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One-Stop gives help and hope

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Posted: Monday, October 5, 2009 10:00 pm

Need an employee and help with training expenses?

The Santa Cruz County One-Stop Career Center has revived its on-the-job training program, said Executive Director Patricia Wallace. Her staff will match a capable job seeker with an employer and pay half the worker’s salary for three months.

“I call it try before you buy,” Wallace said. “The expectation is that the employer hires the person.”

Another new offering at the center at 610 N. Morley Ave. is free computer classes for job seekers, Wallace said. A four-week course will begin Oct. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. Participants must register in advance and complete a survey to determine their class level.

Another class called “Lunch and Learn” will begin Oct. 19 and continue from noon to 1 p.m. every Monday, Wallace said. It will feature presentations on Microsoft Work, Excel and PowerPoint. Participants may bring a lunch and buy beverages from vending machines. No registration is required.

All the classes and the One-Stop services are free and open to all ages, but training is for individuals age 14 to 72, Wallace said. The center gives priority attention to veterans.

For an unemployed person, One-Stop provides career counseling and help writing a resume, looking for work and filling out applications, said eligibility specialist Belinda St. John. “It helps keep your spirits up.”

Soon, the center will be even more of a “one-stop shop,” Wallace said.

At the end of October, the Employment Services staff of the Department of Economic Security (DES) will move into the building, Wallace said. Currently, that office is located in the Food City parking lot on North Grand Avenue.

“We can reduce costs and maximize services,” Wallace said. The building already houses the county adult education program and the University of Arizona Santa Cruz.

“Sometimes the labor market requires that people change,” St. John said.

She looks at a job seekers’ past history and skills and “any area they’re passionate about. We try to find training to provide them with more marketable skills in that field,” she said.

Often, St. John pulls up the Web site for Arizona HEAT (Helping Everyone Access Training), she said. There, she hunts for a particular type of training to find out which state-approved school offers the course.

“We’re not successful if our participants aren’t successful,” St. John said.

Anyone is welcome to attend the computer classes or use the services at One-Stop, Wallace said. But for on-the-job training or a formal training course, the participant must qualify in terms of income. He or she must be a U.S. citizen or have the legal right to work in the U.S.

“On average, we are seeing about 400 people a month, a slight increase (over previous years),” Wallace said. Her office runs on about $1.5 million a year in funds from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

Who comes in looking for help?

It could be a person laid off from a store or restaurant or close to exhausting their unemployment benefits, St. John said. Or it could be someone who needs to go back to work because their life circumstances have changed.

During the summer, One-Stop staff see unemployed produce workers, Wallace said.

“We have seen some people convert out of that industry,” she said.

One or two looked at long-haul truck driving and others decided to train in the health care field, Wallace said.

One-Stop holds an orientation for job seekers at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. The next orientation is on Oct. 14. To register, or for more information, call (520) 375-7670.