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New collaboration serves job seekers, businesses

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Local job seekers and employers can look to some new support services with the launch of Golden Sierra Business Connections. The collaborative effort between the California Employers Association and the Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board includes a human resources hotline, business assistance workshops and a networking forum for unemployed professionals. Golden Sierra is funding the 18-month programs for Placer, El Dorado and Alpine counties through a $210,000 federal stimulus grant, according to Kim Parker, executive vice president of the California Employers Association. The networking forum, called ProNet, met for the first time last week in Auburn and Roseville. And program manager Daniela Devitt was overwhelmed with the response. “My rooms overflowed,” she said. ProNet is free to professionals who are seeking jobs, but that’s not all “It is a confidential environment,” Devitt said. “They’re among peers with similar status and situation. We want to provide them with resources, skills and opportunities.” Meetings are scheduled weekly at the Connections centers. “We’re going to take them out on field trips,” she said. “They’ll be visiting employers on site. They’ll get an opportunity to know them a little better.” Devitt is also inviting area employers to speak at the sessions and there’ll be workshops to help participants with job-search skills. “We’re trying new and innovative techniques to get their voices heard,” Devitt said. “Right now, every employer that has an opening gets thousands of resumés. No one knows the criteria they use (for hiring). Very talented people aren’t being seen and heard. We’re attempting to give them a voice.” For Jason Buckingham, executive director of the Workforce Investment Board, assisting job seekers is a top priority. “A large portion of displaced workers in our region have professional backgrounds and the goal of these networking forums is to provide them with the resources and coaching they need to re-enter the workforce,” Buckingham said in a press release. The business hotline puts small businesses in touch with human resources consultants who will answer questions and provide advice. It’s a service that normally would cost $750 annually, Parker said. “Most (small businesses) don’t have a human resources manager and don’t have money to pay an attorney,” she said. “We’re providing a free resource to help them understand (employment) laws.” California Employers Association experts will also help businesses solve employee-related issues in the areas of compliance, recruitment, retention, safety, training and organizational development. “At the end of the 18 months, (we’re hoping) employers will find it is a good thing and will join as a member after that,” Parker said. Golden Sierra and the California Employers Association have set goals for the project. “We’re hoping to get 120 people employed — minimum — through ProNet and looking to serve 22,000 people in the three counties through the hotline,” Parker said. The third part of the program, the business-assistance workshops, will be focused on human resources issues and labor law compliance. Each session will cost $25 per person. The Auburn sessions will be April 29 on wage and hour laws, Sept. 30 on employee handbooks and Feb. 24, 2011 on labor law update. Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------- HR hotline for small businesses Call: (800) 399-5331 Available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday ProNet – Meets 8:45 to 10:15 a.m. Wednesdays at the Auburn Connections Center and 8:15 to 9:45 a.m. Thursdays at the Roseville center Web site: connectioncenters.com