Auburn program gives unemployed professionals job-finding edge

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Auburn’s Michael Zabker likes to say he’s gone from a job to a career.

And he credits a non-profit agency offering an intensive, 16-week program in Auburn, Roseville and Sacramento for job-seeking professionals with his new lease on a working life.

The program is the Professional Edge Training Series and it’s designed to provide cutting edge help for out-of-work professionals seeking to gain a foothold in today’s tight job market.

Zabker, 44, was laid off in June 2012 from a job as a security site leader. While he could revert to his backup job with a private detective agency in Auburn, he was growing frustrated as he looked for a full-time, secure position.

“There wasn’t much out there because of the economy,” Zabker said. “The best way to describe it was I was getting more and more lost.”

After learning about the California Employers Association’s weekly Professional Edge sessions in Auburn, Zabker signed on and was allowed to join the group immediately.

“It was a program for professionals not looking for an entry level job,” Zabker said. “I soon realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the job market. They were very open and easy to interact with. They provided more information on how to network and properly look for a job.”

These days, Zabker is happily employed with Sutter Health Security Services and credits Professional Edge with providing new job-seeking techniques.

“It’s the best job I’ve had since the time I worked for the sheriff’s department,” Zabker said.

Zabker’s successful transition from the ranks of the unemployed back into the work world is a good example of how the Auburn program, sponsored by the Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board, provides better strategic tools for a successful job search, said Daniela Devitt, outreach program director.

“We’ve been doing the Professional Edge Training Series since we were asked in 2010 by Golden Sierra to work with professionals, a group that was disproportionally unemployed in Placer County,” Devitt said.

It’s now a 16-week series that focuses not only on training for getting a job, but professional development in leadership and management.

The program averages an 80 percent success rate for job seekers in each 16-week training session, she said.

Unemployment remains high in the region, with the latest Employment Development Department statistics showing an 8.3 percent jobless rate in Placer County and 9.6 percent for the Sacramento region.

“The program now has 560 alumni currently connected to us and helping our members get back to work,” Devitt said.

That help includes mentoring other job seekers and helping find volunteer work in the community during their time of unemployment, she said.

The average age of enrollees is 45. Devitt describes the group as an aging workforce transitioning into the next economy. That transition can also mean taking an entrepreneurial role in the community. About 14 percent of the program’s graduates go on to start their own business, Devitt said.

“One of our best stories in Auburn involves one of our members from the tech sector who ended up buying a franchise that is now in its third year of operation,” Devitt said.

The last few weeks have shown more promise that the economic dark clouds are lifting somewhat in the region, she said.

“We were averaging about two hires a week but in the last month, we’re getting six a week,” Devitt said.

More information:

Contact Janis Aydelottt, outreach program coordinator at (530) 265-9991