New law requires unemployed Hoosiers to take skills assessment

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A new law will affect the way unemployed Hoosiers look for work. Some say it will be a big help, but others aren’t so sure.

Among other things, it requires state unemployment recipients to go in to the Work One office and take an assessment test. The goal is to help match unemployed Hoosiers with job openings in their skill areas, but some think it’s just another hoop to jump through in an already difficult time.

“You just can’t give up,” said one job seeker.

“It’s rough, trying to take care of kids and home life,” said Travis Purvis. “I’ve been out of work for four months now, and right now, Indiana is not the place to find jobs.”

But state officials say Indiana is doing better than most states and now, there’s a new law which they say will help out-of-work Hoosiers find a job.

“Everybody who is on unemployment after the fourth week will have to come in to the Work One center to have their job search and their skills assessed to make sure they are really on the right track,” explained Joe Frank, Communications Director for the Department of Workforce Development.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Purvis. “They’re just trying to slow us down from getting what we really need.”

But one state lawmaker who helped write the legislation said that wasn’t the point at all.

“We have all these job openings, we have all these unemployed individuals and what we have is a mismatch in skill sets,” said state Rep. Steve Braun, R-Zionsville.

“No question about it, it does add some additional requirements but in my opinion, those requirements are more than worthwhile.

“Here’s an opportunity to be able to receive free training. There’s nothing more beneficial than that.”

“If they can’t make it into our office for a simple skills assessment and a simple job search overview, they’re going to probably have a hard time making it into work everyday,” said Frank.

“There’s been no strings tied to unemployment benefits in the past,” said Braun. “Eighty percent of the people that collect benefits never go in to the Work One offices to have a skill set assessment, so they never go through that initial step.”

But, now they will.

“I think it’s just more hoops to jump through,” said Purvis.

The new law took effect this week, but state officials said the law would be phased in over the next few weeks. They’ll be sending out notices so people know when to visit and schedule their assessment. There is already a similar federal law, which requires you come in and take a test after 26 weeks, once your federally extended benefits kick in.

The new state law will get you in the door for an assessment after receiving four weeks of benefits from the state. The new law also deals with issues relating to unemployment insurance and accurate reporting of benefit payment information.