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Computer works so people can

For many unemployed people in Citrus County, a new job is only a few key strokes away. A computerized job information system, designed to help the unemployed or those searching for a more lucrative job, now is on-line at the Job Service of Florida office in Lecanto.

"This computer speeds up the process of finding a job by matching a person with a particular job," said Donna Kijawski, supervisor at Job Service.

The computers have been available at the office since the last week in February and are becoming increasingly popular, she said.

"We have our regulars who are here in the morning waiting for us to open the doors so they can use the computer, that is how popular the system is now," she said.

Each applicant is allowed 15 minutes per daily visit on the computer.

There is no charge to use the computer or to obtain a job through Job Service. The agency is financed through the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), she said.

When the applicant selects a category on the computer, a job summary appears. This includes experience and educational requirements, location of job and pay.

"With this system the person can find out immediately whether this particular job has already been filled or if they are qualified, which cuts down on a lot of time spent finding a job," Kijawski said.

William Merritt, 32, of Hernando was successful in finding a welding job through the computer system.

However, he recently was laid off, so he is back using the system again.

"This computer cuts down on a lot of time, and the wages aren't bad. I see jobs in here paying anywhere from $5 to $12 an hour," he said.

"I hope to find another job pretty soon using this computer," Merritt said.

Dennis Blauer, 24, of Inverness visited Job Service for the first time last week.

He is looking for a summer job as a waiter, while attending vocational school.

"This is my first time here, and I think this computer system is well-organized. I know I will probably find a job through here. It's just a shame that more people don't try to find one through this computer," he said.

Kijawski said when the computer system was installed, she feared that applicants without computer knowledge would shy away from using it.

However, she said the outcome has been the opposite.

"We were afraid we would lose our entry-level individuals because they would be afraid to work on a computer. But they have found that the system is so basic, they continue to come in on a regular basis to use the computer," she said.

Although the job system lists hundreds of jobs with various pay scales and qualifications, Kijawski said a large percentage of the jobs available in Citrus County pay minimum wage or a little higher.

"We have all kinds of wages in the computer, but due to the nature of Citrus County being service-related, a lot of our local wages range from $4.25 to $5 an hour," she said.

However, Kijawski said it is not uncommon for a nurse, engineer or other highly skilled person to find a job through the office.

"We have unlimited opportunities with the computer, we can find jobs for people in the county, Florida or even another state," she said.

"As soon as we find out about a job position, within seconds it is plugged into the computer system. It used to take about 24 hours to make this information available to our clients," she said.

She said her staff finds job openings by scanning the newspapers, consistently calling employers, state agencies and chambers of commerce, aside from other contacts.

Kijawski said the agency, on the average, assists about 80 applicants a day. From July to April the agency found 654 people jobs.

"It can take 24 hours, two weeks or longer to get a job, but as long as a person is willing to continue looking, we will continue to help them until a job comes their way," Kijawski said.

The computer system is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

An open house to demonstrate the system will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 20.

The office is at 3774 W Gulf to Lake Highway, Lecanto. For information, call 746-9884.