Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 39

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 13th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 33

New dollars to fund more career services in underserved communities

By Taylor O'Connor

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board $2.5 million to help COVID-19 impacted workers get jobs. 

The funds will enable the board to purchase hardware and technology for nine new places for people to access career services, job training, and certificate courses, Development Board Analyst Julie Smedley said. 

“Historically our program provided job services and training services. We wanted to include digital literacy training in response to the big digital divide we saw happen during the pandemic,” she said. 

Smedley and her team help people who have criminal records, those with no work experience, and people with disabilities find employment. By implementing long-term rental systems, job seekers without internet gain access to more resources, Smedley said. 

“They can rent out laptops and hotspots to do Zoom meetings or Zoom interviews. They’ll have access to these tools and they will be able to rent these out as long as they need,” Smedly continued. 

Although this is one-time COVID-19 relief funding, the computers and hardware will have a long life and last the board a long time, and the equipment will be purchased before Christmas, Smedley said. 

The department is looking at access point locations in Carpinteria, Guadalupe, and Lompoc, which will open some time in January. 

“We have two main job centers, one in Santa Barbara and one in Santa Maria. You can imagine the families financially impacted from COVID-19 figuring out how to travel to Santa Barbara from Carpinteria or Guadalupe, or to Santa Maria from Lompoc,” she said “Creating these access points will have such an impact and make them aware of the services available through our programming.” 

Outreach can be a challenge because of language barriers in those communities, but Smedley hopes new community organization partnerships and contractors will help.  

“We really want to tap into partners already serving those communities and utilize their expertise, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” she said. 

As planning continues, residents are welcome to contact the development board with any of their questions or concerns. 

“We have such a wide variety of services; we’re able to provide job career training, and we have a great network of partners. If our agency can’t help residents with what their needs are, we can point them in the right direction,” Smedley said. 

People can contact the county Workforce Development Board at (805) 896-6835 or email Smedley at j.smedley@sbcsocialserv.org.

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