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One-stop Job Shop

Eileen JoyceGene Chittenden of Grass Valley is interviewed at Workforce Connection in Nevada City on Wednesday.
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There’s one place where a slumping economy means more business – the Workforce Connection one-stop career center.

By late Wednesday morning, the career center at 117 New Mohawk Road in Nevada City had eight visitors. Some were searching for jobs on Internet sites, others were working on their resumes, and one person was interviewing for a job.



Ken Hewgill of Penn Valley said he has used the center to refocus his career goals after he was laid off from Grass Valley Group in October. He is looking at attending schools in the Sacramento area to train in computer certification.




The electronics industry is a tough business to get a job in right now, Hewgill said. “It’s pretty sparse out there.”

Ashley Petersen of Grass Valley has been working on her resume in an effort to get back to work after maternity leave. So far, she has been looking for six weeks for a position in customer service or office work.

“This place has helped me a lot,” said Petersen.

While the center can’t create more jobs, it can make a dent in the recession by helping people who have lost their jobs, said Tom Medley, Nevada and Sierra County program manager for Golden Sierra Job Training Agency.

“Our efforts will help the individuals that are displaced by the economy as far as losing their jobs get redirected to the available job needs of the community, and redirected (on) how to apply for the new jobs, how to get retrained for the new jobs, how to get placed, and retain the new jobs,” Medley said.

“We can help slow the effect of the recession by being there for the people that the recession has affected,” he said. “We’re here to assist, and that’s what we want to do.”

The one-stop center, known as Workforce Connection, officially opened in July 2000.

In recent months, a slumping economy has brought more people to the center – as many as 50 a day in October.

Visits were up 58 percent in 2001 from 2000, reaching a total of 4,377. January saw 542 visits to the center, its second-highest month behind January 2001, when 569 people stopped by.

Some of the increase is due to word getting out about the center, Medley said.

The center has seen more 30-to-50-year-old, middle-class people with solid work histories and houses to pay off. They are highly motivated job-seekers, said Betty Simms, work force development representative for Golden Sierra Job Training Agency.

Steve Russell, a work force development representative with the agency who helps staff the center, said highly skilled workers such as technical writers and software engineers are looking for jobs.

Alan Falstreau, chairman of the Workforce Investment Board that oversees one-stop centers in five counties, said Workforce Connection has done well in a number of areas.

The center has done a very good job in terms of matching up a limited number of jobs with a higher number of people who need them, Falstreau said.

The center is also “ahead of the curve” in helping workers to improve their skills and in going out to businesses to find out what they need, Falstreau said.

Workforce Connection and 443 other one-stop centers in California were set up as part of an act of Congress – the 1998 Workforce Investment Act. The act requires a number of work force-related programs to make their services available through one-stop centers.

Agencies involved in the Workforce Connections center include Calworks, Golden Sierra Job Training Agency, 49er Regional Occupation Program, Economic Development Department, Department of Rehabilitation and Sierra College.

Most of the center’s funding comes from Golden Sierra, which provides about $60,000 annually. Golden Sierra’s budget totaled $650,000 for the year ending June 30, 2001.

GET CONNECTED

Workforce Connection can be reached at 265-3204.


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