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With high unemployment numbers posted nationwide, Hale County Extension office has found an innovative method to help find employment opportunities for the county’s unemployed.

Hale County Extension Coordinator Tyrone Smith received a call from Fidelity Information Systems (FIS), a global communication call center, seeking his assistance to hire people from Black Belt counties that were experiencing a high unemployment rate.

“When FSI approached us to hire people, I found out that our county does not have an employment agency,” says Smith. “With the help of the Extension IT and Communication team, we set up a website where qualified people could apply for jobs listed.”

“Some positions at FIS were entry level for people with a high school diploma or GED, but if candidates had additional credentials, they could be hired for higher technical positions related to their expertise and experience. I was successful in getting the company to consider recent high school graduates who participated in Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).”

Smith met with the county’s Industrial Development Board and the Hale County Technology Center to develop a job recruiting strategy. With the help of Probate Judge Arthur L. Crawford, the Extension office set up a mobile lab to assist qualified applicants.

“The county office was used as a place of contact,” says Smith. “We posted articles in the local newspapers and distributed flyers around town and in churches. The strategy was so successful, we were able to place 50 individuals in jobs allocated for qualified Hale County residents. They were hired as customer service representatives with FIS.”

The Extension office has scheduled a small business job fair in June. Fidelity Information System will send 10 managers to interview and possibly hire qualified individuals on site, according to Smith.