Workforce Development Board Gets Spotlight at ‘ShopTalk’

Joumana “J.B.” Barakat, business liaison at Foothill Workforce Development Board, explains her board’s work to the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce’s monthly ShopTalk breakfast at Mike & Anne’s Restaurant, Sept. 3. Photo by Skye Hannah

The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce highlighted the Foothill Workforce Development Board (FWDB) and its work in strengthening the local economy during the monthly “ShopTalk’’ at Mike & Anne’s Restaurant on Sept. 3. The featured speaker was the board’s business liaison, Joumana “JB” Barakat.

Based in Pasadena at 1207 E. Green St., the FWDB operates in South Pasadena, Arcadia, Duarte Monrovia, Sierra Madre and Pasadena. As one of seven workforce development boards in Southern California, FWDB serves businesses and jobseekers by running federally funded programs that connect those with the right skills for the job. In a continually evolving employment climate, the board looks ahead to what the workforce will need in the future and works to train and match their skills well with employers.

“We are working on building a workforce that meets the employers’ needs,” said Barakat.

The FWDB runs no-cost job fairs, provides targeted employment and provides recruitment strategies. For businesses, Barakat said the FWDB will consult with them, at no charge, to find what the needs of the business are with employment and take down details of the skills needed.

“We focus on where you are in the business cycle at this point and then we cater the services to you,” said Barakat.

With the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), federal legislation that primarily assists job seekers in obtaining employment, money is allocated to the state to give a boost to those looking to secure meaningful employment.

“We open our doors for individuals who have lost their jobs and who are looking for upward mobility,” said Barakat.

For those who have lost their jobs and need an upgrade in training for skills, the FWDB runs programs in which they will help pay for certificates to get people back into the labor force.

If a business is downsizing, Barakat encouraged the owners to reach out and let them know. Instead of hiring a company that charges to consult with the employees who are being let go, the FWDB will provide the services at no cost to the business.

“Instead of just giving these people their pink slip and putting them out there and they don’t know what to do next, we come in and we offer transition services,” said Barakat. “We help them with their job search, we bring in people from the Department of Labor to talk to them about their health care benefits, we bring in financial advisers.”

The FWDB also has funds to assist businesses, in particular small businesses, with on-the-job training for full-time new hires when they decide to give them a place. In some instances, the FWDB will pay 50 percent of the salary through the training. If a recruitment does not work out, the business will not have to refund anything to the board.

In South Pasadena, the FWDB developed a program for hiring special-needs individuals at the Almansor Center, which provides services for those with disabilities ages 3-22. They’ve also worked with the Door of Hope, a family homeless facility, to help secure employment for people. In addition, the FWDB has many initiatives and incentives for veterans seeking employment.

“There are focus areas that we in South Pas, even though we’re a smaller city, do get a lot of help and support from the [FWDB],” added City Council Member Bob Joe at the meeting.

Barakat shared that the FWDB ultimately works to support everyone and everything in the community.

“My goal in life is to empower and enrich other people’s lives,” said Barakat.

For more information on the Foothill Workforce Development Board, visit fwbworks.org or contact Joumana Barakat at jbarakat@foothilletc.org or (626) 584-8387.

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