Kansas kicks 7,000 off unemployment benefits for failing to meet new work search requirement

Unemployment modernization council prepares for interim report

by Noah Taborda, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — About 7,000 Kansans lost unemployment benefits this week because they did not meet a deadline to sign up for a new state program designed to help people find a job.

Legislators inserted the work search requirement into House Bill 2196 earlier this year. Mike Beene, director of workforce development at the Department of Commerce, told legislators Thursday many people who receive unemployment benefits were still adjusting to the policy.

The Kansas Department of Labor issued referrals to the online My Reemployment Plan program for weeks in advance of the deadline.

“The activity of a work search requirement is almost a cultural shift for people right now because they have gone so long during the pandemic without that requirement,” Beene told the Kansas Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council.

The council met in anticipation of a preliminary report to the Legislative Coordinating Council updating leading lawmakers on progress made modernizing the state’s 40-year-old unemployment system. Updates on why some claims were being denied and modernization vendor search were provided, in addition to a look at My Reemployment.

Gov. Laura Kelly expressed concern with the requirements keeping so many from receiving their benefits.

“We tried as much as we could to get information out to people, and we’ll continue to work with those 7,000 people to rectify their situation so that they can continue receiving the benefits,” Gov. Kelly said.

Using the week of July 10 as a baseline, KDOL deputy secretary Peter Brady said 87.7% of all pandemic unemployment program claims were paid. The remaining 12.3% either encountered a mainframe error, an eligibility issue with their claim, a requirement of additional information, or most prominently, triggered a fraud flag.

Brady was hopeful this snapshot would help the council better understand how claims were being processed in Kansas and how the system modernization project could improve these numbers for the upcoming council report.

“Different presenters we’ve had before this council have all made a lot of similar points of what the core requirements and functions of a modern UI system are. This is what it needs to do,” Brady said, urging the council to consider these presentations in the report when choosing a vendor for the modernization project. “These are all the criteria that will need to be looked at for a modernized system vendor.”

HB2196, which took effect May 13, created the council, initiated the needed modernization effort, and required a report recommending a vendor to be issued within 60 days.

With vendor selection taking longer than initially anticipated, Brady and others urged a more forward-looking report when the council takes that up on Friday. Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, said while the initial 60-day window appeared ample enough time, once in the process he saw that wasn’t as feasible as previously thought.

“We don’t want to hold it up, but we also don’t want to rush it just for a report,” Hoffman said. “If the LCC understands that this report is preliminary I think that covers the statutory requirement of sending a report.”

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See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2021/07/22/kansas-kicks-7k-off-unemployment-benefits-for-failing-to-meet-new-work-search-requirement/.

Job opportunities offered for youth

Several local nonprofit organizations are helping youth get a job this summer in Wyandotte County.

In the past few years, one summer employment program has changed into a more diverse youth development and mentoring initiative.

Supported by funding from the Board of Public Utilities, the youth program helps youth acquire skills necessary for college or their first job.

The emphasis is on helping at-risk and lower income youth in the community, coordinating with Unified Government Neighborhood Business Revitalization groups.

In 2021, BPU is helping nine area nonprofits assist hundreds of youth in the community, a spokesman stated. The organizations include:

• The Argentine Betterment Corporation
• The Armourdale Renewal Association
• The Central Avenue Betterment Association
• Downtown Shareholders of KCK, Inc.
• Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group, Inc.
• The Leavenworth Road Association
• The Rosedale Development Association
• Turner Community Connection, Inc.
• The Northeast Optimist Club

These organizations have created a number of unique training and educational initiatives to help young persons, including a learn-to-earn program, leadership development-mentoring programs, business mentorship, art camp and a young ambassador’s program and programs focusing on learning life skills, according to the spokesman.

Many of these programs are geared toward helping young people learn more about business etiquette, time management, crisis resolution, financial responsibility, while becoming stewards of their community as they grow and mature, the spokesman stated.

GM seeks trainees for electric vehicle work at Fairfax plant

New jobs are on the horizon for electric vehicle assembly at the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

Four job categories, all related to electrical wiring skills, are part of the company’s plans to globally market 30 new all-electric vehicles by 2025. Specific job information is available on the company’s careers site: GM Careers.

Successful applicants will enter GM’s Automotive Manufacturing Electrical College (AMEC) which trains future employees to work on electrical systems in new GM vehicles. Participants are paid a full salary and benefits during the training period which can last from 6 to 12 months. The AMEC program includes classroom education and hands-on training at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Experience in a manufacturing environment is a plus, but no prior electrical experience is necessary.

The Fairfax facility currently employs over 2,100 members of UAW Local 31 to build the Chevrolet Malibu and the Cadillac XT4.

UAW National President Rory Gamble recently urged “everyone to take a little step back” saying the union plans to “take a more cautious approach.” He said the union is evaluating whether there will be enough charging infrastructure and other federal policies to prompt widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles. “We know this technology is coming, we know we have to embrace it and make the best of it.” The union’s policy position on electric vehicles is available at this link: 2021-UAW-EV-Update.

According to USAFacts.org, just over 1.4 million plug-in electric cars have sold in the United States as of 2019 — with about 60% of those sales in all-electric cars and 40% in plug-in hybrids. Plug-in electric cars accounted for just under 1% of all 146 million new light-duty vehicle sales between 2011 and 2019.