Friday, November 17 , 2017, 1:14 pm | Fair 71º



Laid-Off Bank Employees Buoyed by Innovative Program to Help Them Find Jobs, Stay Local

Goleta Valley, Santa Barbara chambers of commerce unite with Workforce Investment Board to help former Santa Barbara Bank & Trust employees

Vickie McMurray thought Santa Barbara Bank & Trust gave its employees a good heads-up when officials announced plans to sell the company in 2012.

Later that year, Union Bank was named as buyer, and McMurray and hundreds of community bank colleagues waited to see who would stay or go.

McMurray, a fifth-generation Santa Barbara resident and longtime bank employee, soon learned she was among the 300 or so locals losing their jobs last May.

She never dreamed that nearly a year later, she would still be without work.

And she’s not alone.

In an effort to keep some of the talented yet still unemployed former bank employees locally, the Workforce Investment Board of Santa Barbara County received special state funding to launch a business-focused, demand-driven response to the large-scale layoffs.

A smartly dressed McMurray sat down with Noozhawk on a recent morning, admirably an optimist although she’s gone from working 12-hour days in risk management to full-time job hunting.

She said WIB contacted her last summer, sending a talent transition survey to gauge marketability to employers — questions such as what experience she has and how far she would commute — and inviting her and just shy of 80 others to join breakfasts, job fairs, workshops and networking events hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, partners in the WIB program.

The Goleta Valley chamber even offered her some part-time temp office work.

“It was good to be utilized again,” McMurray said. “I’d really like to get into a position where I’m busy.”

Realizing most former bank employees won’t be able to return to banks, WIB is trying to get the word out to private industry about these available employees — not “overqualified” middle managers but those with translatable skills to other fields.

Many are talented in IT, human resources, real estate loan processing, e-banking, security analyzing and more, said Luis Servin, WIB business services coordinator.

“I see it every day when I interact with them,” Servin said. “They’re worried; they don’t know where to turn. We want to know where the jobs are. This project was created to be more data-driven, business-focused type of response.”

The second part of the survey — whose results are to be released later this month or next — allows employers to outline what they’re looking for via help of chamber partners.

The Santa Barbara chamber has even offered up its facilities for job interviews.

“We’re just really happy we can provide an ongoing commitment with our communities,” chamber president Ken Oplinger said.

Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kristen Miller said it’s been rewarding to be involved in something so specific to help the local workforce.

Many former employees have reached out to WIB, but Servin encouraged more to do so.

Funding for the WIB program was supposed to end this month, but Servin said an extension into 2015 is likely.

Former Santa Barbara Bank & Trust employees are trying to get by until then, McMurray included.

She’s enjoyed spending more time with family, but is excited for the next driven career that allows her to learn and grow.

McMurray wasn’t sure how many former colleagues have secured jobs, but WIB is planning to gather that information later this year.

Any former bank employee or employer interested in the WIB program can contact Servin at 805.681.4643.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Elizabeth Wagner
"I consider myself to be an up front and honest agent and willing to talk my clients out of purchasing a property that isn’t right for them or won’t meet their needs in a year or two."

Full Profile >