JobTrain has good placement in bad economy

October 8, 2009 6:43:00 PM PDT
There's a sign the unemployment problem may be easing. For the fourth time in five weeks, the number of people filing for the first time has dropped off to the lowest number since January. Still, 521,000 people filed new claims last week and it is creating pressure to create jobs.

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A ringing bell is the sound of success whenever someone at Menlo Park's JobTrain lands a job. The hope is that thousands more will soon get their turn at the bell. That is the underlying anxiety every job seeker feels when taking classes to sharpen skills or to learn new ones.

So, how do you create jobs for them? Developer David Bohannon is a good example. He's planning a new complex on a new site in Menlo Park. He's working with JobTrain to recruit 1,900 construction workers and 230 others to staff a hotel and health club.

"We would like to make sure that the jobs that are created by this project go first to Menlo Park residents," says Bohannon.

The long-time executive director of JobTrain, Sharon Williams, says the program last year had a 75 percent placement rate. It's exceeding 80 percent in recent months.

"So I think that the secret is just very practical, and that is to keep your eye on what's happening, where are the jobs, where are the opportunities, and then training people for the very practical and applicable skills that they need to succeed in those areas," says Williams.

The state assembly's committee on jobs is also evaluating the success of enterprise zones, such as ones in San Jose. Statewide, companies realize over $431 million in tax benefits by creating new jobs. Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, hopes this will help Silicon Valley's new solar focus.

"We're trying to develop a complete package where we have manufacturing, construction and all the services for the people in that green tech industry right here, jobs right here in California," says Beall.

Groundbreaking for the Bohannon project won't happen until sometime in 2011, but when they're ready, first crack for those jobs will go to the graduates at JobTrain.

LINK: jobtrainworks.org

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