Employment seekers flood job centers

January 9, 2009 7:04:39 PM PST
The new unemployment numbers came as no surprise to Bay Area job search agencies. People who never imagined they'd be out of work are desperate to figure out what to do next, and the non-profit centers that help them are swamped.

Deidra Jow worked for Microsoft for 16 years. She also volunteered at Jewish Vocational Service in San Francisco, where she helped people find jobs.

The center has been overwhelmed with an explosion of clients looking for work.

"The computer terminals are full, the classes are full, the demand has gone way up," said Jow.

Last fall, Microsoft laid off Deidra, so now she's a client at the job center, as well as a volunteer.

"Looking for a job really is a skill. And if it's something you don't do very often, you are probably not very good at it," said Jow.

Jewish Vocational Service, known as JVS, provides a wide range of services for job seekers. Most of the programs are free, paid for by grants and donations. JVS has been around 35 years, but the need has never been so great.

"Over the last six months, calls to JVS have doubled and we've seen increases in our actual caseload of up to 50 percent. And what we are seeing is demands and needs from people of all walks of life," said JVS Executive Director Abby Snay.

A few miles away at Goodwill Industries, a new job search center called One Stop is also seeing huge demand.

"We opened our doors on Oct. 6 and our goal was to have a total of 200 a month come through the doors, and last month, we had over 1,000," said One Stop Career Center Director Troy Henry.

The center opened with no publicity at all -- just word of mouth. But it's packed every day.

There are other One Stop centers all over the Bay Area. They're funded with government money and all the services are free. Sam Devore is a client.

"I'm looking for a job in the administration, clerical field," said Devore.

Sam says One Stop has given him new hope.

"I've had a couple job leads. I actually went on two interviews and I did pretty well," said Devore.

Sam is still waiting to hear whether he got either job, and in the meantime, he keeps looking.

One Stop just announced new longer hours to keep up with the huge demand.

"We will do what we have to do is make sure everybody gets serviced," said Henry.

Over at JVS, the staff is also trying to figure out how to serve all the new clients. They hold workshops on networking and finding a job. The instructor usually works as a fundraiser for JVS. But now she's teaching too, so JVS can offer more classes.

The center does provide one-on-one counseling. But they're increasing the number of group programs so they can serve more people faster.

"I was downsized from my company last March," said Jacqueline Ham.

Ham is getting private counseling and taking classes. She says even with the flood of other people looking for work, she's glad she came to JVS for help.

"When you are around positive people, and people that can think outside the box, and give you other opportunities and ways of thinking. It just gives you some value and -- you are moving forward," said Ham.

In a tough job market, experts suggest you consider temporary or part-time work to make ends meet. Then, look for a job that better suits your long-term goals.

Related Links:

  • To find out more about Jewish Vocational Service click on: www.jvs.org
  • To find out more about Goodwill Industries, One Stop Career Center in San Francisco call 415-575-4570
  • To find the One Stop Career Center nearest you click on www.servicelocator.org

    Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.


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