Martha Anaya, director of the Arbor Training Center, said, "The employer is getting free labor. If he likes the person and he's already trained him, most likely he is going to hire him."
And while a desperate job-seeker may be willing to try anything, Arbor places workers according to their interest.
"If the participant shows interest in a particular department we will try to find someone who can use them in that field," Anaya said.
Arbor employees contact businesses in the fields where they wish to place workers, actively searching out employers who can provide work experience. Anaya said even if there is no long-term employment, the training is valuable and the job-seeker has the opportunity to experience the chosen field firsthand.
Sometimes they will find they don't really like the job they thought they wanted, and can move on to look for something else.
There are three programs at Arbor: one for "dislocated" workers, another for those seeking to get off welfare and into the work force and a third for youth.
The dislocated worker program helps those who are unskilled, recently laid off or members of the general public looking for a job. The program used to focus on training and then job placement; now it focuses on job placement with training in the workplace.
One-stop employment centers can be found in El Centro, Calexico, Brawley, Calipatria and Niland. These county centers work with Arbor and other programs like it to reach out to the people who need help finding work.
"They're trying to help whoever really needs the help," Anaya said.
The welfare to work program and youth program are more difficult, Anaya said. There are usually issues keeping the participants in these programs from working.
Welfare recipients, for example, often don't want to work because they are used to not having to.
"They're comfortable," Anaya said. "That's their life. They're used to it."
Youths face similar difficulties. Many have dropped out of school, come from broken homes or have drug problems. They are reluctant to attend classes and need motivation to work.
"We have to deal with the barriers in their life before we can actually place them," Anaya said. "What we've found with a lot of our youth … is they're used to selling drugs and going out and stealing to supplement their income," making it difficult to convince such young people to take a job for $6.25 an hour.
Anaya said youths usually don't come to Arbor unless they're looking to turn around their lives. She said they are encouraged to continue their education and find a legal job, "something they don't have to be watching their backs for."
Arbor is a federally funded program through the Workforce Investment Act. Its current contract runs through June 30; future funding will be based on the success of current programs, Anaya said.
Arbor can be reached at 353-4544.