Q&A: Yolo programs help the jobless, work to avert layoffs

Published: Monday, Sep. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Amanda Brown supervises Yolo County's Layoff Aversion and Rapid Response programs at the county's employment and social services department.

The programs, which operate out of Yolo County's One-Stop Career Centers in West Sacramento and Woodland, help employees facing layoffs get back on track with retraining, counseling and job search assistance. Last year, Brown said, the county's Rapid Response team reached out to more than 800 laid-off employees in Yolo County.

The programs also work with businesses to help owners keep their doors open and find alternatives to layoffs.

The Bee talked with Brown and Steve Roberts, a county employment services specialist, about the programs.

Talk about the Layoff Aversion program.

Brown: We provide services for employees when they are laid off or about to be laid off. In Layoff Aversion, we let (employees) know about what services they may be eligible for – job training or job search. We help them fill out job applications and have résumés made. We also conduct workshops on how to interview.

The Layoff Aversion program also works with businesses. How so?

Brown: If a layoff cannot be averted, having the Rapid Response and Layoff Aversion team go into a company as early as possible can help place workers in other jobs before they are laid off.

Having close ties with local economic development, cities' chambers (of commerce) and business owners is vital to finding out about business needs before jobs are in jeopardy or a business faces closure.

Roberts: We're kind of like firefighters. We look for businesses that are closing down or laying off – sometimes you get that information before the WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notice goes out – then put out that fire. We're ready when the time comes.

(The WARN Act requires large businesses to give early warning of layoffs and closures.)

One such businesses is Raley's, the supermarket chain. Raley's recently announced it plans to close its Bel Air supermarket in Woodland in October. Can you walk through how your program worked in this instance?

Brown: The WARN notice was sent out Aug. 17. We called Raley's corporate offices and told them we offer (employment) services.

Our Rapid Response went to the site. We got the city of Woodland involved, (state) Employment Development Department involved. We try to be prepared for whatever comes down the pipe. The whole idea is to avoid time on unemployment.

We can go onto a work site, arrange for a group presentation or a one-on-one at our shop. We'll provide them with information from the EDD to help them with their unemployment.

They could be eligible for California Training Benefits through the EDD. That allows unemployment benefits to continue, so they can concentrate on their education while collecting unemployment.

How important are the Layoff Aversion and Rapid Response programs to Yolo residents?

Brown: Very important. We're in a very small county. If you lose a company, it has a significant effect. Any services we can provide to let businesses stay and grow are very important.

What advice do you have for employees who are going through a layoff and want to seek your services?

Roberts: It's so much better, much more helpful to come into a One-Stop Center than to do it on your own. We have professionals who can share knowledge about how to search for jobs. We do assessments to find out your capabilities. We do what we can to make sure you get back into the mainstream. It makes a big difference in how you get your job and where you get your job.

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Read more articles by Darrell Smith



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