Ray of hope for California Central Valley: Job training gets boost

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Workforce training will put Central Valley layoff victims back to work. (Photo Credit: Nick Winterhalter)

The headlines for California’s Central Valley region, during the heart of the recession, were not good. To say the area’s economy suffered hard would be an understatement.  At the lowest point, the unemployment rate, in some areas in the Central Valley, was in 16.3 percent in December 2010.

Three years later, the Central Valley is still suffering, lagging behind the rest of the state. In fact, in the last 12 months, there were almost 12,000 documented lay-offs. All of this happened while the Workforce Investment Boards in the Valley received a reduced cut of Workforce Investment Act funds.

But there are brighter days ahead and it starts with a $2.5 million grant from the state’s Employment Development Department. The money will help more than 460 laid-off workers to re-enter the workforce.

“During the past year, the Central Valley has experienced a number of business closures and layoffs, severely depressing local economies and spiking the unemployment rate to 14.6 percent,” said EDD Director Pam Harris. “This grant will instill a ray of hope in the region by giving the local communities the tools necessary to retrain unemployed workers for skilled jobs in booming industries.”

The grant was awarded to the Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet, which will lead the efforts on behalf of the Central California Workforce Collaborative.

“In awarding this grant, the State acknowledged that additional resources were needed to serve the victims of these lay-offs,” said Jeff Rowe, director of Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet. “This grant will allow the participating Workforce Investment Boards to assess the needs of the dislocated workers being served and provide an array of services depending on the needs of each individual.”

Laid-off workers in Stanislaus, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Inyo and Mono counties will receive the retraining and services.

Those services include:

  • career counseling
  • technical skills training
  • job search assistance
  • job development
  • on the job training
  • paid internships
  • support services

Retraining these workers will be for those “high demanding jobs in the Central Valley like agriculture, energy, health and wellness, logistics, manufacturing, water technology, and public sector infrastructure projects,” said Rowe.

“An additional focus will be preparing workers for jobs with new businesses locating to the Valley.”

Developing a next-gen workforce is one of many goals of the Economic Summit. Leaders from across California continue to work on the Summit’s seven Signature Initiatives, which includes workforce development. Follow the work being done with the Summit Progress Tracker.


Cheryl Getuiza

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