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Davis, California

Monday, March 4, 2024

Yolo County’s YoloWorks! launches new virtual employment center

Efforts to provide opportunities for job seekers continue in Yolo County with an emphasis on accessibility and diversity

By YAN YAN HUSTIS HAYES city@theaggie.org

On Nov. 16, YoloWorks! launched its first virtual career center platform. The Virtual Employment Center allows Yolo County residents to virtually receive career and vocational training services from case managers and employment specialists. 

YoloWorks! Program Coordinator Erica Johnson said that the Virtual Employment Center is very similar to an in-person experience because it offers many of the same services. 

“We’ve been working on our virtual employment center for about a year now and it’s essentially like an employment center on the go,” Johnson said. “Individuals have the ability to set up virtual appointments with us where we can assist them with resume development, reviewing their resume, mock interviews, job application assistance and career advice.” 

The Virtual Employment Center is part of YoloWorks!’s broader mission of connecting job seekers with employers. The virtual aspect of the employment center makes it easy for job seekers to connect with YoloWorks! resources, according to Johnson. 

“[YoloWorks!] is a collaborative community effort to work with job seekers to address needs that they have and to also work with businesses to address their needs,” Johnson said. “An individual can go to our website and the first thing that pops up is our Virtual Employment Center. It’s an easy set up.” 

Since YoloWorks! offers so many programs, the exact number of customers and job seekers that it has reached with its programs is difficult to determine exactly because the numbers change depending on the program, said Johnson. 

“We just launched our Virtual Employment Center last Tuesday and in just over [two weeks] we’ve had about 20 appointments set up,” Johnson said. “The numbers vary quite a bit. It’s just based on the service and if someone is interested.” 

YoloWorks! serves a wide range of job seekers with an equally wide range of opportunities, according to Johnson. 

“It’s folks who’ve been unemployed, underemployed or individuals who are seeking different opportunities,” Johnson said. “We have individuals from entry level to individuals who are skilled. We host [a lot] of positions when we advertise for employers in the community.” 

In addition to its Virtual Employment Center, YoloWorks! has hosted in-person career pathway job fairs with the state with upwards of 1,900 registrations and more locally focused ones with around 300 registrations. Johnson said that because of the pandemic, services like these have experienced an increase in need, both from local employers and local job seekers. 

“This is a time for reinvention for a lot of job seekers so what we are seeing now is a lot of folks, who may not have accessed our services before, access our services,” Johnson said. “A lot of our employers in the area are hurting, whether they are looking for entry-level or skilled workers, just because there is a labor shortage — not just here in Yolo but throughout the country.”  

While local workers are reaching out to services like YoloWorks! more frequently, local employers also remain committed to facilitating education, training and career path opportunities. During a virtual job talk hosted by UC Davis in partnership with YoloWorks! on June 29, UC Davis Leadership and Recruitment and Diversity Services Senior Talent Acquisition Partner Ellen Jordan told prospective applicants how to move through the application process.  

“[We’re here] to help you start your career at UC Davis or UC Davis Health,” Jordan said. “Our team came into existence about a year and a half ago and we provide executive recruitment level services.” 

Manager of the UC Davis Leadership and Diversity Services office and member of Yolo County’s Workforce Innovation Board Lyndon Huling said that as an employer, ensuring that local talent and community members get work is an important part of supporting the local economy.

“We do a lot of work in the community; the focus there is specifically on local outreach — contacting prospective job seekers around the university and the medical center to ensure that they can put their best foot forward,” Huling said. “Just making the application process as simple as possible is important to recognize in order to give everyone a fair opportunity for roles.” 

For employers and members of industry like UC Davis, building relationships with YoloWorks! and organizations like it helps foster ties within the community and open up opportunities to more local job seekers, according to Huling. 

“We spend a lot of time making sure that we are spreading the word about opportunities when they come up — we do a lot of work sending out job vacancies to the folks who lead community-based organizations to make sure that they know when we’re recruiting,” Huling said. “[It’s] really important to figur[e] out how we can make our resources visible and available to as many people as possible.” 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many outreach events have pivoted to online and virtual spaces. While this can create some challenges regarding broadband accessibility, virtual outreach has allowed employers and programs like the Virtual Employment Center cast a much wider net, said Huling.
“We work with community partners to make sure that we’re announcing opportunities with enough time for job seekers to secure access to workstations or smartphones,” Huling said. “The lesson that we’ve learned is that we need to do both [online and in-person outreach]. It’s really shifted the paradigm over how we reach and engage with prospective job seekers.” 

Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org


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