Job centers provide
Computer access and job leads in Lancaster during troubled U.S. economy
Lancaster, CA - During this time in United States history when many of the nation’s people are dealing with the current recession, job placement and career centers are providing an added resource to many of the unemployed and job seekers.
“There are people who are coming that we have never seen before,” says Lancaster Job Placement’s counselor Cheryl Wicks. “They are very cooperative and receptive to the information that we provide. The people are frustrated with the reality of being unemployed but it gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge with them to help them be successful.” According to the job counselors and computer instructors at the various Lancaster job placement and career centers, the majority of the people who utilize their services are women, Latinos, and Blacks. “As of last month,” Ronald Nelson, a computer instructor with Community Careers, said. “About 15 million people were unemployed. You look inside those numbers, 8.8 percent are White. Then 12.4 percent are Latino. Blacks are hit the hardest at 15.8 percent.”
The customer base at these centers include college graduates, people who have attended college, high school graduates, and high school drop-outs. Many of the high school drop-outs, according to the career and job center counselors, are in the process of obtaining their GEDs.
“It can be a tough process,” says Lancaster Urban League Supervisor of Employment Placement Estella Ortiz. “Many of the people who, for whatever the reason, dropped out of high school experience difficulty finding quality employment. We provide the resources, services, and information to help them get their GEDs. We also provide them, as well as those who dropped out of college, information about college Pell grants and scholarships to get into colleges and universities to increase their market value.”
The people who utilize the careers centers in the Lancaster region of the Antelope Valley do not give up, despite the difficult job market. “Obviously, the economy is a mess right now,” remarked Tyrone Armstrong, 24, of Lancaster. “I graduated high school and went to work right after that. I have skills in construction and as a carpenter. With these career centers, I have been able to develop some computer skills. With the help of the career centers, I have been able to land some interviews. The computer system, as well as the pamphlets and brochures, give me a lot of resources that I wouldn’t get out on my own.”
Nelson indicated that constructions workers such as Armstrong have experienced some of the hardest challenges from the nation’s unemployment troubles. “The construction industry has lost about 2 million jobs since December 2007,” Nelson said. “In February of this year, construction employment dropped by 64,000. Most of the job losses were in commercial construction, which is contracting as large developers struggle to pay their bills.”
In cases where a particular industry is going through massive lay-offs, career transitions sometimes need to be taken in consideration, Ortiz suggested. “There are quite a few people who have come through our program,” the Urban League supervisor said, “who are college graduates. Depending on their degrees and their backgrounds, many of them have transitioned into teaching. We have helped many of our job seekers find employment as day-to-day substitutes, afterschool tutors, and in-library instructors.”
In these cases, the teaching jobs offer the flexibility to earn money while applying to and interviewing for new jobs. This is what happened with Lancaster resident Marcia Evans, who worked as an accountant before being laid off after six years with a litigation law firm. “I was pretty much doing what I wanted to do,” Evans said. “I love working with numbers. Then the recession kicked in. I was laid off from this law firm. About a year later, the firm itself went under.
“At the career center I was going to,” she continued, “a counselor suggested that because I have a bachelor’s degree I should look into afterschool tutoring or even day-to-day substituting as a math teacher. Because the hours are shorter, I can still look for and go to job interviews without having to take a day off. Without that career center advice, I don’t know where I would have made money from because I couldn’t find an accounting job right away.”
In providing information and career counseling, these centers provide a resource system and a support network to those looking for employment. In addition, career and job centers in the Lancaster area help customers develop computer, job, and job interview skills. “We are proud of the service we provide,” Wicks said. “ Many of these people do go out and find employment. And, yes, there are times I will bump into one of them around town and they will thank me for the help. That is a gratifying experience.”
“The people seem to genuinely appreciate the help that we are providing them with,” Nelson added. “These are trying times. The previous administration (President George W. Bush; Vice President Dick Cheney) just left the country in shambles. For better or worse, we are a part of the rebuilding process for those who are unemployed.”
As the U.S. continues to work its way out of the recession, job and career centers in Lancaster and across the country are playing key roles in helping those who are among the unemployed. It is the goal of these centers to inform its clients of job opportunities and put them in position to be hired.
So Ralph's is looking for a few good employees to help them stay open in case of a strike from grocery workers.
The union representing Southland grocery workers has issued a notice of its intention to cancel the contract extension under which union members have been working since March. The union issued the 72-hour notice yesterday, meaning that theoretically, a work stoppage could occur as early as Sunday night.
Hundreds of potential hires turned out on Thursday to meet with subcontractors for the Forum Renovation Project.
The meeting was held at Faithful Central Bible Church, the former owner of the Forum. The historic but rundown arena in Inglewood was sold to Madison Square Garden in June 2012.
The facility, built in 1967, was the former home of the Lakers and Kings, and the site of numerous memorable rock concerts.
Madison Square Garden, the owner of the Inglewood Forum, and Clark Construction are inviting local residents interested in the contruction trades to meet with subcontractors for the Forum Renovation Project today from 10 a.m. to noon. On the agenda are such issues as project overview, construction jobs, local worker placement opportunities, support services such as South Bay 1 Stop and union representatives.
The meeting will be held at Faithful Central Church, the Living Room, 333 W. Florence Ave., in Inglewood.
Who wouldn’t want to spend the summer months sleeping until noon, and the rest of the day scouring the malls for the latest Hip Hop fashion or hanging out at the park shooting hoops?
Antelope Valley College (AVC) hosts its 18th semi-annual career information and job fair April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on campus in the Fine Arts Quad, 3041 West Avenue K, Lancaster.
The job fair is open to AVC students as well as job seekers from the general public.
An estimated 80 representatives from companies in the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas are expected to set up booths. To get a detailed list of businesses expected to attend, visit the web site www.myavc.edu, click on student services and then job placement.