Over 50,000 job seekers each year take classes, navigate complicated employment applications, and receive mentoring and career counseling from King County staff at WorkSource Renton. Until recently, staff often spent a significant amount of time troubleshooting problems on older desktop workstations than working directly with job seekers. That has all changed thanks to an employee-driven efficiency measure, which is also projected to save $45,000 annually.
“We encourage King County employees to be creative problem solvers,” said King County Chief Information Officer Bill Kehoe. “I am proud of the solution they engineered to best serve thousands of people who can now focus on their job search, and not have to worry about failing and outdated technology.”
After re-thinking the technology troubles, Master LAN Administrator Quang Truong began experimenting with thin client technology, to replace the aging PC’s in the facility’s computer labs and training rooms.
“I thought, why are we spending so much money and time to do something the way it has always been done, rather than taking advantage of new technology?” said Truong.
Truong, along with IT Services Manager Michael Litt, and Workforce Development Administrator George Dignan, soon realized that this solution would enable a greater degree of flexibility for the computer labs. And it would be affordable. Rather than completely replacing the computers, existing monitors and keyboards would use thin client technology to access software and applications stored on a central server. This would enable users to access up-to-date version of software without any changes to their experience.
A thin client is a small inexpensive solution that relies on a server at a remote location to do the majority of the computing work. Now, all that exists at WorkSource Renton are inexpensive computer monitors and keyboards on desks - which are actually managed through a server located at the King County Data Center. This way, staff can run maintenance and troubleshoot all in one location, saving time and money.
“People with little-to-no computer experience can use the new Thin Clients in the exact same way they would use a traditional computer,” added Kehoe. “They won’t know there is a difference.”
In addition, support costs have decreased since the server software could be managed remotely, and on-site staff were not needed to fix jammed floppy discs, repair drives, and coax old computers to function.
HERO internship program member Corrie Maxwell teaches veterans job searching strategies and resume building skills at WorkSource Renton. The HERO program offers six-month paid internships to qualified veterans, along with support services tailored to men and women re-entering the civilian world. She looks out over her classroom of 12 new thin client workstations and smiles.
"I anticipate that things will run really smoothly now," said Maxwell. "Being a veteran myself, I know the challenges in transitioning to civilian life, and this improved technology is really going to help our veterans prepare for employment opportunities in the community."
WorkSource Renton, operated by King County, is part of the WorkSource Seattle-King County network of workforce partners that leverage funding and resources across King County to provide job seekers and businesses with no-cost, high value employment and training services, utilizing hands-on classroom learning and computer labs for online training and resume building. The network consists of seven physical locations and 14 connection sites, with WorkSource Renton as the King County managed one-stop center.
Click through our photo gallery of WorkSource Renton here