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Many were shocked by the news following the beginning of quarantine; come home from work, wear a mask and stay inside unless you’re gathering the essentials. After nearly seven months of closures, we are slowly but surely seeing many businesses reopen once again, looking to replenish their fallen workforce. As unemployment rates reach an all time high in the state of California, the City of Santa Monica has created a one-stop resource for residents to assist in their next career change, including unemployment resources, hosting virtual employment webinars, and providing links to job preparedness organizations.

After Governor Gavin Newsom initiated the state’s Stay at Home Order on March 19, many businesses were forced to shut their doors, subsequently sending home their workers and driving unemployment rates up. The State of California reached a record high for unemployment at 16.4% in May, compared to just 4% in June of 2019 according to the Employment Development Department. As regulations continue to relax, so do the numbers due to more industries reopening their doors and hiring staff back, causing a steady decline in the unemployment rate. Many people are itching to get back to work and provide for themselves and their loved ones again, but it can be difficult navigating the new job market.

The City of Santa Monica has created a one-stop resource concerning all things employment related. All you have to do is access santamonica.gov and hover your mouse over “Economic Recovery” and click on “Employment Resources” for a full list of helpful resources including free webinars, employment prep and career training resources.

This past summer, Santa Monica launched the Entrepreneur Series, a collection of six workshops designed to assist those curious about starting their own business. Former entrepreneur and Santa Monica business owner Kathleen Benjamin moderated the event which she says was a “101, how to start a business.” Benjamin says that when she started her own business, she had to figure it out on her own, which can be complex and confusing for new entrepreneurs. She said the series was meant to help local entrepreneurs navigate their ventures in a collaborative setting.

The workshop was a hit, covering topics ranging from what it takes to start your own business, how to form a business plan and understanding how to properly execute your ideas and make it a reality. Local experts were invited to speak, including Paul Helmy of Matthew Edward Cavanaugh, a mortgage company, Kera Blades of Blades & Associates and many more. Community Service Program Coordinator and organizer of the series, Michael Jackson, says that they are contemplating having a second series sometime after the New Year, but is happy that he was able to “be able to help people walk through finding their skillset.”

Due to the success of the virtual series, City of Santa Monica’s Economic Development Task Force, which leads the city’s accelerated economic recovery, saw it fit to introduce the Ready to Work Webinar on September 23: a two-hour, free webinar hosted by local employment agencies over Zoom, to assist with job search, employment prep, career training and career change efforts. The team partnered with local agencies, including JVS WorkSource, Hospitality Training Academy, Chrysalis, Santa Monica College – Noncredit Initiatives, SMMUSD Adult Education Center, and Santa Monica Public Library to assist community members in their search for their new career. The webinar discussed the fundamentals of the hiring process and seeks to match residents seeking work with local opportunities through these hiring and training development agencies. The Spanish language version of the webinar was presented on September 30. Both webinars were recorded and are available on the Job Resources webpage. This is all part of a bigger priority, initiated by the Economic Recovery Task Force to drive businesses to hire locally.

One participating agency is JVS WorkSource, a great destination for low-income residents and youths to generate useful skills needed to find employment, such as career assessment, coaching and training. The agency provides free employment and training services funded by Federal, state and local and private grants “to get people jobs” says Deputy Director of JVS SoCal, Katherine MaKinney. Founded in the midst of the Great Depression, JVS SoCal utilizes federal, state and private grants to support their mission by providing free career assessment tests, career coaching and training which will give those most in need a platform to search for their new job or career. Although the workforce looks different during this time, MaKinney says that “there are plenty of jobs” out there and that “personal ambition and determination is key.”

For many industries in the field, a college degree or some level of training is required for employment, but an old dog can absolutely learn new tricks, especially when the community is cheering you on. Santa Monica College has a great catalog of free, non-credit initiatives “designed to help folks who have barriers to employment” and help “transition into college or want to transition into a career” according to Project Manager of the non-credit initiative program, Ashley Mejia. The non-credit initiatives do not replace a degree, nor does it offer credit towards one, but they do offer valuable skills needed to help you enter the workforce and are “a no-risk option” for many people, says Mejia.

There are resources in multiple languages, SMC offers an English as a Second Language (ESL) course that supports students with reading, writing, and speaking English. Additionally, the course prepares interested noncitizens for the USCIS citizenship exam, oral interview, and offers help with the N-400 application. Other workshops include free computer basics courses that teach you the basics of Microsoft Office programs, free early care and education classes for those wanting to work with young children in child care and education, as well as courses in sustainability, healthcare and business. The flexible courses allow you to explore options for your education without the burden of worrying about grades, financial aid or degree progress, while still giving you the tools necessary to learn the basics of your desired industry. Once you complete the course, Mejia says that they refer their students to JVS SoCal for further assistance in career coaching, training and to help place them in their desired industry.

Santa Monica’s hospitality industry provided robust employment and tax revenues over the last few years however, travel employers and workers have been by far the hardest hit of any U.S. industry by the effects of COVID-19, causing a temporary halt to the travel industry. As we carry on further into 2020, travel and tourism is slowly but steadily increasing and many Santa Monica hotels, restaurants and other “must-see and -do” businesses within the destination are looking to hire once again.

Now that you have mastered your skills, it’s time to put them to the test and start the application process. To assist you in your search, the Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) has compiled a docket of information with links to professional job listing sights, ways to research possible careers and companies, as well as resources to help improve your resume and cover letter, which can be found under the “employment resources” tab on santamonica.gov. Anyone with their own Santa Monica Library Card can also access the Brainfuse Adult Learning Center where they offer “live guidance on various subjects at basic, intermediate, and advanced levels, tips on using software like Microsoft Office, and even citizenship test preparation and guidance” according to SMPL Youth and Family Services Coordinator, Lenore St. John. You can also access Brainfuse’s JobNow platform meant to provide additional resources and career tools for Veterans. With the proper tools in your back-pocket, there will be no stopping you on your career search.

As businesses open their doors and the economy begins to restart, dedicated workers will become the backbone of the COVID-19 economic recovery effort set out nation-wide. Whether you lost your job at the beginning of all this, or it gave you the push you needed to start your dream career, the City of Santa Monica will lend their services to you and provide the community support needed to overcome this moment in time. Stay informed of the latest employment resources at santamonica.gov/economicrecovery/jobresourcesupdates.