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Shauna Riisoe works at the South Metro Career Center, one of several one-stop centers operated by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

What’s your role at the center?

In terms of daily assignments, we all switch around between the front desk, the lobby, the resource lab, and facilitating workshops when necessary. We often have job fairs or circumstances where employers use our center to hold recruitments, so we will help out getting them settled in as well.

Tell me about these career centers.

Well, it starts with the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933. This act established a nationwide system of public employment offices then known as the United States Employment Service. The Wagner-Peyser Act was amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). This amendment transformed the employment service into the One-Stop services system. These two acts are why career centers exist and mandate the funding and function of the centers. There are six career centers in the San Diego Career Center Network and many satellite branches.

Who frequents them?

Most people who use our centers are those who are unemployed and looking for a job. We also serve clients who have a job but are looking for a better one. We have an incredibly wide variety of clients – single, with families, young, old, variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Please tell me about the services the career centers provides.

Well, the very basics are: computer access with Internet and Microsoft Office 2007, printers, faxes, telephones. We also offer a variety of workshops, including but not limited to: résumés/cover letters, interviewing techniques, labor market information, networking, career assessment, and online applications.

How often do most people come for the basic services? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

This varies widely depending on each client. Some clients have a set schedule, some may come every day for a week and then not come back for a few weeks.

What other kinds of programs do the centers provide?

There are just so many I know I am going to miss a few. We have special programs for youth, veterans, individuals with disabilities, military personnel and their spouses, just to start. We are very lucky at South Metro to work alongside representatives from Deaf Community Services. We have a Business Services team that maintains contact with employers around the area and brings in recruitments and job leads. We can also assist with job training: allocating individual training accounts, partnering with universities, community colleges, and companies like Occupational Training Services and Comprehensive Training Systems. Then, there are services like the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts, Transition Assistance Program, Operation Welcome Home CalVet Corps, establishing potential eligibility for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

What are the requirements for participating in these programs?

This is really going to vary depending on the needs of each client and the requirements of each program. It is just very different for each one.

What comes of the programs? Do you ever get to hear of people’s successes?

Absolutely. Clients do let us know when they have graduated from training or found employment and there is a list of success stories on the website (sandiegoatwork.com).

Of those who do end up finding work, do you see patterns in their work habits that might lead to their success, or is it just luck?

In my personal opinion, first – and by far the most important – is maintaining a positive attitude. When you keep a pleasant outlook on life, it makes others want to assist you and can open doors for you in extraordinary ways. Second, I would say have the ability to successfully self-evaluate. Know your strengths and how to use them. Know your opportunities for growth and work on those areas – all the while highlighting your good qualities.

Anything else we should know about?

Actually, I’ve just created a proposal for a networking club at South Metro. The benefit each client receives will be directly proportional to the energy that he or she puts into the club. The more that each person gets to know other members, the more available resources he or she will have, like job leads, job-seeking techniques and industry contacts. It will be a support network, where everyone keeps an eye out for applicable job referrals, and everyone gets the opportunity to connect with new contacts through other club members. Clients will also get to practice talking about themselves and get comfortable selling themselves as professionals. It’s just a proposal for now, but stay tuned.

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