Looking for a job? A key government department—the Department of Labor—now has a new way to help. On Thursday Labor Secretary Hilda Solis unveiled an online tool called “My Next Move,” which caters mostly to young adults, students and first-time workers by providing snapshots of various career paths and outlooks.
“It’s user friendly and easy to access,” said Solis. “It’s free and an easy read. It’s not just a job bank—it also explores careers.”
Many of the 80 million young Americans—the Millenials—born in the 1980s and 1990s have had a particularly tough time finding or keeping work in this recession. The December 2010 unemployment rate for youths age 16 to 24 was 18.1 percent, a number that’s stayed fairly consistent for the past two years, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Funded through a grant from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, “My Next Move” lists more than 900 career options and allows users to find jobs by occupation, industry or interest. In the “interest” section, users are asked 60 questions; based on their answers, the site points them toward suitable occupations and careers. “By leveraging technology in a user-friendly tool,” Solis said, “’My Next Move’ will help those seeking career guidance learn more about work opportunities in fields that are of interest to them and that are likely to have job openings today and well into the future.”
So why this website now? Noting a lack of resources for those entering the job market for the first time, Solis said the new tool is designed to complement the “My Skills My Future” site, released on Labor Day last year. That site was designed to help those with previous work experience match existing skills to new occupations, similar to what’s offered at monster.com or careerbuilder.com. The Labor Department also recently announced a $500 million grant to community colleges and other accredited two-year institutions to develop “cutting-edge” shared courses and open educational resources, some of which will be available online for free—all part of a commitment toward training and employment opportunities.
The online jobs program comes just one day before the January unemployment numbers are due. They’re expected to remain unchanged, though the labor market has been upbeat, and key policy leaders such as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke have been sounding more optimistic about the economic outlook. Economists expect a net gain of 160,000 jobs, not enough to keep the unemployment rate from receding. Growth of 200,000 to 300,000 jobs a month or more is typical in a strong economy. Solis was optimistic about the unemployment outlook, but said, “We aren’t nearly where we need to be.”