Nearly a decade ago, California began revamping its unemployment system. Today, the state has more than 100 one-stop career centers providing a broad range of training, education and employment programs.
The one-stop idea grew out of the welfare reform efforts of the 1990's. As a result, most centers not only help people find jobs, but also help them deal with barriers to work - from lack of transportation and telephones to childcare and housing.
"The one-stops provide core employment services," explains Suzanne Schroeder of the Communications Office of California's Employment Development Department. "Every one is somewhat different from the others. Some are full-service; some are satellites. Some are even kiosks so you can go online and get the information you need."
Here to Help
Some of the centers are located in ethnic communities and designed to help minorities with cultural and language barriers. Most, if not all, provide help for people with disabilities.
Whatever the focus, each full-service location provides certain basics:
- Career counseling and assessment;
- Automated job postings;
- Information on job trends;
- Help filling out unemployment insurance and other forms; and
- Help finding money to cover the cost of training.
"The emphasis is on helping people," Schroeder stresses. "We try to give them options so they can make informed choices."
Most centers have a resource room with computers, faxes and telephones. Counselors provide testing and assessment of skills, while self-help groups polish job-search skills.
"The one-stops are designed to give self-help services," Schroeder says. "People use what they need. People can come in for training, for the Cal Jobs system, for help finding childcare."
While many of these services can be found at community colleges and private counseling centers, millions of tax dollars have been spent to make the state system as comprehensive and easy to use as possible. One of the results is an emphasis on cooperation between the Employment Development Department (EDD) and local agencies.
"The one-stops are partnership-based," acknowledges Christine Welsch, Program Officer of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency. "It used to be that the EDD and the welfare office were separate, often far away. With the advent of welfare reform, we said we couldn't do this alone. We needed other resources."
Sacramento County now has 14 career centers spread across the region. The areas with the highest concentration of jobseekers and low-income residents got centers first, areas whose inhabitants often needed help with many different barriers.
"We stepped up to the plate to provide multi-service centers with social services, medical, mental health and child protection," Welsch points out. "In addition to services, some centers have brought economic development with them."
One of the surprise benefits of the system's growth has been the creation of jobs in the local area - at the center and at the social service agencies.
The Hillsdale office, which opened four years ago with a half-dozen staff and the Head Start program involved, is an example of this positive benefit to the local community. Today, there are five other organizations participating and about 150 people working in the complex.
To help meet community needs, each one-stop is operated differently. The Alameda one-stop, for instance, has a registration and orientation from 10am to 2pm Monday through Friday.
"People can come in and get registered for our programs and services free of charge," notes Dona Hoard, Interim Director and Site Manager of the Alameda One-Stop Career and Business Center.
Once a person registers, they can begin to access the services the center offers, which include approximately 25 workshops a month on everything from resume writing and career exploration to job interviewing.
"If you enroll in one of those, there is a specific, personal effort by our staff to go through the process with you," Hoard vows.
Before anyone spends a lot of time in training, however, the center staff helps perform a labor market analysis to determine whether there is sufficient demand in the field being considered. The one-stops also partner with employers to make it easier to recruit potential employees through the EDD system.
Most importantly, counselors work with people to get them free training. "We will help people submit the requirements for approval to get paid training if at all possible," Hoard says.
Alameda staff also encourages people to continue their job search during training so they can continue to get jobless benefits.
Hoard notes that the region got special money for teacher training in technology. "If someone has tech field experience with a background in science or math, they can get training for teaching free of charge."
A Location Near You
For more information on the One-Stop in your area, go to edd.ca.gov and click on 'career centers.' Listings usually include a street address, telephone and website address as well as hours of operation.
For example, San Francisco County has 22 listings, including Chinese, Korean, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Youth and Women's services as well as the Conservation Corps, housing and special schools.
By combining employment help with social services and computer access, California's one-stops are making it easier than ever for the people of the Golden State to become a permanent part of the workforce.
Here's a guide to some of the major career centers and job clubs in Northern California:
Bay Area Career Centers
Alameda One-Stop Career Center
College of Alameda
555 Atlantic Avenue
Bay Area Urban League
2201 Broadway Street Oakland
University YWCA Turning Point Career Center
2600 Bancroft, Berkeley
Career Action Center
UCSC Extension Bldg
10420 Bubb Rd, #100
ACCESS One-Stop Career Center
24100 Amador Street
The Learning Annex
291 Geary Street
Sacramento Career Centers
La Familia Counseling Center
5523 34th Street
5451 Lemon Hill Ave
6015 Watt Ave, Suite 4
Sacramento Works Career Center
10665 Coloma Rd, #200
Sacramento Urban League
3725 Marysville Blvd
Del Paso Heights
Turning Point Employment Services Program
601 North Market Blvd Suite 300
Central Valley Career Centers
Lodi WorkNet Center
631 East Oak Street
Lodi, CA 95241
Stockton WorkNet Center
850 North Hunter St
Stockton, CA 95202
Manteca WorkNet Center
1783 West Yosemite Ave
Manteca, CA 95336
Tri-City One Stop
Fremont: (510) 794-3581
Oakland: (510) 337-0790
Oakland: (510) 563-5210
Pleasant Hill: (925) 602-5026
San Francisco: (415) 771-1776
Stockton: (209) 468-3510
San Rafael: (415) 507-3510
Peninsula Professional Network
San Mateo: (650) 652-7858
Sunnyvale: (408) 736-2391
Sacramento Professional Network - (916) 227-0330
Employment Development Department (edd.ca.gov/jscjb.htm
- lists of clubs and other jobseeker services throughout the state.
The Riley Guide (RileyGuide.com
- job listings, resources and lists of job clubs throughout the country and on-line.
America's Service Locator (ServiceLocator.org
- a database search for jobseeker organizations/clubs by zip code.