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A Special Report: Jobs : KOREATOWN : PACE Matches Trainees, Employers

July 11, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

The fliers sound too good to be true: "Want a good job but lack skills and experience? Can't afford the training? You can get training worth $4,000 free."

But the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment means what it says. Since 1974, its staff has trained hundreds for jobs in word processing, office and clerical work, banking, sales, shipping and warehouse work and related fields.

The consortium's adult job-training program serves low-income and unemployed residents of Central Los Angeles. Applicants must be citizens or have a green card, said Ruben V. Rodis, an employment specialist for the consortium.

Funded under the Job Training Partnership Act, the eight- to 13-week program begins with classroom sessions to boost basic math and English skills of the trainees. Participants receive an allowance for transportation and child care during the classroom portion of their training. More than 100 are trained each year.

But as Rodis said: "It's not enough that we train people. We have to find them a job too."

So after finishing the classroom segment, trainees are matched with employers for on-the-job training. During this phase of the program, the consortium reimburses employers for about 40% of the trainees' salaries.

"This gives employers an incentive to hire the participants in our program," Rodis said. "It also means less work for the employers because we do the interviewing and screening, we get all the documentation needed and we send them the best."

Susan G. Ng, a consortium instructor, said about 85% of the trainees are retained by their employers after the subsidy period ends.

One of the benefits of on-the-job training is that trainees learn skills linked to specific jobs that are sought after by employers.

A month before her training with the consortium ended, Nelda Atienza accepted a job offer from a Downtown employer, PNH Imports, as an office manager and customer service representative. A teacher when she first came to the United States from the Philippines in 1982, Atienza was referred to the consortium by a friend.

"I wanted to try office work," she said. "The training made a big difference for me. I learned about office procedures, computers and operating other office equipment."

Atienza said the consortium's staff also helped her practice answering questions likely to be posed by prospective employers during interviews.

"If a student doesn't get a job after the training, it's got to be his or her own fault," because the instructors and job developers "go all out to help the students," Atienza said.

The consortium accepts a new class of as many as 26 trainees every 13 weeks. Classes meet Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Rodis said applications for the next session are due this week.

In addition to the adult on-the-job training program, the consortium offers an in-school program for youths 16 to 21. The program encourages youths to finish high school while learning job-search skills and places them in temporary after-school jobs with community organizations to give them work experience.

For those who want to chart their own course, the consortium also offers an entrepreneurial training class through its Business Development Center. The class is designed for people who want to start their own business.

And for those who would rather work outside than in an office, the consortium's Neighborhood Gardens Project offers opportunities for people to grow their own fruits and vegetables in community gardens on vacant lots. Tools, seeds and instruction are free.

The consortium is at 2525 W. 8th St. Information: (213) 389-2373.

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