interview.”

The Union County One-Stop Career Centers had partnered with the Whole Foods Market Group, which was planning to open a new store in the Vauxhall section of Union Township. Personnel from One-Stop pre-screened 300 online applicants. They also worked with a team from Whole Foods to schedule interviews.

The new store opened in October with 85 newly minted employees from Union County. Among them was Ms. Diggs, who secured a spot as a customer service representative. She works an evening shift that fits into her class schedule.

“This is exactly the kind of opportunity the One-Stop Career Centers were designed to provide,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “We know that willing workers are out there, and we know that employers are looking for qualified help. Our job is to put the two together.”

Whole Foods is a quality employer with a reputation for community involvement and for advancing the careers of entry-level employees. The addition of 85 new jobs is a significant achievement in Union County, given the deepening recession. Unemployment in New Jersey has hit 6%, just short of the nationwide rate of 6.5% - the highest in 14 years.

Estrada noted that the One-Stop Centers are administered by the Union County Department of Human Services. They offer a free, reliable alternative to employment scams that prey on job seekers.

“If you need help getting on your feet, we want the One-Stop Centers to be the first place you call,” said Estrada.

The Union County One-Stop Career Centers provide job search services, including programs tailored for seniors, youths, veterans, and the disabled. The One-Stops also partner with Union County College, local employers, and non-profit organizations to match Union County residents with specialized training programs leading to employment.

There are two One-Stop Centers serving Union County. For more information, call the Elizabeth office at (908) 558-8000, or the Plainfield office at (908) 757-9090.