Sonoma County Job Link, SonomaWorks, others plan move to southwest building
[caption id="attachment_27457" align="alignright" width="360" caption="The Lakes Corporate Center (Photos courtesy of Cornish & Carey Newmark Knight Frank)"][/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- The county of Sonoma plans to consolidate its job-seeker services to one 46,300-square-foot office in southwest Santa Rosa next spring to handle a growing number of clients without work.
If approved by the county Board of Supervisors on Dec. 14, the consolidated office would bring together 120 employees in the Sonoma County Job Link and SonomaWorks programs from four separate buildings and about 40 people from partner firms such as mental-health counselors, the state Employment Development Department and service organizations such as Goodwill Industries and YWCA.
The move is planned for weekends between April and June 2011.
In the past two years, the caseload for the Sonoma County Job Link one-stop employment and training center increased 56 percent and the welfare-to-work SonomaWorks program, 17 percent, according to Karen Fies, director of the Employment and Training division of the county Human Services Department.
Citing the latest figures from August, Job Link served about 1,200 clients, and SonomaWorks 8,317, including care for 6,229 children. Most live in Roseland, which dictated where the division would finally settle, Ms. Fies said.
The growth in the caseload for both programs about doubled since the start of the housing market crisis in the county in mid-2006, according to the department.
"This will give us economies of scale and flexibility in the workload and allow us to share responsibilities in the same building," Ms. Fies said.
Some of the SonomaWorks staff members work at the county administration center five miles to the northwest of the division's administrative offices currently in another building in The Lakes because there wasn't room at the main office.
"They are more important than ever, and getting people back to work is more important than ever," said Ms. Fies about those two programs.
The jobless rate in Sonoma County has risen from 6.1 percent in August 2008 to 11.4 percent in March of this year and back to a still-high 9.7 percent in September, according to the latest state figures.
Among the Job Link umbrella of 30 programs serving employers, job seekers and employees, job-search coaching has become paramount because of the much different hiring environment from just a few years ago, according to Ms. Fies.
Rather than advertising jobs, a number of employers unsure about the course of the economy are hiring for various levels of jobs on a temporary basis then considering longer-term commitments later.
Because fewer jobs are posted, getting a job can be dependent on who you know, she said. To that end, a group of about 30 meet at the Job Link offices each Monday to network and trade job leads.
Job Link hasn't yet heard from the 450 Rohnert Park employees of State Farm Insurance given a choice of relocating to Bakersfield or leaving the company when the operations center closes in July 2011, but Ms. Fies suspects some will seek help on modern job-search strategies such as online professional networks.