ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - John Thomas heard some tough news Tuesday: The unemployed Arlington resident was turned down for a job he'd interviewed for.
The warehouse operations worker hasn't found work in six months.
"It's tight," Thomas said. "It's very tight. The employers are able to scrutinize real well and there are a lot of candidates out there so it's very competitive."
Thomas is taking advantage of a newly expanded program in Arlington's central library to make himself more marketable.
Private donations and federal grant money have allowed the library to offer more computer terminals for job searches and advanced training in key office software.
"Microsoft is very important and allows you to get very high level jobs if you know Excel and PowerPoint," said Gerald Hagler, who was learning the software to help make him more marketable in the workplace.
"We call it our workplace literacy class," said Krista Robisheaux, one of the librarians who teaches technology courses. "But we also have a lot of demand for selling on eBay and marketing businesses on social networking."
The program also offers what they call the Technology Petting Zoo – hands-on training for portable devices. It's a long table lined with electronic tablets and handheld devices with books such as "iPad for Dummies" behind them.
"Interest in devices has really exploded," Robisheaux said. "We have iPads that we teach as well as Android tablets, Nooks, Nook Color, mp3 players. Just about anything you can purchase on the market."
"Computer work is paramount," Thomas said. "Probably the No. 1 thing employers are looking for next to experience. I didn't come up in the computer age. I was a little bit before that. But I'm learning. I'm learning.
They're the resources librarians have learned can be life changers in the sluggish economy.
"I actually was stopped in a shoe store once and a lady said, 'I know you. You were my teacher and I actually got a job because of the classes i took at the library.' It's a wonderful feeling!"
Care to volunteer to teach one of these programs? Find more information here.
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