Nevada County’s One-Stop career center changes lives, 1 job at a time |

Nevada County’s One-Stop career center changes lives, 1 job at a time

For years Kim Collyer owned her own cleaning business, but in the fall of 2013 she decided to make a career change. So she went to Grass Valley's One-Stop Business and Career Center and told the staff that she wanted to be a medical assistant.

"I didn't have a steady paycheck and essentially having a cleaning business, I didn't really have any marketable skills. Anyone can clean," Collyer, 41, said. "So when I went in there, I wanted a more professional job. They granted me money for my course. Now I'm a medical assistant for a dermatology office in Auburn, and One-Stop has been following me every step of the way."

During a time of economic uncertainty, Grass Valley's One-Stop Business and Career Center strives to contribute to economic development in Nevada County by helping to streamline workforce talent to local businesses and organizations — building a bridge to jobs for the unemployed.

"We cover all of Nevada County," Grass Valley One-Stop Business and Career Center Manager Shavati Karki-Pearl said. "We also partner with the CalWorks program and we provide significant support to that program, as well, because we are literally housed in the same location. But otherwise, we are a totally independent entity."

Located on the 700 block of Maltman Drive in Grass Valley, One-Stop has been in Nevada County for close to six years and is a branch of the national brand Career One-Stop, an organization sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor.

Locally, though, Grass Valley's One-Stop Business and Career Center has become the "one stop shop" providing opportunities for job seekers through training and human resource assistance to local businesses. The group also offers career search and exploration and employment workshops for residents who want to become more marketable in their chosen career field.

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"We want people to understand that we are an economic development program with social benefits," Karki-Pearl said.

"Yes, our core job is to help anybody and everybody who needs job placement, but beyond that, our focus is to find the right candidate for the companies who are really in dire need of talented staff."

Funded by the Workforce Investment Act— a federal program that authorizes services for youth, adults and laid-off workers, also known as WIA — the nonprofit organization provides a key service in responding to layoffs and closures through their Rapid Response program.

"Rapid Response is an immediate, organized service to help workers and employers deal with the effects of significant layoffs and closures," One-Stop CEO Kathy Sarmiento said.

"Timing is key, as services are the most effective when we're able to connect with employees before the separation occurs."

One-Stop has recently helped laid-off employees from local companies like Grass Valley USA, Sierra Video, Clear Capital and Serra Corporation. The Rapid Response team is currently focused on the Miranda and Grass Valley facilities' merger into the Whispering Pines business park in Grass Valley — a merger that will likely yield a number of layoffs in the coming year.

According to Sarmiento, One-Stop is actively engaging employees affected by the merger, including workers from diverse backgrounds, from a manufacturing assembler with detailed precision and programming experience to an executive-level manager who has overseen international manufacturing, production budgets and sales relations.

"It's not often that we have multiple businesses in this situation," Sarmiento said. "This is a highly skilled pool of professionals looking for the right opportunity."

One-Stop also seeks to help local businesses identify key talent before they seek employment in other counties or states.

"We seek out businesses to help them address their needs," Grass Valley One-Stop Business and Career Center Staffing Specialist Christine Hoxsie said. "We have access to a wonderful pool of talent here, of skilled and specialized workers from all backgrounds and pay grades. So we want to build more partnerships with local companies in order to give them access to these job seekers."

With a Nevada County unemployment rate of 6.4 percent and the recent 2-percent dip in the county's civilian workforce, local economic development has become a high priority. Hoxsie, though, says that more than 100 people come through their doors every day, allowing One-Stop to help the local economy by providing jobs for the unemployed.

Sierra College student Melody Finau enrolled in One-Stop's youth program in July 2013. At the time, Finau, 18, was a senior at Nevada Union High School and was connected to the group through a school club she participated in. Finau said that through the One-Stop youth program she was able to attend resume and career exploration workshops that have helped her gain skills she didn't have before.

Finau was also able to get paid work for six months with two nonprofits, which allowed her to socialize with a diverse group of clients, from disabled adults to young children. She says that experience helped her realize what she wants to do with her life.

"It opened my eyes to the different career opportunities that I have, and it showed me what I'm interested in, and it made my career path more clear," Finau said.

"Right now I work as a nanny, and I'm studying social work because experiencing the work I had to do with One-Stop kind of showed me the agents that I want to work with. I'm sure that I want to work with people, and that's what I know right now."

But for Collyer, One-Stop offers more than just career support.

"Some people need to be told that they can do this, and that's something that they gave me, is emotional support, as well as financial," Collyer said.

"So they were on my side, and it was good to know that they were there for me."

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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