Adult Education Innovations
Allan Hancock Community College Consortium
Santa Barbara County, California
The Allan Hancock Community College Consortium, which includes the northern part of Santa Barbara County, is located on California’s Central Coast and encompasses a 3,000-square-mile service area. Approximately 300,000 residents reside primarily in Hispanic agricultural communities. North County is a socioeconomically challenged area. Santa Maria and Lompoc, North County’s largest cities, are characterized by struggling local economies, higher than average unemployment, low graduation, and literacy rates, large numbers of English as a second language learners and pockets of extreme poverty. Residents clearly indicate they want help with obtaining the basic skills and knowledge needed to obtain or find a better job.
To strategically serve the populations in need, members of the consortium came together to jointly staff a one-stop center where adult learners could conveniently receive information and guidance about employment and educational opportunities, as well as receive job-search assistance. The Allan Hancock College (AHC) Community Education program collaborated with the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board and the Employment Development Department (EDD) at the Workforce Resource Center (WRC), a one-stop American Job Center of California (AJCC) facility. These agencies, along with Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services, are co-located in the same building, at the WRC, to support local unemployed and underemployed residents.
The WRC Open Access Career Lab is staffed by AHC noncredit faculty who help local individuals search for a job, identify career goals and pathways, create resumes and perfect interview techniques and skills. Santa Barbara County Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program and local EDD job services staff who also work in the lab provide assistance with unemployment benefits and training opportunities.
This multi-partner collaboration and integration of services of major state and federally funded agencies is unique in the state, according to the Santa Barbara County WIA/WRC System Manager Mona Baker. The Career Lab at the Workforce Resource Center serves, on average, 2,000 students per semester, helping the unemployed and underemployed obtain jobs. This is an effective collaborative partnership where resources are shared to make a difference in the lives of those who are unemployed.