Sunday, December 4 , 2016, 5:31 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Business

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.

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