City Heights residents don’t have far to go to get help to find a job or vocational training. Two publicly-funded institutions in the community — the San Diego Workforce Partnership and San Diego Continuing Education (an arm of the San Diego Community College District) — provide a wide range of free programs and classes to assist the jobless and underemployed.
These organizations offer everything from job boards and resume critiques to job training and vocational English-as-a-second-language classes.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership Metro Career Center
3910 University Ave., Suite 300
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
The Metro Career Center is one of a dozen one-stop employment resource centers funded by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, a public benefit corporation established by the city and county of San Diego.
Located on the third floor of a modern office building, the Metro Career Center specializes in career counseling, job search assistance, referrals to education and job training programs, employment-related workshops, and much more. Workshops cover basics, such as resume writing, job interview tips, labor market trends, and business networking using social media.
One of the center’s most popular amenities is its computer lab. Job seekers can use the computers for up to two hours at a time. They also have access to fax machines, telephones, and copiers.
“This is my office,” said City Heights resident Richard Trepsas who has been taking advantage of the computer lab and other resources at the Career Center. He described the atmosphere as “very friendly” and “family-like.”
Besides a staff of 15, the center hosts representatives from the California Employment Development Department who answer questions about unemployment insurance claims and provide services specifically for veterans.
The center has a business services team dedicated to reaching out to employers to create paid job training opportunities in fields such as information technology, health care, office administration, and food services. Those who are matched with employers typically receive about three months of on-the-job training. Afterwards, employers are required to put the trainees through a 90-day probation period for a job.
The center’s staff also helps connect clients to government-funded vocational training programs. Those who are eligible can receive up to $5,000 to pay for short-term programs to get them into new careers. A few examples include careers as dental assistants, pharmacy technicians and paralegals.
While the center has an open-door policy, clients must register as members to access most of the services. Registration requires proof of a right to work, such as a green card or a social security card, as well as paperwork showing date of birth and employment status.
Mid-City Campus of San Diego Continuing Education
3792 Fairmount Ave.
For immigrants and refugees struggling to find a job because they speak little or no English, San Diego Continuing Education’s Mid-City Campus is a good place to get their footing. The 58,000 square-foot facility, which serves students from 144 countries, is designated as a campus of excellence for ESL, or English as a second language.
After completing basic ESL classes, students can move on to VESL, or vocational ESL courses that focus on terminology for specific fields, such as home daycare, retailing, cosmetology, food service, auto mechanics, business information technology, and nurse assistant. Assessment is required prior to placement in VESL.
“The VESL program prepares non-native speakers of English to enter vocational programs or entry-level jobs. Classes emphasize work-related oral and written communication skills, and basic computer skills,” said Ranessa Ashton, public information officer for San Diego Continuing Education.
For students who don’t have to overcome a language barrier, there are two job training certificate programs they can take advantage of right away through the Mid-City Campus. One is for office skills and the other for electronic assembly.
The office skills certificate program trains students to become account clerks, front desk/office assistants, and administrative assistants. Students in this program come to open labs and learn at their own pace to master software programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The labs are staffed by instructors. Depending on which office skills a student chooses to study, the program requires anywhere from 314 hours to 516 hours.
Those interested in the program simply visit the lab at a time that is convenient for them and let the instructor know they want to register. For the spring semester beginning Feb. 1, the open computer lab runs 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday in Room 307.
The Mid-City Campus also offers a basic electronics certificate program but classes are held off-site at 5348 University Ave. This program teaches the fundamentals of AC/DC electronics, electronic devices, digital technology, and basic communications electronics. Those who complete the 900-hour, 40-week program can qualify for jobs as electronic assembler or technician.
The Mid-City location belongs to a network of 10 San Diego Continuing Education campuses operated by the San Diego Community College District. There are no restrictions as to which campus students may enroll in for classes.