“People see us as another unemployment office of EDD, when in fact we are so much more than that.”
Herbert Villa, Business Service Representative for the Workforce Resource Center in Santa Maria, says community members are often surprised to learn just how many different services the facility offers to both job seekers and businesses in need of employees.
Located at 1410 S. Broadway in Santa Maria, the Workforce Resource Center is available for the entire local community, free of charge. Services for job seekers include job search and placement, on the job training, individual and group counseling, comprehensive assessment, employment-related services and more.
Business services include candidate referral, assistance with recruiting and interviewing, labor market data, customized training and more.
“Businesses can access any of the services we offer free of charge,” Villa said. “Job seekers can access any of our services here in the resource room, or by attending a WIOA (Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act) orientation and meeting with a career agent. Career services are funded through the US department of Labor and are provided to the job seeker free of charge.”
The WIOA is one of the programs Villa says can be incredibly valuable to both job seekers and businesses, but many are simply unaware it exists.
In conjunction with the Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County, WIOA provides job seekers with career services, retraining services and on-the-job training services. Villa explains how the program works:
“Here in Santa Maria we provide one on one counseling with a career agent to help develop an individual employment plan. That comprehensive assessment includes labor market information to help prepare the job seeker for work in high-growth, high demand industries here locally. That plan may also include retraining from approved providers on the CalJobs Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL), to provide the job seeker with the skills needed in their new job,” he explains. “Then, with the help of a Business Services Representative, we help match that job seeker with an employer to help fill that workforce pipeline.”
One of the great things about the WIOA program is the funding it provides to employers to pay for the trained employees.
“The WIOA grant will pay 50% of a new employees wages for up to 1040 hours, if the new employee is enrolled in our WIOA program,” Villa said.
Job seekers who are interested in enrolling in the WIOA program need to simply fill out at WIOA Inquiry Form, available at the Workforce Resource Center, attend an orientation workshop at the Workforce Resource Center, and gather all the required paperwork. From there, job seekers are assigned a career agent and enrolled into the program, and begin their path to sustained employment.
Villa says the WIOA program is just one of the ways the Workforce Resource Center aims to be a helping hand for those individuals trying to find a good fit for longterm employment.
“I think we play a vital role in our community by helping the job seeker through a tough time in their career.,” Villa said. “We can help them navigate the constantly changing work environment and help provide them with the skills to transition in to their new roles.”
And perhaps just as important is engaging with local businesses who may be a good fit for those seeking employment.
“Employers can (and should!) really take advantage of free services. New employers can take advantage of a newly trained job pool, as well as access on-the-job training funds,” explained Villa. “Businesses can get involved by letting the center examine their needs and challenges. We can then develop a plan to provide services that promote profitability. We can draw on our knowledge of community resources to create a partnership between the workforce and the job seeker.”
While Villa continues to see more and more community members taking advantages of the services offered at the Workforce Resource Center, he hopes to continue to engage more of the community so we can continue to strengthen the workforce here in Santa Maria.
“I think a lot of the community is unaware of all the different types of services offered here at the center, and we’re really trying to get the word out there and help businesses and job seekers alike,” Villa said. “The great thing about the Workforce Resource Center is that the entire community can access the resources here. And I think both the business community and job seekers will find we really have a lot to offer them.”
If job seekers or businesses want to take advantage of the services at the Santa Maria Workforce Resource Center, they simply need to stop by the center, located at 1410 S. Broadway in Santa Maria, and speak to any one of their staff. They are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those interested can also call (805) 614-1550 and set up an appointment to meet with a Career Agent or a Business Services Representative.