As the COVID-19 pandemic spurred widespread economic crises in the late spring and early summer of 2020, Regional Directors of Employer Engagement from the North Far North Regional Consortium partnered with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s Office of Civic Engagement and other key stakeholders to attempt to address dual employment challenges in the Health and the Retail, Hospitality & Tourism sectors.
The workgroup assembled in April when staff from Steinberg’s office reached out to regional consortium leadership about supporting the transition of displaced hospitality workers into suitable roles in the health field that were suffering employment shortages. Myself and my colleague Julie Holt (Regional Director of Employer Engagement, Health, North Far North Regional Consortium) began a series of weekly meetings with input from a variety of partners, including workforce and unemployment transition experts, the local Center of Excellence, and industry leaders in the two sectors in question.
First, the workgroup identified a number of clearly transferable skillsets between the two sectors, particularly around culinary, customer service, and housekeeping or custodial roles in Senior Living and Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing, and elected to focus on these subsets of the health sector as areas of employment opportunity for RHT workers.
The workgroup then set about creating a website to serve as an employment transition hub as well as a resource for pursuing community college education or upskilling. Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) hosted and built the website, with the Regional Director’s working to provide much of the content. The site launched in mid-June at https://sacramentoworks.org/h2h/
A key function of the site is to serve as a hub to a broad range of job opportunities in Senior Living Communities and Skilled Nursing Facilities, with dozens of links to jobs pages for individual facilities and for statewide organizations like the California Assisted Living Association.
Separately, it includes a variety of resources aimed at encouraging displaced workers to consider pursuing upskilling or a new career path at community colleges across the Greater Sacramento area. Visitors can find information on the various colleges and degree or certificate programs around the region, learn more about Financial Aid or the California Promise Grant, or connect to Adult Education and High School Equivalency programs.
The site has been promoted to unemployed workers through SETA. Efforts to conduct outreach to displaced workers through RHT employers and organizations have encountered setbacks, but remain underway.
This project represents a timely and innovative cross-sector effort between regional directors, city agencies, industry and employers to move to address massive economic uncertainty amidst a historic public health crisis. It exemplifies the responsive and connected role that regional directors can provide as a key actor and interlocutor in workforce and economic development initiatives, even in times of major societal upheaval.