One way that could occur is through diminished career information services. AJB historically has been tapped to provide easy access to local job listings by electronic "career information delivery systems," which are software applications that let displaced workers, students and others learn about different professions and industries.
Tami Palmer, deputy director of WOIS/The Career Information System in Washington state, says the closing of AJB will end a useful service for her and her clients. A nonprofit organization, WOIS provides an electronic career information service to high schools, colleges, businesses and other organizations and has arranged to allow end users studying a career to click over to search for local jobs in that field by linking to AJB. Palmer says AJB has more accurate, up-to-date information on jobs than the Washington state job bank.
Her organization is looking to replace AJB’s service with a public- or private-sector alternative, but considers AJB’s closing an unfortunate disruption to a helpful job-finding resource.
“There has been so much time and effort put into creating this tool and people getting used to using it,” Palmer says. “It’s sad and it’s a waste."
The departure of the job bank could hurt lower-wage workers in particular, partly because many jobs listed on America’s Job Bank are lower-skilled positions.
And blind job seekers will lose a job-finding avenue with the shutdown of AJB, at least initially.
Blind individuals in 18 states have been able to use America’s Job Bank to learn about jobs and apply for them through JobLine, a phone-based service created by the National Federation of the Blind.
Although most blind people get assistance with job searches from staff members at state vocational rehabilitation agencies, JobLine has given blind people the ability to tackle this task independently, says James Gashel, executive director for strategic initiatives at the nonprofit National Federation of the Blind. Between 1,500 and 2,500 people use JobLine each month, Gashel says.
But the JobLine service will cease July 1, and it’s unclear when a replacement might begin. Gashel says the Labor Department has paid to update JobLine software to work with both JobCentral and NaviSite’s America’s Job Exchange. And he is hopeful about persuading states to use the JobLine technology to provide a new "rapid re-employment service" that would help unemployed individuals apply for jobs quickly and generate revenue for the federation to continue JobLine. But without that state revenue, the federation doesn’t have the $500,000 Gashel estimates it will cost annually to operate JobLine.
"We’re undergoing the pangs of privatization," he says.
Asked to respond to concern that AJB’s closing harms blind job seekers, the Labor Department said that "services for individuals who have disabilities, including blindness, are available through one-stop career centers nationwide with accommodations where needed."