News Story

Employment Centers Help People Worldwide

Luís Alberto Hom is the oldest in a Guatemalan family of nine children.  Guatemalan culture expects the oldest to set the pattern for education and work, but there were few jobs when Luís returned from his two-year volunteer service in Nicaragua as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Luís turned to the Career Workshop offered by the Church’s employment resource center in Guatemala City. As a result, he now works as municipal treasurer in Santa Catarina Palopó, a key position second only to the mayor. After he completes his university studies, he wants to become an architect. 

Luís’ experience mirrors the new beginnings of 239,000 people throughout the world who were placed in jobs, education programs and new or expanded self-employment in 2006 through Latter-day Saint Employment Resource Services and its global network of employment resource centers.

“We’re told our services have become the Church’s best-kept secret,” says Tim Sloan, director of the Church’s Employment Resource Services.

“But as these services affect more and more lives, more international business and government leaders with whom we partner are learning about us and discovering we are not about giving handouts. We’re about showing people how to dream of a better future, then how to take ownership of that dream and achieve it.”

“Our services are simply a means to an end,” says Sloan, “and that end is a job — one that empowers a person to be self-reliant and economically stable.”

The Church’s employment services are offered to people of all beliefs and backgrounds. Of the 239,000 individuals placed in 2006, 39 percent were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Currently the Church operates 284 employment resource centers around the world, of which 178 are located outside the United States and Canada. The majority — 73 domestically and 148 internationally — are staffed by volunteers. The others are managed by hired business professionals — experienced men and women who can negotiate with businesses, nongovernmental organizations, schools and micro-creditors.

In recent years, the Church has opened five to seven new employment resource centers each year in countries outside the United States and Canada. In 2006, new centers opened in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Philippines and Nigeria (additional centers for some of these countries).

By the end of 2007 the Church will have employment resource centers in 55 countries. New centers for 2007 will open in Kinshasa, DR Congo; Frankfurt, Germany; Tijuana, Mexico; the Moctezuma district of Mexico City; Panama City, Panama; Quito, Ecuador; Arequipa, Peru; and Campinas, Brazil.

“In developing countries where self-employment is the only option for many people, we are seeing amazing success in our work with micro-creditors who are willing to give small, startup loans to low-income entrepreneurs,” says Sloan. “In 2006 alone, more than 10,000 people started or expanded their own small business as a result of our work with micro-creditors, partnerships with organizations that provide advice and funding, referrals to schools and training programs, and the Self-Employment Workshop offered through our centers.”

Individuals seeking employment or better employment take the employment resource center-sponsored Career Workshop. This workshop, along with job fairs and other resources such as the relatively new Professional Placement Program for executives, helped place nearly 96,000 people in new jobs worldwide in 2006.

In many countries the concept of job fairs is new, and employment resource centers have often been the first to introduce or sponsor such fairs.

“Presidents and heads of state are taking note,” says Sloan. “Guatemala President Óscar Berger and the Ministry of Labor in Guatemala officially recognized the Church’s efforts during a national employment fair. The Ministries of Labor in Peru and Bolivia are now teaching our Career Workshop.”

Education placements through employment resource centers totaled more than 38,000 worldwide in 2006. Center managers negotiate with schools and technical colleges for tuition discounts and grants and scholarships.  Individuals who come to the center and complete a career assessment and plan often receive help in their selection of a career and a school that will provide the necessary training. 

Services offered through employment resource centers are based on the principle of self-reliance. Many patrons receive help in moving from a “self-defeating cycle” of perceived limited skills and resources to a “career self-reliance cycle” of identifying skills and resources and setting goals.

“A government official in Brazil cut the ribbon for one of our new centers,” recalls Sloan. “He asked us why we were doing this in his country. We replied, ‘Because we love the people of Brazil.’ We can talk of numbers of people placed in jobs, education and self-employment, but there’s a face behind every placement and a soul of worth behind every face.”

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