As unemployment rises, Triad group working to get professionals back to work

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After two decades leading Professionals in Transition, Damian Birkel said he’s in uncharted territory.

“We have never seen unemployment like this. The scope of it is just incredible,” he said.

The organization gives people out of work tools and a support group through their job search.

“The biggest concern that I have is that there is a fundamental change in the job market,” Birkel explained.

The NC Department of Employment Security said Thursday that $636 million has been paid to more than 280,000 people for unemployment claims.

One member of the organization said he was out of work before the pandemic. Now his job search is even harder.

“It’s been very difficult. It’s like I try to network with people, and they really can’t help me,” he said. “And it’s kind of frustrating when you’re talking to somebody and they…might be out of a job next week or next month.”

Birkel worries that furloughs may become permanent layoffs.

“If this additional layer of people who don’t get all back happens, it’s going to make a bad situation worse,” he said.

He’s urging furloughed employees to sharpen their skills and take advantage of free seminars and online networking.

“So that if in fact you don’t get called back to work, and I pray that that doesn’t happen, you will have that many more skills in your tool box that makes you that much more marketable,” he said.

You can find more details about weekly Zoom meetings with Professionals in Transition on the organization’s website.

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