When Lisa Patt-McDaniel became Chief Executive Officer of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio almost two years ago, she inherited a huge recreational vehicle equipped with a dozen computers, a TV screen mounted on the side, and the ability to hold classes inside the RV.
Rather than see an expensive over-sized, gas-guzzling camper, Patt-McDaniel saw an opportunity on wheels.
Every Wednesday, the JobsMobile on the Move hits the road and parks in an Ohio library parking lot. With the mission of connecting with job seekers to educate them on how OhioMeansJobs can assist in their career journey, the JobsMobile on the Move RV is taking it to the streets. For most of the summer, the JobsMobile initiative proactively helps job seekers learn more about OhioMeansJobs services and how they can help them on their career pathway.
“It’s one of the first things we embarked on when I came here,” said Patt-McDaniel. “They have been all open-arms. We are best friends with the libraries in the Columbus Metropolitan Library System – the no. 1 library system in the country. Our whole need is to get to people – especially people we might term the working poor, people who are working, working, working but not making enough to meet basic needs. This has slowly become more and more successful when people realize we were there.”
Most Wednesdays throughout the summer the JobsMobile RV will hit the road for one library in the morning, and another library in the afternoon. While the libraries and workforce boards promote their visits in advance, it’s hard to miss the giant RV sporting a giant logo of “Owen” the Ohio state bird on its side panel.
“We’ve had people drive by the library and see the bus there so they turn around and come back,” said Patt-McDaniel. “People are showing up at the library and coming to the JobsMobile and having conversations with staff. We’re trying to do this to boost the number of people we’re serving. It’s been wildly successful this summer so we’re trying to extend it and it has been a really interesting but successful initiative for us.”
The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio is a member of Midwest Urban Strategies with a mission of partnering with area businesses and organizations on workforce needs so that people are fully employed at their ability and potential in the thriving Central Ohio economy. Few would have thought an RV parked in a library parking lot would be one significant way to accomplish the mission.
“The fact is we have the same clients and clients are coming to the library for assistance and help from staff on a variety of life issues – employment being one of them – so you have a mutual purpose,” Patt-McDaniel said. “By partnering together we’re able to leverage what both of us are trying to do. Libraries are more than books — hey help a lot of people.”