Randal Adkins had spent 15 years behind the wheel of a truck when in 2015 he lost his job as a driver. As it happens, it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to his career.
By the time Adkins became unemployed, he had been slowly preparing for a new career path, going so far as to enroll in college classes at Somerset Community and Technical College. He was ready to leave driving in the rear view mirror.
“The last few years of driving a truck, with all of the new regulations and everything, I was feeling like I was working below what I was capable of,” Adkins says, sitting in the back office of KCEOC Community Action Partnership in Barbourville.
Prior to his unemployment, Adkins knew he had something to offer his employer beyond work behind the wheel. In addition to his work as a driver, he set a goal for himself to recruit new drivers to the company, something he knew he could do and do well. But despite his success in recruiting and earning additional income through the company’s referral program, he never had an opportunity to make the leap from the road to the office.
So, when he was laid off in 2015, he saw it as an opportunity.
“I had already signed up for college classes,” Adkins says. “I was going to take two subjects per semester until I finished, but when I lost my job, I said as long as I can afford to pay my bills I’ll go ahead and bump up classes to a full semester of school.”
Adkins also paid a visit to the local Office of Employment and Training (OET), where he signed up for unemployment insurance benefits. When he expressed his wish to earn a degree through Somerset Community and Technical College, he was referred to KCEOC Community Action Agency in Knox County.
KCEOC provides Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) services in Knox County under contract with the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP). Those services include programs for adults, dislocated workers, and for in-school and out-of-school youth who may need assistance honing skills such as résumé building or networking with local employers.
“They told me that KCEOC can help me longer, and once my unemployment benefits run out, they can take over,” Adkins remembers.
Adkins visited the KCEOC office, located on Court Street in Barbourville, where he signed up for WIOA services. As a dislocated worker, he was also eligible for services through the agency’s Community Impact program, which is funded through a U.S. Dept. of Labor National Emergency Grant awarded to EKCEP.
Through Community Impact, Adkins says he was able to continue covering his college tuition, and after two years of hard work and focusing on his goal, he not only earned a college degree in business administration, but five separate business-related certifications. And just as importantly, he landed a job interview with a company in Somerset for the position he’d been aiming for for years.
On the day of his graduation in 2018, Adkins interviewed for a recruiter position at Hidden Creek Transportation, the position where he continues to work today. It’s a job Adkins freely says he wouldn't have landed if not for the assistance provided by the career advisors at KCEOC who helped motivate him and ensure he received the services needed to succeed despite his initial nervousness about returning to school.
“I set my mind that I was going to do this one way or the other, but I would not have been able to do it at all without KCEOC,” Adkins says, adding that had KCEOC’s assistance not been available, he would have been forced to go back on the road 70 hours per week to continue to make a living.
Instead, Adkins is in a position as a driver recruiter where he spends his days speaking with prospective drivers and recruiting them for the business. He even spends some time behind the wheel on occasion, he says, when it’s needed to help out. It’s a job that he says he loves, and he’s working for a company that cares about its employees and treats them all like members of the family.
“I don’t have plans on going anywhere,” he says. “I love my job.”
Adkins credits the Community Impact program at KCEOC as something that gave him the boost he needed to ensure he was successful in beginning his new career. And it’s something he’s telling others about.
“I’ve already told two or three people to come here,” he says. “I’m a recruiter at heart and any time that I can refer somebody, I’ll always refer them. It was the best opportunity of my life.”
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.