When businesses began to shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Omaha in a matter of days flipped from facing a severe worker shortage to having tens of thousands suddenly out of jobs.
In response, the Greater Omaha Chamber has pivoted to help the newly unemployed, recently launching a new online, interactive resource guide intended to connect workers to job opportunities, training, education and social assistance that can help them get through the pandemic economic crunch.
“What we’ve put together is a landing site to connect people with the resources to help them find new jobs,” said David Brown, CEO of the chamber. “We are in an unprecedented time of profound change, and one of our great assets is our workforce.”
A number of firms are currently hiring amid the pandemic, Brown said — nearly 100 as of Tuesday.
They range from health care providers, social service agencies, school districts, food-processing facilities, startups like Flywheel and some of Omaha’s most established big corporations, including Kiewit, First National Bank, TD Ameritrade and Werner Enterprises.
“There are a broad brush of employers with good track records who are looking for really good employees,” Brown said.
People can find the no-cost, online “Resource Guide for Job Seekers” through the chamber’s website. People who click on it will find that it walks them step-by-step through the process of finding a new job or career.
It first asks about their personal needs, such as food or income assistance, and points them to agencies that can help.
The tool then offers resources to help them take the next step, from getting more education or training, assistance starting their own businesses or connecting them with employers who are hiring.
Brown noted that for several years, there has been much focus at the chamber in finding, attracting and training the people needed to fill available jobs, since the Omaha metro area — like many cities around the country — has faced worker shortages.
But suddenly in recent weeks, more than 100,000 Nebraskans have lost jobs amid the pandemic, and the national unemployment rate has reached its highest point since the Great Depression.
“We want folks to know there are open jobs out there,” Brown said.