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Frustration Rules In Lagging Job Market

— Jobs are the heart of everything that’s done at the Center for Employment Training in Southeast San Diego. Vocational classes focus on teaching welding, construction and medical assistant skills. Karen Zagal, 22, is here hoping to get something better.

Karen Zagal
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Above: Karen Zagal

“I had jobs," said Zagal. "I worked at (the wireless store) Boost for maybe a month and they just laid me off. For no reason. I also worked as an office assistant for maybe two months.”

Right now, she’s an overnight security officer at a shopping mall. That job pays her bills, but she’s feeling the pressure of a tough economy.

“It’s really a hard time and not just that, everything’s expensive. I moved out of my mom’s place; I have roommates. Even to go grocery shopping is expensive. Even gasoline, it’s hectic. It’s not good.”

And while there’s a sense of frustration about the job market out there because there are more people looking for work than there are jobs available, things are actually a little bit better than they were a couple of years ago.

Welding class at the Center For Employment Training in Grant Hill
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Above: Welding class at the Center For Employment Training in Grant Hill

“I think looking for work is a job in itself, I mean, people are competing with people that have a lot of experience,“ said Hilario Torres, training coordinator at the Center For Employment Training.

Things are better than they were after the economic collapse, but it is far from perfect, according to Torres. Jobs are available, he said, but there are a lot of people chasing them.

“People that come through here are discouraged. A lot of times this is there last hope of being able to get into the job market.”

Torres works with people trying to improve their job skills so they can land good steady jobs. Part of that comes through vocational training. Part comes from work with the State Employment Development Department. The center helps with resume, interview and job searching skills.

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