State-funded training helps employers, job seekers

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

GRISSETTOWN—Timothy DeMatties of Seaside has found his professional niche doing something he never thought he would—building and repairing street-legal golf carts as a mechanic at the Golf Cart Outlet.

The opportunity to train for his new career was the result of a six-month span of unemployment.

Formerly a heating/air conditioning technician, DeMatties was collecting unemployment benefits when he learned from the local Employment Security Commission office about the Job Training Partnership Act. Through the program the state would pay half his salary while he received on-the-job training.

Bobbie Brennan, local ESC consultant, told DeMatties about the opportunity, and he signed on to participate in May. He took the mandatory three-day orientation class through Brunswick Community College at the Shallotte ESC office to learn skills like time and financial management.

Just two months after beginning work, Golf Cart Outlet owner Donald Stocks hired him as a full-time mechanic.

“We put them through a structured training program, and he went from trainee to mechanic in a short time,” Stocks said.

DeMatties said he had customer service skills from his former job, but he learned everything about production of the golf carts while training.

He now considers it his new career.

“It’s a lot steadier work than when I was doing heating and air,” he said recently.

DeMatties has built and repaired numerous standard and street-legal golf carts since he began work. He spends six days each week in the roomy garage behind the office at the corner of U.S. 17 and N.C. 904, and Stocks says the demand for his services is not going to decrease in the future.

“Our company has always been real strong,” he said, noting the price of gas has also increased the demand for street-legal carts, and his is the only company in the area that sells them.

“We’ve got about 30 [street-legal] carts now in production,” he said.

Stocks believes in the JTPA program. He has been participating for six years. The second person he trained stayed with his company for three years before moving on to a similar job with John Deere tractor company.

Brennan said she’s seen a majority of clients go on to successful careers, such as Joshua Wood, who has been with Golf Cart Outlet since March. He is a bookkeeper and plans to continue his education in that field at Brunswick Community College.

A former installer of security systems, Wood also found out about the program through the ESC office.

“I like that it’s different,” Wood said. “It’s the future. I have the opportunity to learn something I didn’t before, and I’m going to continue my education in that.”

In fact, Stocks’ company is helping him pay for school.

According to Stocks, the ESC being involved makes his job easier.

“Many people who come in have never had good job skills,” he said.

Because the ESC screens candidates, makes them complete three-day orientation and requires them to check in with Brennan periodically, JTPA clients are ahead of the game, and most of them are successful.

“They are also accountable to me, and they have set guidelines to follow. We reinforce good job skills and communication skills. We also work with employers if there’s a problem. We step in and get the employees on track.”

Stocks urges unemployed workers to look into the JTPA program at their local unemployment office.

“If you want to work and be part of a company, you can do that,” he said.

For more information about JTPA, call Brennan at 754-6120.