"Do you need a job or want a better job? Are you interested in a manufacturing job?" Those are the first words on the flyer for the Hopkinsville Inner City Residential Enterprise Zone FRESH Start Fostering Responsible Employment Skills in Hopkinsville class that begins Thursday.

Three years ago, ICREZ started looking at high-wage, high-demand jobs in the area and found that there are many local companies that provide those positions but have trouble finding workers.

"One of the goals of the Inner City REZ is affording individuals economic opportunity," said Laura Faulkner, management services coordinator/ICREZ coordinator.

She said ICREZ asked many companies in the county what it would take to hire an individual for one of those high-paying positions. The group used the responses to build the FRESH Start course.

"We wanted to find employment that was permanent," she said. "As opposed to temporary in nature."

The responses led ICREZ, along with Hopkinsville Community College, to build courses that teach everything from how to build a resume to basic manufacturing knowledge.

"A lot of individuals that apply for jobs in Hopkinsville do not have updated resumes," Faulkner said.

FRESH Start actually stands for "fostering responsible employment skills in Hopkinsville," she added.

Orientation is Thursday and the actual course begins Monday. That course will consist of teaching students essential job skills.

An instructor -- who was previously a human resources representative in Hopkinsville -- will take students through what HR representatives are looking for in a resume and an interview.

"(Students) will get that knowledge and be that much further above competitors to get that job," Faulkner said.

The second week, students will transition to hands-on learning. They will see the machines they could potentially work on and learn what they should do in an emergency.

Faulkner said ICREZ and HCC have companies that have hired individuals from the program. Some have even moved up to management.

Lea Martin, workforce development liaison at HCC, contacts employers before each class to find out what positions those employers are in need of.

"That's how we tailor the class," Faulkner said. "And then those individuals come in for a what we call a 'round-robin interview process' the final day."

Students who finish the course get to interview for each of the open positions.

"From there the HR representatives decide who they want to call back," she added.

So far, registration for the program has been great, she said.

Orientation begins at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Kentucky Career Center in Hopkinsville. Individuals interested in the program should call Faulkner at 270-887-4285 or email her at lfaulkner@ comdev-services.com.

Space is limited so ICREZ suggests individuals reserve a spot early.

"It's not just a program for the unemployed," Faulkner said. "It's a program for those who feel they are underemployed."

The event is free forstudents.

Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or jrusselburg@kentuckynewera.com.

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