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One Stop Career Centers: A Community Resource

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by James HillWendy Murray is all smiles.Want to know how much a One Stop Career Center means to the community it serves?Just ask Wendy Murray, who at 26 years of age has found the career of her dreams as a dialysis technician with Renal Care Group, a specialized provider of services to patients with kidney disease. She owes this success to her one year of utilizing the services at the Metro One Stop at PCC’s Portland Metro Workforce Training Center.

“If I hadn’t had the One Stop, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today,”said Murray. “To be able to learn things from the career specialists to develop my skills really assisted me in how to look for a job – like how to use the Web, post my resume and set up an email address. Since going to One Stop, companies were wanting to interview me, where beforehand they haven’t.”What is a One Stop? It is a career center that is a single point of contact for prospective employees who have been dislocated or who are finding it hard to get a job. It also serves as a prime locale for employers to recruit these workers and to post job openings. It includes such services as an assessment of basic skills of individuals, an analysis of particular job skills, offering of English as a second language instruction, and more. It’s not just a PCC affair.

The college partners with many organizations in order to administer the One Stops, including the Oregon Human Development Corporation (employment services for Latinos), Housing Authority of Oregon, Albina Ministerial Alliance, Senior Mobility Services, Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement, the Oregon Employment Department, Adult and Family Services (a state agency that provides public assistance), Dislocated Worker’s Project and Steps to Success.Earlier this year, the college received a $790,000 grant from worksystems, inc., to provide additional One Stop training services to the community of Northeast Portland. PCC now oversees the services of four locations in the Portland metro area through contracts with worksystems, inc., including the Northeast One Stop Career Center; Goal Post, a social service training outlet and community center at Columbia Villa in North Portland; the Metro One Stop at PCC’s Portland Metro Workforce Training Center on 42nd Ave.; and the PCC Washington County One Stop at the CAPITAL Center in Aloha.Before developing skills at the One Stop, Murray had been working odd jobs as a medical assistant for a temporary agency. She worked only a couple times a week, and could never find regular employment because of her lack of experience. After graduating from Grant High School, she went to PCC to work toward an associate’s degree before attending Concorde Career Institute in its medical assisting program. Now, she plans to get her nursing degree from Oregon Health Sciences University after completing her degree at PCC.Last year, Murray met Shan Weggeland, a PCC career specialist at the Metro One Stop who helped Murray with her resume writing and interview skills.

“Wendy was a regular fixture at the center, working on skills and tweaking her resume,”Weggeland said. “Helping people like Wendy train for a career and get the job they want is the most rewarding part of my job,”she said. “After all, we’re here to help people get back to work. Wendy drastically improved her situation. She’s happy and that’s the bottom line.”Employers seem sold on the One Stop system, as well. Joanna Childress, an employment recruiter with the communications company LiveBridge, said the one stops give her company’s two centers in Oregon a point of contact for potential employees.

LiveBridge operates 10 outlets in the U.S. and Canada, and usually recruits workers to do telephone marketing for their centers.”We have utilized one stops across the Portland area. They do fantastic things,”Childress said. “They are definitely advocates of learning and growing for people. They are helpful in that they allow us to reach candidates we’d otherwise miss.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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