ATLANTIC CITY — Galloway Township cousins Hanna Williams and An Buu were dealers at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort for more than 20 years until it closed in October.
Neither has been able to find a job since.
“It was very emotional,” said Williams, 57. “That was my second house. … I’ve never been unemployed. This is the first time ever.”
The pair walked into an Atlantic Cape Community College office Thursday afternoon to try to change that. They sat down with employment officers individually to take the next steps toward getting a job.
The service is part of a program that began last week called WorkAC, which helps connect Atlantic County residents with jobs.
As a joint effort among the college’s Workforce Development Department, the county Workforce Development Board and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, the program allows people looking for work to sit down with coaches and specialists to find placement.
The county board requested the program “to help some of the dislocated workers in our area, primarily workers from the casino layoffs,” said Sherwood Taylor, director of workforce development at Atlantic Cape.
As of December, the unemployment rate in Atlantic County was 7.2 percent, with 8,682 residents documented as unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey’s December unemployment rate was 4.1 percent.
Any resident in need of the development office can turn to the WorkAC program for help, Taylor said.
The eligible worker will be paired with a success coach — an employee of Atlantic Cape — an eligibility officer, and an employment specialist from the chamber.
The specialists had more than 300 job openings as of Thursday afternoon, at places such as hotels, casinos and county offices.
“We’re trying to connect people immediately with work,” Taylor said.
The program also offers help to people who need additional services, such as assistance in finding transportation.
On Thursday, employment specialist Dee Kelly led Buu and Williams through a series of questions.
Kelly asked what kind of job they were looking for, what area they would like to be in, what kind of salary they had in mind and what kind of barriers they faced in their search.
“Whatever’s available,” said Buu, 62. “We keep trying to get back to work.”
The employment specialists follow up with the human resources departments where the person applied, and if they get jobs, they’ll keep tabs on them to make sure they have what they need to continue working.
Job seekers should bring basic identification, a resume and any documentation they might need for a job application to the office.
The service will be available until June 30. No appointments are necessary.
The WorkAC office is located at the college’s Worthington Atlantic City Campus at 1535 Bacharach Blvd., Room W105, in the Caesars Entertainment Hospitality and Gaming Studies Wing. Office hours are Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., with extra hours until 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
Contact 609-343-4624 or Scott Griffin, the project coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.