Summer is coming up, which means it is time for some to start thinking about jobs.
For 49 job seekers in Solano County, this means taking part in a digital marketing training program designed by Facebook resulting in paid summer fellowships at local businesses and nonprofits. These 49 individuals have already begun their training this week for the Career Connections program, which was coordinated with the Workforce Development Board (WDB) of Solano County.
Heather Henry, executive director of Solano WDB, said the agency was one of six workforce development boards from throughout California to connect with Facebook in December for the program.
“We particularly felt this was important because of COVID,” she said.
Henry said the pandemic has impacted the local workforce in two significant ways. One has been the difficulty of small businesses breaking through the “online noise” and connecting to their customer base. The other has been the growing demand for remote work and the opportunity for job seekers to utilize digital resources in their occupations.
“We felt this was a great way to connect those two dots, particularly as digital marketing is a career where you don’t have to have a degree in order to be successful in,” she said.
Henry said a major benefit of the project is that it focuses on underserved communities and enhancing digital marketing capabilities in certain areas.
“They can support individuals that may be from more vulnerable populations and smaller businesses that may not have access to some of those pieces,” she said. “That was something we were interested in working with them on.”
For the application process, Henry said Facebook had an interest form and application for both the job seekers and businesses where individuals were vetted on their goals. Solano WDB, in turn, worked with businesses and job seekers to enroll them and connect with the businesses to build work experience.
“We did a lot of local push from an outreach standpoint,” she said. “Facebook also did a social media push.”
In the end, 49 job seekers and 49 businesses were selected for the program and matched accordingly. The job seekers will spend the rest of the month taking part in an online training session with Facebook with lessons on digital marketing. Each individual will be placed with a Solano business or nonprofit to promote them on social media.
The selected businesses all have 10 employees or fewer and range from Solano Baking Company in Dixon to a variety of nutrition, arts and entertainment, beauty, chiropractic and consulting businesses. The nonprofits include Starbound Theatre, Vallejo Community Access Television, Solano Land Trust, Solano County Fair Association and Solano County Library Foundation.
Participants will be paid with federal workforce funds and the program is at no cost to business owners, according to a WDB press release.
Henry said the program would provide job applicants with paid work experience and could develop into employment if successful. Businesses will also be provided with free training and $500 advertising credit on Facebook and Instagram to help them reach their marketing goals.
She also said it would provide an opportunity for businesses to build their online presence, something very necessary in the 21st century workforce.
“Being so close to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, we tend to think of being able to leverage that technology and digital marketing aspect of it, but Solano County really hasn’t had a strong occupational presence in that area,” she said. “What we’re actually seeing happening with the businesses that we’re working with is we’re actually creating jobs in digital marketing in the county. We’re really excited about that because it’s not only supporting our job seekers to get into careers with a lot of opportunities, but we’re also helping our small businesses.”