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August 10, 2015

Willie Wallace is a Youth Program Specialist at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Here he describes his role, discusses what he likes best about working in workforce development and shares one of his proudest professional moments. 

Tell us about your role at SDWP.

My role as a Program Specialist is to oversee contracts for compliance and performance. To do that I must: 1) develop and monitor contracts; 2) give guidance to my assigned contractors; 3) have working knowledge of the various systems used in our Accounting Department and our Data System (CalJOBs); and 4) foster good working relationships with my co-workers and service providers.

What do you like best about working in workforce development?

Playing a part in the design and implantation of various workforce initiatives, witnessing the positive effect that workforce programs have on youth and adults lives (e.g., seeing a drop-out return to school or get their GED and obtaining a job when it took so much perseverance by them to achieve their positive outcome), seeing youth and adults feel good about themselves as a result of their achievements.

What professional moment or project are you most proud of?

I have had many proud moments as a workforce professional over the past 45 years in positions such as Youth Counselor, Assistant Program Director and Director of Manpower Programs. However, I will reflect on the most recent moment—I was the Program Specialist for a project that San Diego Second Chance operated that was designed to train participants in agriculture (community vegetable garden) and plumbing with WIA funds. The program served out-of-school youth who were seeking either their GED or high school diploma.

The participants in the Community Garden Program cultivated, picked and sold the products of the garden to the community people. The garden is located on Second Chance’s property on Imperial Ave. in Southeastern San Diego and is still functioning today after five years. The plumber program consisted of twenty participants. Second Chance subcontracted with Bill Howe, a local plumbing company, to train the participants who learned prep techniques for pipe welding or soldering and other plumbing skills. