WDBCCC Partner Highlights
Employment Development Department Workforce Services Branch
A key partner for the WDBCCC is California’s Employment Development Department Workforce Services Branch (WSB). The EDD WSB delivers several employment and training programs, including those authorized by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Wagner-Peyser Act. The department seeks to prepare all jobseekers for the workforce, including dislocated workers, youth, veterans, people with disabilities, and migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The EDD WSB also manages CalJOBS, an online resource for jobseekers and employers.
WDBCCC board member Richard Johnson is the Cluster Manager for the EDD WSB Concord office. In this role, he leads program delivery for Contra Costa County.
In conjunction with the WDBCCC, the WSB serves jobseekers with:
- Assistance registering in CalJOBS
- One-on-one career coaching
- How-to information through workshops on job applications, resumes, interview preparation and more
- Assistance with Unemployment Insurance (UI), disability insurance and paid family leave
The EDD WSB’s services to employers include:
- Connections to work-ready employees
- Seminars to promote inclusionary hiring for underserved and underrepresented populations
As the state emerges from the pandemic, Johnson said, a challenge workers face is receiving UI benefits. While his department does not process workers’ UI-related claims, his colleagues help workers navigate the UI system to understand the delay.
The WSB Concord Field Office is starting to return to in-person service. Johnson and his colleagues began seeing customers by appointment on a part-time basis in July. Starting on Aug. 16, customers can walk in for assistance Monday through Friday.
AMBayArea, Partners Create New Tool to Find Online Manufacturing Training Courses
COVID-19 limited in-person skills training opportunities, even as workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic needed it. Last summer, EASTBAYWorks and its partner WDB’s (Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Oakland, Richmond), teamed up with AMBayArea (an association of manufacturers) and the Bay Area Community Colleges to create a solution. (WDBCCC is among the workforce development boards that provides funding support to AMBayArea.)
Together, they developed a search tool called the Online Manufacturing Course Catalog. The search tool includes more than 1,400 online manufacturing courses that have been vetted to ensure they offer high-quality training. It also includes more than 600 in-person manufacturing courses offered at Bay Area Community Colleges. Users can filter by training provider, price type, difficulty, format, language, career category and skills, so they can quickly narrow down their search without having to scroll through page after page.
“There are ways of upgrading your skillset through online, and there are quite a number of courses out there, some free, others relatively low-cost, that can help you find careers and find out if you’re interested in those careers,” said Mark Martin, the Bay Area Community Colleges’ regional director of Advanced Manufacturing Employer Engagement, and an AMBayArea Board Member.
Screenshot of search tool
The training search tool can be accessed for free on the AMBayArea website.
Martin explained the search tool was designed for a range of manufacturing workers, from beginners to experienced workers. There are introductory courses for workers transitioning from another industry, such as retail or hospitality or other industries hard-hit by the pandemic. There are also courses for experienced manufacturing workers who want to add to their skillset to land a new job. Even current workers can upskill for better performance in their current job.
The search tool is especially helpful for workforce development counselors. It puts training options at their fingertips while working with workers.
“We really wanted to have a way to find online courses that will make it a lot easier for the counselors to find training opportunities for their clients,” Martin said. “The need for this tool was driven by the lack of in-person courses available during the current crisis.”
Find the training you need to gain new skills in manufacturing or share this link with someone who would be interested: https://ambayarea.com/mfgcoursecatalog/.
Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force
“In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we will rebuild better, generating higher-quality jobs and wealth creation opportunities in Contra Costa County that advance racial inclusion.” –Shared Vision of the Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force
WDBCCC envisions an equitable economic recovery for all in Contra Costa County and is actively working with the Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD) and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership (CCEP) as a partner in the Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force.
“We are working together to respond to an economic crisis made worse by COVID-19,” said Kristin Connelly, Executive Director of the CCEP. “Building back with a more equitable and sustainable economy is not just possible, it is essential.”
