Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Workforce WednesdayDr. Najmah Thomas is one of my favorite people to chat with when it comes to all things workforce. 

As the Administrator of the Workforce Investment Act Program, one of the largest funding streams for Virginia’s workforce programs, Thomas’ expertise lies in employing youth, adults and dislocated workers.

Outside of her work at the Virginia Community College System, Thomas is the founder of a non-profit organization, Prince & Princess, Inc., whose mission is cultivating leadership skills in youth.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Thomas to chat about the state of Virginia’s workforce. As usual, I walked away educated and inspired. Here are some highlights of what she shared with me:

Social Media as a Job Search Aid

Najmah Thomas

Finding employment is all about matching the skills with the credentials that employers need today or tomorrow, according to Thomas.

If you have the skills and credentials, Thomas recommends using social media as a main tool to aid in your job search.

“If you are looking for work or seeking improvement in a career, don’t just use social media for fun. Use it to increase your knowledge and tools for employment,” she said.

Thomas recommends creating a twitter account and following your local chamber of commerce, local newspapers, and even the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, for job postings, career tips and basic labor market information. 

In addition to social media, Thomas also recommends visiting a One-Stop Career Center for a wide range of employment, training, and career education program services.  

Workforce Issues Facing the Commonwealth

Thomas shared that an alarming trend in Virginia, which mirrors the country, is the increase in unemployment among members of the emerging workforce.

“Young people are now competing with adults looking for the same jobs because of the recession. There is a lack of positions available for young people to get their first taste of employment.”   

Entry level jobs are where young adults learn the soft skills that are so important. Thomas recommends a statewide strategy to address this issue.

Advice for Today’s Youth

“Don’t think college is the only route to a career you will both love and be paid well for. There is always the option to focus on a credential and do what you love to do!”'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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