A new partnership between Teleworks USA and FlexJobs, the leading online service for professionals seeking remote, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs, could help create an influx of even more solutions to unemployment for hundreds of Eastern Kentucky residents.
Much like rural America as a whole, Eastern Kentucky’s unemployment rate nearly doubles that of nearby metro areas. But a new trend in telework and an increasing number of companies hiring remote workers is already proving successful in the region, and will be the focus of this newly announced public/private collaboration to develop new remote-work opportunities.
“Teleworks USA was formed to help Eastern Kentuckians capitalize on available telework jobs,” said Michael Cornett, EKCEP Director of Agency Expansion and Teleworks USA. “Since 2015, we’ve helped our clients in the region secure more than 1,400 remote-work jobs. By partnering with a company as well known and connected as FlexJobs, that can only boost our reach and allow us to connect that many more people to new telework jobs through the digital economy.”
FlexJobs researches thousands of job listings to provide clients with access to hand-screened flexible job opportunities quickly and easily. Flexible jobs can mean remote, part-time, or freelance positions. Since its formation in 2007, the company has quickly become the nation’s foremost advocate for remote work opportunities.
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc., Teleworks USA connects jobseekers with legitimate telework positions, as well, but also provides free, accelerated workshops at each of the agency’s eight Teleworks Hubs in the Eastern Kentucky region. These workshops prepare prospective teleworkers for jobs in the digital economy using hands-on curricula on technical support for smartphone and computer operating systems, customer service, soft work skills, and digital literacy.
For jobseekers, the partnership between FlexJobs and Teleworks USA means clients will not only have access to Teleworks USA’s jobs list and proven digital economy workshops, but will also benefit from FlexJobs’ database of vetted employment opportunities.
“Remote work has the potential to positively impact the livelihoods and improve the quality of life of people in rural and economically disadvantaged communities by providing employment opportunities that don’t exist locally," said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO & Founder of FlexJobs. "By partnering with Teleworks USA to broaden awareness of and access to remote job opportunities, working together we can help initiate real economic change not only for individuals in Eastern Kentucky but the entire region as well.”
Teleworks USA has existing remote work hiring partnerships with several national telework employers, including Concentrix, Sutherland, and KellyConnect, resulting in hundreds of new jobs for the region’s tele-workforce while also filling a gap in companies’ need for prepared workers. This new partnership with FlexJobs will have a force-multiplying effect for the Teleworks USA, Cornett said, by connecting the agency to new telework employers who have yet to tap into the region’s workforce.
“This partnership will greatly increase our ability to get more people more jobs in remote work with companies we are not already partnering with ourselves,” Cornett said. “It is an absolute win-win for prospective teleworkers in Eastern Kentucky and for employers that have a continuing need for a remote workforce.”
Remote work opportunities in Eastern Kentucky are already proving especially beneficial for the individuals who are finding gainful employment without having to move from their homes.
Chanda Gazzara is a native of Owsley County, Ky., and after falling victim to addiction in her youth needed something stable to help her get back on her feet during recovery. But living in a county with a population of less than 5,000, employment opportunities close to home are hard to come by.
When Gazzara heard of the new Teleworks Hub in nearby Beattyville, she gave it a try and enrolled in the digital literacy workshop. Just a few weeks later she had landed a job with U-Haul as a customer service representative, working remotely and helping customers confirm reservations. She was so good at her job, the company quickly promoted her to become a trainer, where she’s working today.
“Teleworks played a big part in my recovery,” Gazzara said. “It gave me self confidence and self-esteem and put me back in the community.
“This has changed my life,” she continued. “If it hadn’t been for Teleworks and everyone working together and the community doing this for me, I would be right back where I was.”
Those new connections FlexJobs represents can mean new job opportunities like the one that helped Chanda Gazzara turn her life around, Cornett added, and that also means new wages and a real boost to the regional economy. Since 2015, those 1,400 jobs Teleworks USA helped create in the region have poured an estimated $30 million into Eastern Kentucky’s economy in new annual wages.
“We view this collaboration between FlexJobs and Teleworks USA as a possible model going forward that other rural areas can use to boost employment,” said Betty Hays, operations manager for Teleworks USA. “We already know that remote work is a viable option for jobseekers in a rural area, and by combining our efforts we expect to be able to show positive results on a larger scale that can translate to other communities.”
Prospective teleworkers will be able to get a first-hand look at what this partnership will mean on March 27 as FlexJobs will host a webinar for jobseekers both online and at each of the eight Teleworks Hubs throughout Eastern Kentucky. The webinars will include information on how to begin working with FlexJobs to find new employment and other details about the company and its mission.
Staff with Teleworks USA and FlexJobs will also host open house events at each of the Teleworks Hubs April 16-18 where national, remote-work employers can learn more about Teleworks USA’s model to prepare for and connect teleworkers with companies that have a need for a remote workforce.
With Teleworks Hubs in eight counties (Harlan, Jackson, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Perry, and Pike), these events will provide ample opportunity for anyone in Eastern Kentucky interested in teleworking and flexible jobs to get started.
Log on to teleworksusa.com to learn more about the upcoming FlexJobs webinars. Employers interested in attending an open house event can contact Betty Hays at 606-438-9943.
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.
FlexJobs is committed to helping people find a better way to work. As the leading online service for professionals seeking remote, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs, FlexJobs offers opportunities in over 50 career categories, ranging from entry-level to executive and freelance to full-time. FlexJobs also sets itself apart by providing job seekers with a better, safer, and more efficient way to find professional and legitimate flexible jobs. Having helped nearly three million people in their job searches, FlexJobs has appeared in CNN, CNBC, TIME, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and hundreds of other trusted media outlets. To further assist people in bettering their lives through flexible and remote work, FlexJobs' Founder & CEO Sara Sutton Fell has also launched two additional partner sites, Remote.co and 1 Million for Work Flexibility, to help provide education and awareness about the viability and benefits of remote working and work flexibility. Sutton Fell is also the creator of The TRaD* Works Forum (*Telecommuting, Remote, & Distributed), dedicated to helping companies leverage the benefits of telecommuting, remote and distributed teams.