Sinaa Watkins, 43, is a single mother of two with a 19-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. Currently unemployed and living with her mother, Watkins says a job would allow her to get back on her feet.
“It’s all about supporting family for me,” said Watkins at a recent Job Club in Lennox. “If you’re out there and looking for employment, this is for you,” said Watkins.
The Job Club is a bimonthly job search workshop at the new Lennox Library and Constituent Service Center. Held in the Wiseburn Conference Room, the sessions are free to all community members. The program, powered by Community Career Development, Inc. and the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, offers opportunities for networking, job leads and interview techniques along with a sprinkle of hope. The workshop aims to help those who are underemployed, unemployed or starting in a new career by offering resources and employer referrals as well as job training opportunities.
“A just-trained candidate, is a just right candidate,” said Tony Jaramillo, Program Manager for Community Career Development, Inc., the non-profit, community-based organization that leads the workforce development training for jobseekers.
The unemployment rate in Los Angeles County currently hovers at 8.1 percent, exceeding the state average of 7.4 percent; it is nearly two full points above the national average of 6.2 percent according to the Employment Development Department.
The county lost 57,600 jobs in July, although 69,200 were added over the year with an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent. The jobless rate was down from 10 percent a year ago.
“Meaningful work is important because most folks are looking to sustain a living wage to raise the quality of their life here in Los Angeles,” Jaramillo said. “There is a gap in computer skills necessary to secure the higher wage jobs. There seems to be a divide between those that have the ability to be retrained and those that stand on their laurels,” Jaramillo said.
Curtis Blue, 47, from Los Angeles, is an information technology professional who has been unemployed for two years. He attended the job club for the first time to improve his interview skills and look for work.
Having been out of work for two years, Blue discussed the challenges of staying abreast of quickly changing technology.
“Technology is always changing, so not having the hands on experience is challenging. But I’ve learned that I’m not the only one struggling,” Blue said.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “Quality jobs are at the core of developing healthy communities. They improve the economy and help families function. It has been and will continue to be a priority for me to bring opportunities and to create a better quality of life for all residents of the Second District.”
The next Job Club is scheduled for 11 a.m. on September 11 in the Wiseburn Community Room at the Lennox Library and Constituent Service Center located at 4343 Lennox Blvd., Lennox, CA 90304.