Officials Prep Laid-Off Auto Workers For Job Hunt

fromKQED

When a once-storied joint venture between automakers GM and Toyota closes April 1, nearly 5,000 workers in Fremont, Calif., will be out of a job. Unemployment in this area is already high, so county officials are using federal funds to help the workers brush up their job skills.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

In Fremont, California, roughly 5,000 people will be out of work when a joint venture between GM and Toyota shuts down April 1st. Unemployment around the San Francisco Bay Area is already high, nearly 12 percent, so local officials are scrambling to help workers prepare for the rigors of the job hunt.

From member station KQED, Rachael Myrow reports.

RACHAEL MYROW: Ahead of the shutdown, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., or NUMMI, is running full-bore, building Toyota Tacomas and Corollas.

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MYROW: Off the assembly line, workers are getting ready to leave for good. In order to soften the impact on the local job market, the county funded two special one-stop career transition centers, one of them here in the plant. Courses included a refresher on the job interview with Marc Mendel of Hayward Adult School.

Mr. MARC MENDEL (Hayward Adult School): You can send them a thank-you note or a thank-you email. I suggest that you not send a thank-you text message. That's a little too informal.

MYROW: The other one-stop center across the street in the union hall could stay open as long as three years. Thanks to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, these classes and a whole lot more are available to anyone, employed or not, at one-stop centers across the country.

The one-stop at NUMMI closed last week, but not before Shay Church(ph) took a battery of classes in career assessment, job hunting, resume basics and a primer on government benefits. As a single mom, she has no time to dwell on disappointment or fear, although the local unemployment rate is nearly 12 percent.

Ms. SHAY CHURCH: I plan on getting on the job hunt immediately. And if I can't find a job that suits me right away, then I do plan on doing some kind of career training, go with that direction.

MYROW: Church will enter the job hunt with some financial padding in the form of a severance package, not so those who work for the network of more than a thousand suppliers that feed NUMMI. Add in their employees and those who work for companies that rely on those suppliers, and you have an estimated 30,000 Californians unemployed when NUMMI shuts down.

For NPR News, I'm Rachael Myrow in San Francisco.

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