Local job seekers and businesses continue to have access to free resources designed to boost their success and the health of the local economy, thanks to Arizona@Work Southeastern Arizona.
The non-profit organization, funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, aims to meet the needs of employers, and to find the right people to fill their job vacancies.
Executive Director Vada Phelps gave an annual report to the Cochise County Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting on February 27. The workforce development board is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
During her presentation, Phelps gave a brief overview of the organization and highlights from the period covering July 2016 to June 2017.
Arizona@Work operates four One Stop Career Centers in Sierra Vista, Douglas, Safford and Clifton – it is responsible for Cochise, Graham, and Greenlee Counties after services were merged about seven years ago.
“Combining the three Counties has worked out very well, and Cochise has been the lead County in that process,” Phelps said.
More than 30,500 visits were made to the four job centers during 2016-17, where clients could take advantage of help with resume writing, interview skills, job searches, training, and workshops.
The organization, headquartered at the Cochise College Downtown Campus, Sierra Vista, also assisted businesses and other entities by hosting hiring fairs. These included the Peacock Restaurant and Dickey’s BBQ in Sierra Vista, Oakland Construction in Safford, Customs & Border Patrol, and the U.S. Army.
Other services included career and education fairs, rapid responses to company layoffs, on-the-job trainings, workshops, and a focus on sector strategies, including healthcare in Cochise County.
During her overview, Phelps pointed to the financial clean bill of health Arizona@Work Southeastern Arizona has received for the last eight years through its annual audit.
“We are very proud of that,” she said.
However, there is concern regarding the budget as the Federal government looks to cut many of its social programs. Workforce development could be facing a 20 percent decrease in funding, said Phelps.
“Our biggest fear is that we might have to close an office, which we really do not want to do because we are already operating at minimum staff,” she added. “However, we are excited about what the future holds and we will continue to try our best to ensure our services continue.”
Ann English, chair of the Board of Supervisors, said, “It’s important for us as a Board to support a program that helps people to find work and to develop the skills they need. That’s the key to success.”