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NAACP workshop helps locals prepare for employment

May 25, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Close to 100 people turned out for a pre-employment workshop sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in partnership with the Minority Business Association of Southern California.

"The purpose of the workshop was primarily to empower members of the community to prepare themselves for employment," said local NAACP president Marlene Thomas.

The workshop's theme was "NAACP: It's time; cultural sensitivity pre-employment training workshop." It was from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the El Centro Community Center.

Workshop themes included job readiness, employer expectations and how to prepare for the workforce.

Thomas said the NAACP knew there was a need for such a workshop as the county continues down the path of economic development and the 600 jobs pending at the BP Ventures beef-processing plant under construction in Brawley.


BP Ventures personnel director Bill La Marr discussed the employment opportunities at the plant, expected to open in October.

He said the company will not have the highest-paying jobs, nor the lowest-paying, but that those with skills will be paid the most. For example, La Marr said those using knives to begin the removal of hides from the beef must ensure they do not nick the hides or what will become the cuts of beef.

La Marr said the plant will need a few mechanics familiar with hydraulics and pneumatics, as well as electricians who will work with voltages in the 460 range.

When asked, La Marr said the plant hopes to provide such benefits as health, dental and vision and perhaps life insurance, a retirement system and vacation.

"We're putting that together right now," he said.

La Marr said the company received about 3,800 applications and that in the next couple weeks there will be initial orientation meetings to help whittle down the number of prospective employees. He said it will be nothing like working in a vegetable packing house.

He said the jobs are not divided be sex, overtime will not be used and production will be done on day shift, with shipping done on a second shift. The second shift might not be full-time, he said.

"We don't have that worked out yet," La Marr said.

Other presentations were made by Ken Hollis, county executive director of the Valley of Imperial Development Alliance; Ruben Gonzales, state Employment Development Department one-stop employment center site coordinator in El Centro, and Frank Robinson, Brawley and El Centro branch manager of Union Bank of California.

Robinson's theme was "the next step." He said the plan to success includes 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. He gave everybody present homework to decide where they want to be in five years.

"The actions you take today will dictate what you are in five years," he said, adding that like any good business plan, people should have a good personal plan.

Robinson stressed the importance of communication skills. For example, he said as a bank manager he can teach somebody the needed skills to work in a bank, but a person must be able to communicate effectively.

"If you have the ability to communicate effectively, it'll take you anywhere," he said.

He suggested people pick the brain of successful people and ask them to be mentors.

He said his three-step plan for success is to develop a plan, be as positive as possible and make it happen.

Thomas said the idea to hold such a workshop began to form more than a year ago. She said the message she would like people to take home is "they are somebody" and the idea that there is no help for them in their efforts to join the workforce is an artificial barrier.

"I am absolutely pleased with the turnout. Not only did they come, but they stayed," Thomas said.

She said those who made presentations will remain available to those who attended.

"The choice, the decision, lies within each of them," Thomas said.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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