(Find task force meeting recordings and slide presentations)
CCEP has taken the lead on the action-oriented task force, which has been meeting since last summer. It has brought together local business leaders and key nonprofit organizations to address the systemic barriers to economic opportunity in Contra Costa County that COVID-19 has amplified. The countywide task force is working to align efforts; track and guide actions to support job creation in the public and private sector; identify and promote policies to retain local employers; and expand connections to training and employment for those disproportionately impacted by recent layoffs.
The task force includes five working groups focused on:
- Expanding and supporting the local workforce in the healthcare industry, a growing part of Contra Costa’s economy and an industry with high-wage jobs.
- Developing recommendations for how to spend the 20-year, ½-cent sales tax Contra Costa voters approved in November for the the public hospital, public safety and other county services.
- Expanding broadband access to all to ensure families have access to the high-speed Internet they need for school and work and for healthcare through telehealth.
- Supporting the county’s industrial base by working to attract businesses to the county, which is the second most industrial county in California.
- Making it easier for businesses to hire displaced workers through federal wage subsidies, exploring ways in which public agencies may potentially assume some of the risk and investment that comes with the use of federal pass-through dollars.
The work groups are guided by existing models and programs, drawing on best practices of others to shape recommendations for local solutions. Ultimately, Connelly said, the task force is working to inspire action by businesses and other stakeholders.
“It’s one thing to know that this crisis has hit low-wage and minority workers the hardest and another to do something about it,” said Connelly. “We are committed to helping those affected the most find a path back to work and a career ladder for the future.”
Learn more about the task force, its upcoming digital events and how you can get involved!
Bay Area Workforce Community Solutions – Increasing Racial Equity Across the Bay Area
Five workforce development agencies, including the WDBCCC, have come together to increase racial equity across the Bay Area. Through a project called Workforce Community Solutions, which was funded by a grant from the California Workforce Development Board’s Workforce Accelerator Fund, the agencies have hosted four online events focused on shifting the equity conversation as it relates to workforce development.
The events focused on:
- Digging Deeper: Redefining Equity in the Time of Health, Economic & Racial Pandemics (stream here)
- Equity in Practice (stream here)
- From Equity to Emancipation: Moving Toward Liberatory Economic Advancement (stream here)
- System Action: Getting Started and Moving Equity Forward (stream here)
Workforce Community Solutions offers opportunities for workforce, education, asset development, justice, community-based organizations, businesses, philanthropy/government and their partners to identify strategies to close the racial and gender income and wealth gaps for the most vulnerable community members within San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The other core planning team members are Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), Pathways Consultants, San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) and Oakland Department of Violence Prevention.
Initially, the project’s focus was on breaking down workforce system silos to increase economic equity across the three-county region, explained Kim Coulthurst, Partner and Co-founder of Pathways Consulting. The project leveraged the timing of the triple pandemic and resulting awareness of the disproportionate impact the coronavirus had on the Black and Latinx communities and police violence against the Black community to talk more openly and directly about racial inequities in workforce development.
There were more than 430 participants across the four events, and they opened up in ways Ruth Barajas, Director of Workforce & Education Programs at BACR, had not seen before.
“The people who have been in the conversations have been pleasantly surprised about the openness folks have around race and equity in a way that we haven’t seen in these circles before,” Barajas said.
Barajas encourages system leaders to get involved and familiarize themselves with the equity work being done by their counterparts in the region. Coulthurst adds that the workforce system is changing, and workforce leaders must also work to change systems that are harming people.
“If we’re not addressing them, talking about them, building something different, we are doing harm, and we have a responsibility to communities to not continue to do harm and to continue to uplift folks and empower folks that we work with to achieve what they want to achieve,” Coulthurst said.
CCCEAC Helps Businesses Manage Constantly Changing Workforce
“We make sure the information is for the employers in our county, so they stay up-to-date with what is the new hot topic that could potentially create a struggle for them,” said Katherine Helms, CCCEAC chair. “It is a revolving door, especially with COVID. Everything is changing on the fly all the time.”
