CareerSource Polk is using a $2.5 million grant from the Polk County Board of County Commissioners to help put people back to work during the pandemic.

The money is part of $126 million the county received as part of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant. The county used some of that money to assist homeowners and businesses affected by the sudden closure of establishments, and the ensuing loss of jobs, as the coronavirus spread.

CareerSource Polk is a non-profit corporation that oversees state and federal funds dedicated to preparing and upgrading a skilled workforce. It is coordinating Operation Recovery 2020 to help those recently laid off or furloughed return to the workforce in jobs paying $20 an hour.

“We are excited to offer economic solutions for our community,” said Arlalia Oldham-Wesley, director of operations for CareerSource. “It is my hope that we can both empower our citizens and equip our employers with the resources needed to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”

To find out if you are eligible, click here.

If you do not have access to a computer, you may complete the online survey at either of CareerSource Polk’s career centers:

  • 500 E. Lake Howard Drive, Winter Haven.
  • 309 N. Ingraham Ave., Lakeland.

“Our main goal is to secure placements quickly as well as incentivize people to re-enter the workforce,” said CareerSource Community Outreach coordinator Candace Franklin. “To help people get these jobs, we offer services such as resume writing and job search assistance. Because Operation Recovery 2020 ends on Nov. 30, we are not offering training for these positions.”

Instead, the agency will try to find similar jobs for people. “If someone is an administrative assistant, we will try to connect them with either that specific job title or jobs that have similar experience requirements,” Franklin said.

CareerSource will use the money to cover the wages of at least 250 people employed through the Operation Recovery 2020 program, she said. It also will cover drug tests and background checks for companies seeking assistance with those costs.

“We are excited to have a wide range of job opportunities,” Franklin said, everything from child care teachers and administrative assistants to certified nursing assistants, machinists and even a grant writer. “This is a growing list, so we encourage job seekers to keep checking to see what has been added.”

The list of openings can be found at www.EmployFlorida.com. use OR2020 for the keyword, and include the city in which you would like to work. If a job you are interested in does not appear, contact CareerSource “because that job may qualify for Operation Recovery 2020,” Franklin said.

Employers who would like to have jobs included in Operation Recovery 2020 also should contact CareerSource at 863-508-1100.

Because Operation Recovery 2020 ends Nov. 30, and things like background checks can take weeks, CareerSource would like to have applicants placed by Oct. 30, Franklin said. ”This will ensure that participants will have one full month of employment under this program. This may change, and that is based on whether we are given an extension by the county. We encourage employers and job seekers to submit paperwork as soon as possible.”

The goal of the program is to help job seekers establish permanent employment.

Individuals who do not qualify for Operation Recovery 2020 may qualify for other programs CareerSource manages, Franklin said. “We encourage anyone to reach out to us if they are looking for work opportunities.”