December 21, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
The San Jose based Center for Employment Training (CET), today not only provides employment training to local adults, but has become a mecca for others who wish to emulate CET or improving their own employment training programs.
Recently, a Rockefeller Foundation study announced that CET had been identified as having the “most effective program design for employment-training programs to help low-income single mothers move from welfare to work.
Carmen Placido recently promoted to be CET’s Region I Director of Northern California CET Branches and Divisions provided the liaison and coordination with the Foundation and had responsibility for CET’s program involved in the study.
The comprehensive Rockefeller study that resulted in this conclusion began in 1982 and ended in 1988. The study was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. under a contract with the Rockefeller Foundation. The Rockefeller Foundation, as a major benefactor for such programs, sponsored the study for the purpose of identifying the “most effective design for employment-training programs to help low-income single mother’s move from welfare to work. CET program participants performed better in employment rates and average earnings by the end of the first year after enrollment. The Foundation study involved voluntary programs run by community-based organizations.
Since the ﬁndings of Mathematica’s research have become known, CET has been inundated with requests from many groups wishing to learn more about the Center’s program design. Deputy Director Ermelinda Sapien says inquiries are coming from all over the world including the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. The World Bank, a part of the United Nations, exists to help “third world nations and their citizens develop economically.” The World Bank plans to train its own “Trainers” in the CET integrated employment training model. CET has had so many inquiries that it will develop and operate a training institute for those wishing to replicate the CET model.
CET has served the community as an employment training center since 1987. Russ Tershey, one of the founders, has been the Executive Director since its beginning. There are nine Corporate Directors. Dr. Antonio Soto, another of CET’s founders, has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors since the beginning of the organization. CET has a 24 member Board of Directors.
Today there are five independent CET locations: Marysville, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Hayward and Seattle, all modeled after CET San Jose. The CET Corporation in San Jose is the parent and headquarters for another 30 training centers throughout California and in the nearby states of Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona.
In 1989 alone, the CET programs instructed over 12,500 people in job training and English as Second Language (ESL)/Civics classes. In the 23 years that CET has existed, it has graduated and placed in employment 48,000 people. Unique to CET is a policy that the student is considered a graduate – when the student has completed a training program of their choice and has been successfully employed on a job for one month.
CET, according to Russell Tershey, is designed to train the “forgotten Americans.” He says, “targeting services to the very needy has repeatedly been demonstrated to yield the greatest return on investment in terms of wage gain and savings of public funds…”
The Rockefeller Foundation ﬁndings, “suggest that programs integrating basic education and skill training (are) more successful that ones offering these services separately.
According to the Foundation report, an integrated model such as CET’s does not require tests nor entrance requirements; the participants are placed directly into the job-specific skill training course of their choice. Correction if academic deficiencies and basic education are integrated with job-skill training that pertains to the job skills learned. The job training program is directly related to the needs of local employers and relies on instructors with direct experience in industry. Finally, and very important to the program’s success, are support services such as convenient child care and counseling.
Almost 100 companies representing some of the largest employers in the San Jose area serve on CET’s industrial Advisory Board.
Josephine Sanchez, who began her longtime association with CET as an instructor/counselor and has since early 80’s served CET in
Industrial Relations and as a Job Development Specialist says, “working at CET has been like belonging to one big family. We care deeply about each other and each of our students. ‘Si se puede’ is our motto.”
The CET staff, many of whom have worked at the Center since it was founded 23 years ago, and many in the community who have had contact with CET in one way or the other, are very pleased that the Rockefeller Foundation study veriﬁed what so many believed was so.
The CET program will be the subject of a feature story by Life magazine, a news documentary by American Public Radio, and has also already been featured in news articles by many of the nation’s major newspapers, such as, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. CET, on almost a daily basis, is now hosting visitors from other training programs. This last week they had a visitor from a training program based in San Antonio, Texas. Several weeks ago, CET was visited at its 701 Vine Street in location by a representative from the World Bank. Based upon the interest in CET’s program plan, CET has plans soon to establish the planned training institute in order to better assist those who wish to be trained in the CET program model.
The results of this Foundation study are signiﬁcant in particular because of the recent Family Support Act (FSA), passed in 1988, which mandates that each state establish a new “Job Opportunities and Basic Skills” (JOBS) program to provide employment training to recipients of Aid, to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Those programs are expected to require at least $1 billion a year of federal funds in addition to supplemental state funding designing the best training programs will determine the value of this legislation.
However, it is not certain that CET’s “integrated” training model will be successful at state/public agency operated programs with mandatory student participation. The programs tested were all operated by community based organizations and student participation was entirely voluntary.
The study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation involved four community based training programs one each in Atlanta, Providence, San Jose and Washington D.C.
The Foundation did determine that, for community based programs involving voluntary self referral student participation, CET’s integrated model proved to be the best training program for low income minority single mothers.
The twenty three years of quietly and effectively “meeting the needs of the forgotten American,” have now bee formerly verified as a consequence of the rigorous study conducted on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Persons interested in learning more about CET or its training programs may call (408) 287-7924.