In an effort to cut costs, the Georgia DOL plans to close seven career centers across the state, including the DOL office at 96 Stuart Road in Fort Oglethorpe.
“We had a group of individuals that looked at all offices – looked at consolidating and budget cutbacks and staffing in the field,” DOL press secretary Tom Krause said. “Some centers were not up to efficient staffing levels. These were the recommendations.”
Other factors the labor department considered when deciding which centers to close included distance between centers, the number of customers served and the length and terms of the lease agreements for each office, department officials said.
Georgia Department of Labor commissioner Mark Butler said by reducing rent and operational expenses, more money could be invested into online services and smaller satellite offices. The department already offers unemployment insurance claims and employer payments online, Krause said. The department announced full registration for employment services will soon be made available online, he said.
“Staffing depends on the size of a population in an area,” Butler said. He said the department is attempting to keep as many employees in the field as it can. DOL has also cut back central office staff and cut back on travel expenses, Butler said.
“We’re trying to spend our money wisely,” he said.
“One of commissioner Butler’s initiatives since he took office (in January 2011) has been to make our online services more prevalent and user-friendly,” Krause said.
Butler said the department is striving to keep up with new technologies and customer demands. Improving online job search capabilities and helping clients become “more connected” will enhance the department’s service delivery across Georgia, he said.
The department announced the pending career center closures last week. The 15 DOL employees who work at the Fort Oglethorpe center will be reassigned to the Dalton office, according to Department of Labor officials. Krause said the Dalton office has been short-staffed.
The department also is closing career centers in Blairsville, Camilla, Elberton, Eastman, Monroe and St. Marys.
Rent for the Fort Oglethorpe career center cost the department $6,000 monthly, according to Krause.
“In calendar year 2011, the Northwest Georgia Career Center had 8,147 people register for employment services,” Krause said. “This does not reflect employers who used the career centers for business services or people who used the career center for anything other than direct services.”
In February, 2,221 Catoosa County residents were unemployed, according to Krause.
“In the same period there were 441,517 unemployed Georgians,” he said.
Last year, 8,147 people registered for employment services at the career center in Fort Oglethorpe, Krause said
In addition to assisting job seekers, the Department of Labor helps employers recruit new employees, department officials said. DOL offers employers access to a national job listing network, applicant screening and space to conduct testing and employment interviews.
For more information on department of labor services, visit dol.state.ga.us.