Are You Ready to Work?

April 2012, CUJ

Job readiness classes, career fair planned to prepare adults, youth for decisions, opportunities.

MISSION – Job readiness classes and hiring events for two new restaurants are planned in April and May on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The events will be free and open to the public.

Also, the Confederated Tribes are sponsoring an eighth-grade career fair expected to draw 1,200 teen-agers from throughout the region. The career fair has for years been organized and carried out by the Umatilla-Morrow-Baker Education Service District, but this year a lack of funding threatened to cancel the event until the Tribes took it on.

The weekly job readiness classes – starting April 7 and then every Saturday through May 5 – will take place at the Nixyaawii Governance Center on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, but are open to the public no matter where they live. The classes are free, as is lunch, with child care provided.

Dairy Queen and Subway are holding “hiring events” on May 11. Subway already is advertising for manager positions. Both fast-food restaurants plan to open this summer in a new three-shop facility under construction in Coyote Business Park. Subway expects to hire 10-15 people and Dairy Queen intends to hire 20-25 workers.

Although the job readiness classes have in mind employment at Dairy Queen and Subway, the classes will provide “transferable skills” that can be added to a resume for jobs other than eating establishments.

The eighth-grade career fair will take place at the Pendleton Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 25. Some 1,200 mostly eighth graders are expected to attend from schools in Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Athena, Hermiston, Umatilla, Ione, Milton-Freewater, Irrigon, Heppner, Boardman, Stanfield, Helix, and Echo, as well as high students from Nixyaawii Community School.

“When we heard that ESD wasn’t able to do it this year, we decided to take that on and do something on the same scale,” said Nicole Richards, a RARE volunteer who has been helping the Tribal community plan for a youth organization. Cayuse Technologies and Wildhorse Resort & Casino are partnering with Tribal government programs to deliver the career fair.

The career fair has always been limited to young people, but this year the new plan calls for opening up the employment booths to the public for three hours in the late afternoon. Members of the public will be able to attend the career fair from 2-5 p.m. after the middle schoolers visit the more than 65 booths of local and area employers.

Dave Tovey, Executive Director for the Confederated Tribes, said the economic growth on the reservation has sparked not only commerce, but job opportunities.

“We always said we wanted to diversify the economy, not just assets but diversify jobs,” Tovey said. “We have a huge job creator in government and the casino, but not all aspire to have long term careers in those fields.”

The “dramatic” growth, with Coyote Business Park picking up speed, is having a snowball effect. Arrowhead was improved, McDonald’s was added, now Dairy Queen and Subway are being built on the same side of the highway as Cayuse Technologies and the Umatilla National Forest headquarters, which between them will have more than 400 employees.

“It’s always been the notion of the tribes to provide jobs, particularly for our young people,” Tovey said. “We know the wage rate is modest, but what a job opportunity for young people.”

The job readiness classes (advertised on Page 47) will teach a variety of skills, from conflict management to appearance and hygiene tips.

The job readiness classes are a joint effort of the Tribes’ Department of Economic and Community Development, Tribal Employment Rights Office and Human Resources.

“We want to make sure we are offering readiness training for the types of jobs that are coming,” said Stephanie Seamans at DECD. “In this case, we are coordinating our meetings with Subway and Dairy Queen. We’ve had dialogue about their needs and how the workshops can fill prerequisites for employment.”

The month-long series of classes will provide “skills utilized at most of the businesses in the region. These are transferable skills, not just for Subway and Dairy Queen.”

Seamans said the skills offered will look good on job applications and resumes. For example, she said, someone who gets their food handler’s license (one of the workshop topics) will have a foot up on somebody who applies without that certification.

“If you have certain skills like the food handler’s license, it can be an incentive for the employer to hire you rather than wait on someone else to get their license,” Seamans said.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Communication, conflict management and safety training
  • Job retention and handling chaos at the job
  • Food handler’s training
  • Cash register/Point of Sales training
  • Customer service
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Appearance/hygiene tips
  • Interview tips/interview sessions

Each day also includes evaluations for students.

This story originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.