Downtown Reno employment center seeing up to 1,400 job-seekers a month
RENO, Nev. — This past October, the American Job Center of Nevada, the first comprehensive workforce development center in Northern Nevada, opened its doors inside the Reno Town Mall.
Roughly three months later, the center is seeing job-seekers file in like clockwork, to the tune of 1,300 to 1,400 people a month, said Adrienne Santiago, program manager at the American Job Center.
“We’re super busy, and that’s great — we’re just trying to reach everyone,” Santiago told the NNBV. “We want them figuring out what their barriers are to employment and help them overcome those barriers so we can get them working.”
With that, the center provides free employment services and resources to all jobseekers, employers and businesses in one central location. Agencies represented in the center include Nevada JobConnect, JOIN Inc., Northern Nevada Literacy Council, Truckee Meadows Community College Adult Basic Education, among others.
“The American job Center can be that hub to be able to get everybody together, to be able to connect all the dots, and I think that’s what’s missing,” Santiago said. “Without the center, everyone’s been kind of doing their own thing, which is great, but now we can collaborate and attack it together as one, which is awesome, because that’s what’s going to make our community successful with placement.”
‘REMOVING THE FINANCIAL BARRIERS’
Santiago, who did not have any placement figures yet, said the industries with the most in-demand job openings are industrial, manufacturing, production and distribution, citing the latest Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation information.
“I have the (Nevada) Builders Alliance constantly calling me, asking me for help,” she said. “HVAC, (concrete) finishers, drywall … all of those are such a need. We have a housing shortage going on and they need people to fill those jobs.”
With that in mind, Santiago said JOIN Inc., a Reno-based workforce development agency, has been vital in getting people trained to enter those fields.
JOIN Inc. CEO Denise Castle said having a presence in the American Job Center has led to a significant uptick in inquiries.
“It has really brought awareness to JOIN’s program and enabled us to reach more of our community members and serve them better,” Castle said. “We’re focused on removing the financial barriers to allow someone to get that schooling that allows them to get in a livable wage career path.”
SERVING THE UNDEREMPLOYED
In terms of challenges, the center is striving to bring in clients that may be underemployed, said Santiago.
“We’re trying to get the word out to someone who maybe has been a hostess at Denny’s to think, ‘Hey, I can enroll in this cybersecurity program and qualify for a scholarship,” she said. “That’s a wonderful opportunity that I think a lot of people just don’t know about. We have a workforce need that someone might not be thinking about.”
And that applies to high school students, too. She said the center seeks to bring awareness to the trades as an alternative option to going the traditional four-year university route.
“We have the means to get them into higher wages faster,” she said. “They can be in a career in 6 to 24 months and be successful and raise a family and not be making $10-$11 an hour. That’s the message we really want to get out.”
After all, Nevada is the fastest growing state in the U.S., growing by 2.1 percent between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. What’s more, Northern Nevada is seeing a rapid influx of advanced manufacturing and tech companies move to the Reno area.
Added Santiago: “We’ve got a lot of companies here and we want to have that workforce here for them.”
Per the agreement, Caesars will continue to operate Harrah’s for the first half of 2020 before it’s redeveloped into a non-gaming hotel and mixed-use development.