Library and jobs officials join Sen. Jack Reed (right) as the Rhode Island Democrat announced a bill to link libraries with employment resources. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News
Liz Burke, WPRO News
In an effort to help more job seekers find employment, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Thad Cochran (R-MS) are co-sponsoring a bill that would establish employment resources in public libraries, linking them with state agencies that help the unemployed.
“Digital literacy is essential in the work force today," said Charles Fogarty, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and training.
"Quite frankly if you don’t have the ability to access the Internet, if you don’t know how to use a computer, you’re almost unemployable today. And in two years, you will be unemployable today,” said Fogarty.
“You can’t apply for a job today unless you can get on a computer,” said Senator Reed.
The Reed-Cochran bill would amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the primary federal law that supports workforce development. The WIA’s “One-Stop” career system is designed to serve the needs of job seekers and employers and in managed by local Workforce Investment Boards.
Reed said that there are more than four times as many libraries as one-stop centers in high unemployment counties nationwide.
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 30 million Americans used a library computer to help address their career and employment needs in 2009.