The RI Dept. of Labor and Training has collaborated with the Office of Library and Information Services and the Rhode Island Library Association to provide up to 30 specially formatted computers that connect to the state's online Unemployment Insurance claims-filing system and the state's EmployRI.org virtual career center. These computers, funded with $30,000 in U.S. Department of Labor grant money, are intended to provide free and convenient access to job seekers who lack home-based computers.
Governor Lincoln Chafee states, "Improving access to both unemployment insurance and job matching services is an important undertaking, and is part of my administration's push to modernize government communication through internet-based tools and social media."
Fifteen Rhode Island libraries chose to serve as hosts for the computers. These include:
Central Falls Public Library
Cranston Public Library (2 computers)
East Providence Public Library
Greenville Public Library
Harmony Public Library
Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library, Harrisville
Newport Public Library
Pawtucket Public Library (2 computers)
Providence Public Library
Providence Community Library/Mt. Pleasant
South Kingstown Public Library
Warwick Public Library
Westerly Public Library (2 computers)
West Warwick Public Library
Woonsocket Public Library
At this writing, more than half the computers listed have already been deployed to their host libraries.
Job seekers may use the computers to visit the RI Dept. of Labor and Training web site at www.dlt.ri.gov to file an unemployment insurance claim or to certify for weekly benefit eligibility.
DLT Director Charles J. Fogarty says, "Within the next 12 months, the department intends to transition its unemployment insurance system from its current mix of telephone and online claims-taking to an exclusively online format. Before we make that change, however, we want to make sure that the public has adequate access to our internet applications. That is why deploying these computers in the community is so important."
Job seekers may also use the computers to visit www.employri.org, a virtual career center that spiders multiple online job boards to create a one-stop job search site for Rode Islanders. Through EmployRI, job seekers can search by preferred employers, geography, job type and required skills. It also contains self-service resume and skill assessment applications, and offers a wealth of labor market information on Rhode Island's high-growth industries.
The computers can connect to certain library applications, such as the popular AskRI reference resource center.
Fogarty adds that the Department of Labor and Training is in talks with several community-based organizations about installing specialty computers in their public buildings. He hopes to deploy 30 computers in total.