JVS Human Services is launching a new office for the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency to help people find jobs in a casual setting.

Being unemployed can be demoralizing, a fact that JVS Human Services is keeping top of mind while planning its new office for the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency, which will open later this summer or early fall.

JVS topped six competing bidders for a workforce development system in Northern Oakland County to replace the office run for nearly 40 years by the Waterford School District. The center, which will be located in a yet-to-be-determined Waterford location, will be one of Michigan Works!’ seven offices in the county.

“JVS has a very human-centered approach, and they understand the barriers that folks face in life,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, Oakland County’s manager of workforce development and director of its Michigan Works! Agency. “Their wraparound approach is innovative and that stood out in their proposal.”

Paul Blatt, JVS executive vice president and COO, said the plan is to go beyond the standard approach and engage people differently. “We know that the toughest part about the job search is the rejection and loneliness,” he said. “It’s important to help people stay engaged in their job search, to give them dignity and hope.”

So rather than meet across a desk in a sterile bureaucratic setting, clients at the JVS Michigan Works! may sip coffee in a café-type setting.

Blatt is also exploring the use of technology to connect with clients. “Ninety percent of adults have smartphones and the ability to telecommute or use video conferencing,” he said. “Not everything has to be face-to-face or in person.”

Michigan Works! is funded entirely through state and federal grants, so JVS’ experience with compliance and reporting is another plus, Llewellyn said.

Each Michigan Works! office offers services customized to the area.

“People say, ‘Gosh, you guys are all different,’ and that is the beauty of the system,” Llewellyn said “The Troy office sometimes gets an older clientele, so they offer workshops for those who are 55-plus. In Pontiac, some have limited English or need a GED, so we boost adult literacy. We embrace being different.”

And, she said, they help anyone seeking a job, not just those who have been laid off. “We work with everyone from youths to high-end executives.”

Blatt has sat on the board of Oakland County Michigan Works! for five years, but this is the first time JVS has won a bid with the agency.

“We always got great scores but never landed the funding,” Blatt said. “We’re happy to have finally been successful, to be part of a larger system that makes a bigger impact on the larger community.”

Learn more about Michigan Works! atoakgov.com/advantageoakland/workforce and JVS at jvshumanservices.org. 

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