Grant to help unemployed find new skills


A significant number of laid-off workers in San Mateo County will get help learning new skills. Still, there are no guarantees.

Devon Holt used to work at Bay Meadows until the race track closed last August after 74 years. Holt is one of the more than 1500 Bay Meadows and United Airlines former employees San Mateo County hopes to retrain for new jobs.

Fred Sloan is the Workforce Development Manager for San Mateo's Human Services Agency.

"It'll be tough. It'll be tough because folks won't return to the airlines. They probably won't return to the work they were doing at Bay Meadows. So we'll have to help them figure out where to go, what new skills make sense, and how they can get there quickly," he said.

California EDD has given the county's Peninsula Works career centers an $890,000 grant in order to retrain those workers for jobs in other fields.

San Mateo County says the grant came at an opportune time.

Unemployment has gone up 50 percent countywide in the last year. There were 14,800 unemployed in November of 2007. As of November 2008 it is 21,800.

Due to the type of work the United and Bay Meadows employees had, Sloan says the grant will pay for specialized training.

"They may need longer training, more intensive training and more support," Sloan says.

Ana Duenas was a Training Schedule Coordinator for United Airlines maintenance workers. She was laid off on July 15th after working for United for ten years.

"It was sad," said Duenas. "But at the same time it was an opportunity for me to look for some other opportunities for myself."

She would now like to start her own business.

"The one that is related to airline industry… So, I would like to take a travel agency class. I'm thinking of putting a business...," she said.

The grant and training is now available to those targeted employees.

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