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Project Jobs: Denver’s Workforce Center

DENVER — As of June, there were nearly 225,000 people in Colorado who were out of a job. But thousands are getting the chance to get back on their feet through a program that offers access to the tools necessary to land a job in an ever-changing job market.

Welcome to the Colorado Workforce Center.

As of a condition of collecting unemployment, it’s a facility James Roach visits almost daily. That makes him one of nearly 30,000 Coloradans taking advantages of the services at the 50 Workforce Centers.

Roach was laid off four months ago after working in a warehouse for nearly nine years.

“This will hopefully help a lot,” Roach said. “I can get connected to where I need to be connected, and get working somewhere out there.”

The Workforce Center provides daily job openings and online access to job websites, but it also uses a hands-on approach to helping the unemployed find work.

“We’re giving them the tools they need to expand their portfolio,” Workforce Center employee Elizabeth Ojeda said. “I think many people who are unemployed for long periods of time these days were employed for 10, 15, 20 years. Their first job search was way different than the one they’re facing now.”

One of the biggest differences when comparing today’s job market to the one that existed in a past decade is ego. It’s okay to have one, Ojeda said.

“With the market so much more competitive, you have to really sell yourself,” Ojeda said. “You can’t be afraid to get a little cocky.”

Rayna Wandel is buying what Ojeda and the Workforce Centers are selling. Wandel worked at the main office of a private school for nearly a decade before being let go in July. She’s revamped her resume and cover letter and has been introduced to a slew of new job websites that she’s hoping will result in employment.

But regardless of how the search turns out, Wandel said the Workplace Center has given her a gift.

“I didn’t have the skills to search for a job before,” Wandel said. “Now I`m learning a whole new life; a whole new way to look for work.”