Program aims to help Arizonans find new careers

April 28, 2021

To watch a video about jobseekers finding new careers through ARIZONA@WORK, go here.   Article below:


PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maria Pepe moved to Phoenix from Indonesia in 2019 for her husband, leaving behind a career she loved in human resources.


"I started from the very bottom in Indonesia for more than ten years, and I achieved my supervisory, middle manager level," she told 3 On Your Side. Pepe had plenty of experience but couldn't land a job offer in the Valley. "Seventy applications, but nothing happened. Here, I have to start from zero. That was very frustrating and very stressful."


Pepe connected with Arizona@Work and went through the SOAR program. She worked with Angela Boozer, a career counselor. "We help underemployed and unemployed individuals become more marketable," Boozer said.


In less than a year, the program helped more than 6,200 people. Boozer says many of them were facing the reality that their jobs, lost in the pandemic, were gone for food. Others, she said, made the decision during the pandemic to work toward a new, more recession-proof career path.


"Just seeing careers that there's a future in, helping those customers and getting them re-skilled for an in-demand career," Boozer said.


Often, that means help with things like resume writing, interview skills, short-term licenses, and certifications.


"A lot of times, employers want these certifications and licenses. That way, the vetting is done for them," Boozer said.


According to Arizona@Work-Phoenix, there has been a significant shift over the past decade and a half in the greater Phoenix workforce. In 2007, nearly 60% of the area's workers had jobs in retail, real estate, hospitality, and construction. More than 60%of workers have jobs in bioscience healthcare, manufacturing, technology, business, and financial services, and these higher-paying careers are growing. Over the next 18 months, more than 8,000 jobs in biosciences are expected to open, a spokesperson for Arizona@Work-Phoenix said. Training programs through Arizona@Work are free.


Recently, Pepe completed the certification she needs, got a job, and is back on the familiar career path she knows and loves. "I love my HR path. That's what I will always want," She said. "It's about helping people. I'm so blessed about this."