Sam Primak, Site Administrator of Lebanon CareerLink, knows about workforce development. Part of PA Department of Labor & Industry, CareerLink coordinates numerous services for both employers and jobseekers, and has a unique perspective on how COVID-19 has changed Lebanon’s employment market.
Using a July report commissioned by the South-Central Workforce Investment Board, together with national trends, in Lebanon “the industries that have really been most impacted aren’t really going to be all that surprising,” Primak said.
Accommodation and Food Services headlines the list of the report, with a three-month average of 1,152 lost jobs throughout the county.
Primak also mentions the unemployment rate changing from 4% on March to the nearly 12% on June. “It’s pretty drastic, and so we definitely have got our work cut out for us,” he said.
However, Primak advises against focusing on the “doom and gloom,” highlighting the county’s projected growth for the next two years.
“Believe it or not, Accommodation and Food Services probably is going to see the most growth in terms of employment,” said Primak. Other industries are also predicted to recover at different rates, with Healthcare and Manufacturing remaining the “top two industries,” which seems consistent with pre-pandemic trends, according to Primak.
Primak has also seen measures like remote work transforming into long-term solutions. However, he notes it depends on the industry, as some businesses had their whole model upended, adding to the challenge of rebuilding their workforce and reinstating trust on employee safety.
Regarding jobseekers, “everyone has stepped up and adapted as best as they can,” said Primak; “there is less resistance to change.” He states, however, that barriers that existed before the pandemic, like access to technology, are still significant.
On CareerLink addressing these challenges, Primak said “we try to be responsive to everyone’s needs.”
“We’ve met that challenge pretty well in Lebanon”, said Primak, thanking both staff and partner agencies.
“CareerLink is made of partnerships,” said Primak. Through them, they can offer plenty of options, even if offices are still technically closed.
“We’re still able to help, and I’m proud of the work everyone at CareerLink has been doing,” he added.
CareerLink continues offering workshops, individualized support, job postings, training programs; and the list goes on. Further information can be accessed at pacareerlink.pa.gov, and Lebanon residents have a dedicated workforce resource line at 215-948-4112.
With all his experience, Primak seems optimistic, although he knows only time will tell. “We are emerging from this situation, slowly but surely. We have a lot to learn in the coming months.”
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