Adult Education Partnership for Career Pathway Programs
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is designed to help job seekers who experience barriers accessing education, training, employment and support services to succeed in the labor market. In 2016-17, the Los Angeles Unified School District Division of Adult and Career Education (LAUSD DACE) and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) launched a partnership to co-locate WIOA Navigators at 10 DACE Schools and 12 City of L.A. WorkSource Centers. These positions are co-funded by DACE and EWDD and co-located to assist high-barrier WorkSource Center clients enroll in and complete career pathway programs at DACE schools.
In classic L.A. Compact style, EWDD and DACE invested significant face-time in building a solid relationship before hammering out a work plan or implementing any interventions. Those early conversations focused on information sharing to understand the capacity of each partner.
During the 2018-19 program year, this team referred over 6,000 clients for WorkSource Center services or for training at one of the LAUSD adult schools. In addition to working directly out of the WorkSource Center and DACE school locations, the Navigators participate at local community events and job fairs and conduct ongoing community outreach to promote the opportunities available at the schools and WorkSource Centers. Beyond the career technical education training provided to clients, the Navigators offer soft skills and employability training as part of the job preparation process.
A Success Story
Tomas Luna completed the Medical Assistant Program at Evans Community Adult School
One of many noteworthy student success stories is Tomas Luna, an immigrant from Mexcio who started studying ESL at Evans Community Adult School in Chinatown in 2016. Before moving to the United States, he completed training as a Lab Technician and two years of medical school in his home country. After arriving in the U.S., Tomas worked in Quality Control for a meat company for 20 years and as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for L.A. County. After taking ESL classes, Tomas participated in a First Aid class where he realized he never lost his desire to work in the medical field and help people live healthier lives and set a goal to enroll in the Medical Assistant program.
Tomas’ greatest challenge was his English language skills; he began his ESL studies at the Intermediate Low A level. But through hard work and the support of his instructors, Tomas eventually attained the reading score needed to be eligible for the program and received funding for the program from the Downtown/Pico-Union WorkSource Center. Recently, Tomas passed the National Health Career Association’s Medical Assistant Certification exam, polished his resume and is starting to apply for Medical Assistant positions.
From taking ESL classes to being poised to launch a career in the highest demand industry in L.A., this would not have been possible without the dedication of DACE and EWDD staff to a partnership built on mutual understanding and trust to ensure successes for job seekers with high barriers to employment and employers alike.