Hosted on December 15th by workforce development agency JVS, “Build Back Better: Solutions for Job Seeker & Small Business Needs Now” takes a look at a new three-way model to ensure good job outcomes for workers. The model hinges around around paid work experience, established by matching employee training needs with a small business that’s missing an in-demand skillset.

Lisa Countryman-Quiroz of JVS opened the presentation by introducing Holly Vale, an accountant clerk in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vale didn’t a qualification to move into broader administration role, so worked with co-operative staffing agency Turning Basin Labs for a placement at a Small Business Majority member business. Small Business Majority saw that small businesses were battling to get access to good talent during early COVID, putting their survival and so too the employment of two thirds of Californians at risk.

Vale was able to complete the paid placement and establish the further skills and confidence to start her own bookkeeping business. She is also enrolled in an accounting course at City College of San Francisco and may get a full degree to become a controller. Making the most of her existing skills allowed Vale to continue to work remotely when shelter in place was mandated.

Xiomara Pena from Small Business Majority spoke next, outlining some of the high-level stats. 30% businesses remain closed in California. 41% of Black- and Latino-owned businesses wouldn’t make it through the next few months without additional financial support. One in five are filing for bankruptcy. Having a low-cost, trusted way for micro-enterprises to manage bookkeeping during an unforeseen economic downturn was crucial. One such business was Vanessa Nava’s Xiquihuitl Media who benefited from quickly adding on cost-effective bookkeeping capacity, also present in the call.

Next up was Stephen Bediako of Turning Basin Labs, a staffing agency whose co-operative model allows contractors to own shares after working 100 hours. Turning Basin Labs launched in August 2019 with funding from Irving Foundation. Community, mentoring and earning are three key “semi-analog” pillars to its model. Contractors earn $20 or more per hour during 8-week placements.

Finally, Isabel Guzman spoke about the impact of rapid-issue state loans in March, organized by The California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA). Ana Gutierrez signalled Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the need to connect the dots in the employment ecosystem.