As guest speaker at the 58th BankWork$ graduation ceremony that took place Feb. 4 at the L.A. Expo Center, Terri Decker, a senior vice-president at OneWest Bank, welcomed the 21 graduating trainees to join her in a fulfilling career.
“Retail banking is all about people, about taking care of your customers, and I have loved it,” she said.
Decker then underscored OneWest Bank’s commitment to supporting the BankWork$ program, now in its 10th year, by presented a $25,000 check to JVSLA.
JVS BankWork$ is an award-winning job training and placement program that prepares low-income adults from traditionally underserved communities for careers in the financial industry. The eight-week intensive course is free, but applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions. What sets BankWork$ apart from other training programs is that, immediately following the graduation, recruiters from partnering banks meet with students in an on-site job fair.
With a 42-year career in banking, Decker well understands the qualities that make someone successful in banking and at the BankWork$ graduation and job fair, she saw the quality in spades.
“All of the graduates presented themselves so well,” Decker said. “OneWest Bank will absolutely continue to support this program, and we will hire people.”
BankWork$ alum Janiel Douglas, 30, spoke to the graduates about how the program had helped her push the “reset button” on her career. Douglas had previously trained as a pharmaceutical technician but when she could not find a job in that field she simultaneously worked at a Dollar Tree store and managed a bridal shop. While those jobs provided her with valuable customer service skills, she was unable to make ends meet. At the suggestion of her sister, who was a program graduate herself, Janiel signed up for BankWork$, was subsequently hired by OneWest Bank as a teller and was soon promoted to personal banker.
“Now, I now have a car, my own apartment and a job I love,” she said. “In three years my life took a 180 turn.”
BankWork$ powerfully demonstrates how public-private partnerships can successfully bridge the skills gap by partnering with employers to prepare job seekers for positions businesses need to fill. The program is funded by local banks, foundations, private donors, and the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) via JVS’ WorkSource Centers, as well as EDD and ETP State funding.