Job seekers flock to the West Oakland Job Resource Center (WOJRC) each month, seeking work to support themselves and their families.
They attend monthly orientations and are met with a list of requirements for apprenticeship programs throughout the Bay Area.
Started in March with funding from the City of Oakland, the resource center was designed to connect job seekers with contractors working on the Oakland Army Base project seeking to meet local hire requirements.
However, when the start of the development project took longer than expected, staff at the job center pulled from other sources to give the men and women that come through their doors a way to find work.
“We narrowed our focus to construction and expanded our approach, really looking at how to move people into the trade apprenticeship programs,” said Susie Suafai, Program Manager at WOJRC.
The center’s staff has encouraged job seekers to pursue positions that can lead to long-term careers like construction, carpentry, engineering, and other skilled trades. Most of these jobs require applicants to first complete an apprenticeship and join a union to be eligible to work.
Basic requirements for job seekers are to be 18 years or older, provide proof of legal eligibility to work in the U.S., proof of Oakland residency for six months, preferably a high school diploma or GED, to pass a drug test, have a valid California Driver’s License and access to reliable transportation.
Yet, there serious obstacles for many job seekers,who are unemployed and looking for a steady income. Without work, they often do not have the cars or money to travel long distances to and from work sites, and they are unable to buy work tools and other equipment, or to pay the upfront union fees.
The process can be discouraging for those who are trying to get in the door.
“When they find out the process that it takes to become qualified, we don’t see a lot of them [come back],” said Suafai.
“They just want a job, and they need it yesterday.”
The job center will have an electrician apprenticeship workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at the West Oakland library, 1801 Adeline St., 2nd floor in Oakland. A representative from the apprenticeship program will be presenting.
The minimum requirements for this apprenticeship include: be at least 18 years old, have graduated from high school or have a GED, have a valid driver’s license, and have successfully completed high school algebra.
To reserve a space for this workshop, call WOJRC at (510) 419-0509.