Help on the way

Help on the way

Programs to train and retrain those out of work

By Carl Kozlowski 02/27/2014

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Life is tough for plenty of Americans these days, with the nation’s economy still mired in a slow recovery from the worst recession in 70 years. Four million people nationwide are considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been out of work for six months or longer. 

But if you’re feeling frustrated, help is on the way.

President Obama just convinced dozens of America’s biggest companies to redouble efforts to hire the long-term unemployed. The president has also ordered government agencies and contractors to make long-termers a priority in hiring. 

In Pasadena, there are numerous resources available to get the training, or retraining needed to succeed in the job market.  

The Foothill Employment and Training Connection (FETC) One-Stop Career Center, located at 1207 E. Green St. in Pasadena, is operated jointly by the city’s Career Services Division and the state of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), designed to help residents in the cities of Arcadia, Duarte, Monrovia, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and the unincorporated community of Altadena. 

“This is a training resource in Pasadena, for any walk of life,” says Joumana Barrakat of the Foothill Workforce Investment Board, which runs the center and helps between 2,000 and 3,500 people each month. 
“We teach social media marketing and branding for individuals, plus how to do interviews and resumes. And we have case workers who work one on one with clients and job developers who work with employers to keep an eye on the Southern California hiring status so we can refer,” Barrakat said.

“We have recruitments through the center and job fairs several times a year, so we’re a very busy center,” she said.

Indeed, the FETC has so many programs to offer that they’ve broken them down into tiers.

Core Services caters to the self-directed and includes use of computers, printers, the Internet, copiers, telephones and fax machines for job search-related activities. Workshops on enhancing computer and job-search skills are also available to anyone seeking them at this level. 

Meanwhile, Intensive Services are available to eligible individuals who have met with a job counselor and those who have not been able to find work via Core Services. This includes working with a case manager, assessment of skills and interests, and participation in extra workshops available only to those in this program. Limited financial assistance may be available for those who need basic necessities, including child care, transportation, clothing, tools and uniforms. 

Beyond that, Training Services enables eligible individuals to attend approved vocational and professional trade schools, with training in an occupation that is determined to be in-demand in the local Workforce Investment Area. They can also help arrange for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds to pay up to 50 percent of the employee’s wages during a specified training period. 

Those seeking a boost beyond the FETC, or as a change of pace, can head to Women at Work’s center for advanced computer classes, networking sessions, employer forums and a job club that regularly notifies participants of an average of 200 available jobs in the Pasadena area. Located at 3871 E. Colorado Blvd., their phone number is (626) 796-6870, or visit 

“There are jobs out there and you have to strategize to know how to get one,” says Barrakat.  “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. People need to diversify their skills among different industries and occupations. This is one thing we help people with: finding industries they can transfer their skills to.”


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