People living throughout North County can access a free program to help gain skills and secure a guaranteed job interview with a local company. It’s meant to be especially helpful for anyone who’s been out of the workforce for a while or struggling with another barrier to gain employment.
The new North County Job-Readiness program was created to solve two challenges.
“We hear from employers that entry-level workers are hard to find, and we also hear from underserved communities that there are barriers to finding jobs,” said City of Carlsbad Economic Development Manager Matt Sanford. “The Job-Readiness Room is meant to provide a solution by bridging these two sides via employer-validated training programs offered through our libraries.”
California’s Employment Development Department reports that as of this April, San Diego County’s unemployment rate was 3.3%. Of the 1,599,200 residents in the labor force, 1,546,500 are employed and 52,700 are unemployed. San Diego County’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than neighboring Imperial County (14.1%) and Los Angeles County (4.5%) and just slightly higher than Orange County (3%). Statewide, the unemployment rate is 4.3%.
Sanford’s team in Carlsbad will work on the North County Job-Readiness program in partnership with Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, Vista, the local chambers of commerce and the San Diego North Economic Development Council.
“It’s a first-in-nation, new pilot program that uses labor market information from Lightcast – the largest labor market information company in the U.S., to identify where in-demand jobs are,” added Sanford. “It leverages an online course-catalog through Bendable, a library services company and provides access through libraries, as trusted resource centers in our communities.”
Through the program, jobseekers get 15 hours of self-guided online training on skills that are in-demand and span various industries. This includes several hours of soft skills and work-readiness training as well as 10 hours of industry-specific training.
“We know these skills are what employers are looking for because they are listed in a majority of industry job-postings,” Sanford explained. There are four different tracks that North County jobseekers can currently take – all of them in industries that are looking for entry-level employees. These include manufacturing, hospitality and food service, healthcare and office administration.
“As the pilot reaches scale, the number of industries could expand to a number of different industry clusters,” he added.
Jobseekers won’t pay a dime to participate in the program. Neither will employers.
Participating employers have all noted challenges with hiring and keeping entry-level workers. This program could deliver them an entirely new pool of talented potential employees.
More than 35 North County employers looking for workers have signed up for the pilot program including Bitchin’ Sauce, HM Electronics, Hughes Circuits and Grand Pacific Resorts.
After completing the program, participants get help in securing an interview with a participating employer. “This ensures there is value at both ends of the spectrum,” said Sanford.
They’re also awarded with a so-called microcredential – a short, focused certification that validates proficiency in a specific skill or set of skills.
“They are often offered by higher education or online learning platforms and provide a flexible way to upskill or reskill without having to invest in a full degree program. Microcredentials are increasingly becoming an important part of education and skills attainment,” he explained.
Participants can also sign up to be paired with a learning success coach who will help support them along the way through calls, emails or texts.
The program is live online and accepting new participants.
The City of Carlsbad is hoping to go to a full-scale implementation this summer in North County or in the San Diego region, as a whole.
“We see this as an economic development and workforce development resource that supports out community and we encourage participation,” said Sanford.
City of Carlsbad
MAYOR: Keith Blackburn
EMPLOYEES: 988 full-time employees
CITY WEBSITE: carlsbadca.gov
JOB PROGRAM: northcounty.jobreadinessroom.com
NOTABLE: The City of Carlsbad has 115,000 residents and is second largest economy in San Diego County with a GRP of $15.8B.