Remote work has become the reality for many workers during the pandemic. But officials with the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Fund (EDF) want locals to know that remote work can be permanent.
Through a new partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) the agency is offering 100 free subscriptions to FlexJobs, the world’s largest remote work search site. The goal is to help residents find new remote jobs opportunities so they can stay put in Lafayette County, helping to diversify the economic landscape of the region.
One of seven communities selected to participate in the TVA Remote Work Ready Pilot Program, which was developed by TVA Economic Development in partnership with FlexJobs, EDF is being provided with 50 free subscriptions to the site. An additional grant through BancorpSouth expanded the program to 100 subscriptions. Half of the subscriptions are set aside for low to moderate income residents, to ensure those who need it most have access. Individuals who are interested in signing up can access information on remote job opportunities, in-demand remote job skills, and get resume writing tips at remotejobs.oxfordms.com. EDF officials will manage the distribution of subscriptions.
“We feel that the changing times need new ways to solve problems. TVA and BancorpSouth are helping the EDF to create opportunities for 100 new and better jobs in Lafayette County. These opportunities will span the diverse skill sets, back grounds, ages and interests of the people of Lafayette County. We will retain our talent and bring in economic benefit from around the world.” said Jon Maynard, President and CEO of the EDF.
“A community’s ability to adapt to changing workforce needs is critical in the ever-evolving world of economic development. Understanding that remote work can provide opportunities for a community to build its talent pipeline can really be impactful to economic success, and TVA is proud to continue to provide innovative solutions for job opportunities in the Valley,” said John Bradley, TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development.
Expanding local workers access to remote jobs was on EDF’s radar before the pandemic but the agency wasn’t quite sure how to tackle it, said Maynard. Enter the TVA Pilot Program and BancorpSouth’s grant. “We want people in the valley to be employed. This is another effort to capture that,” he said.
Maynard noted there is great variability among jobs available on the site, from full and part-time work to contract and freelance assignments. Employers range from are among the largest corporations in the world, to small locally-owned businesses.
A previous initiative by the North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, to provide high-speed broadband access to all its customers across the county within the next two years will further help residents take advantage of these new job opportunities, said Maynard, described increased access as “a game changer.”
EDF officials hope this is yet another tool to help stop the “brain drain” of highly skilled workers who leave the region to find jobs. This is particularly common among graduating students from University of Mississippi, and the “trailing spouses” of other workers who relocate to Lafayette County to take jobs at the university or local hospitals. Maynard believes programs like FlexJobs can help them find satisfying work and therefore stay in the community longer. This program can also expand internships opportunities to Ole Miss students, which could turn into full-time jobs after graduation. The agency is also working with local co-working spaces, business incubators and the Career Center at Ole Miss to promote the new program.
Allen Kerr, EDF Vice President, noted that there is already an established community of remote workers in Oxford and encouraged those new to the remote work world to tap into that network for support.
According to a joint release from EDF and TVA announcing the new program, since its start in 2007, FlexJobs has helped more than 4 million people in their job searches and has created the largest vetted database of legitimate flexible job opportunities in over 50 career categories.
FlexJobs memberships offer benefits including: A search feature to explore “vetted” jobs of potential interest in 50+ career fields; More than 170 jobs skills tests that can be taken limitless times to showcase/improve career abilities; Webinars with career experts and hiring managers to help in job searches; Special notification for early registration to members-only access FlexJobs Virtual Job Fairs, hiring events and special employer spotlight webinars; Alert emails that match remote and flexible jobs related to a member’s profile; and a personal dashboard to help stay organized, motivated, and educated.