CCCEAC serves primarily small- to mid-sized businesses. It partners with WDBCCC to provide technical and legal compliance information to its members. CCCEAC also serves employers by notifying them about pending legislation that may impact them; providing employer representation on state-level panels, boards, and advisory groups; and providing to all employers low-cost, timely seminars on topics such as employment law, workforce development, human resources practices and professional development, among other services.
While the organization has had to adjust by moving its offerings online due to COVID-19, it continues to provide the critical information businesses need and has added content specific to navigating the pandemic. For example, one of the December virtual seminar topics will be about the power of resilience and cultivating healthy leaders and a healthy team.
“When you’re living at work because you are working from home, and the boundaries are less clear between life and work, this is an important talk that maybe we wouldn’t have had in the past, but it seems really relevant now,” Helms said.
CCCEAC is a chapter of the California Employer Advisory Council.
East Bay EDA a Resource for Creating Resilient Regional Ecosystem
When the coronavirus hit in March, Stephen Baiter, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and his team were preparing for their biggest event of the year, the East Bay Innovation Awards.
They had to shelve the event.
“We pivoted very quickly as the magnitude of the impacts around the region started to become clear,” said Baiter, whose organization provides forums and networking opportunities for businesses to share promising practices, resources and tools.
East Bay EDA, with more than 150 members, is a cross-sector, public-private partnership that promotes strategic economic development throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. With COVID-19 affecting businesses, the organization quickly convened regional partners, including its business and city members, to better understand how things were playing out on the ground level. In a three-week period, they generated nearly 2,000 responses to a business recovery survey to gather crucial information about how the virus was impacting local businesses.
Since then, East Bay EDA has been organizing a response to the small-business community, which has been the hardest-hit by the pandemic. On June 23, the organization hosted a webinar focused on best practices for reopening restaurants and bars. (Watch video recording) They will also be following up and having focused conversations with business sectors that have been impacted the greatest by the pandemic.
East Bay EDA is working to provide data and insights to help identify those industry sectors that have resiliency in the midst of the pandemic challenges – information that can be used to shape solutions.
“We’re really a regional resource that works across different industry sectors to proactively look at solutions to create and sustain a more resilient regional economy,” Baiter said. “We’re here with a lot of real-time information and data about what’s happening on the ground and are working with many different stakeholders to think about ways in which to respond to our challenges and find new solutions. We want others to join our network and be a part of the efforts we’re undertaking to help shape and position our region for greater resilience and success.”
Rubicon Programs Goes Virtual to Continue Serving Jobseekers
When California announced its stay-home order in March, one of Rubicon Programs’ biggest priorities was figuring out how to continue helping jobseekers in the two counties it serves, Contra Costa and Alameda. With the increasing number of people losing their jobs or being furloughed, the need for its services would be even greater.
Monique Brown, director of Workforce Services for Rubicon Programs, said the organization’s leaders met within a week of the stay-home order and developed a strategy to roll out virtual services for jobseekers, including those already using services and for newcomers.
Rubicon turned to its website, social channels, emails and other communications tools to let program participants and the general public know they were still open for business. They also launched a “warm line” monitored by team members who answered questions for people who had been laid off or furloughed, as well as businesses trying to understand new legislation and federal relief funds.
“We not only provided information for Rubicon services, but we were able to share partner information,” Brown said. “We were acting as a triage of sorts in this panic moment, when a lot of people were trying to figure out where they could go.”
Rubicon also created live virtual workshops covering topics such as how to conduct a job search while sheltering in place. The workshops were open to the general public, not only residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties. Rubicon team members ran the workshops, which were promoted on the Rubicon website, Facebook and Instagram to reach as many people as possible. The organization also is working with WDBCCC to host video tutorials on the bouncebackcontracosta.org website.
In addition, Rubicon held a virtual job fair that drew 86 residents and eight employers.
Brown said one the most important messages for jobseekers right now is that they are not alone, even though they may be bound to their homes for the time being.
“Although we are socially isolating ourselves, we are still here and available to help,” Brown said of the organization’s message to those it serves. “We’re here to help families bounce back from this pandemic challenge that we’re all facing. We want to make sure resources are accessible so anyone who needs it can bounce back.”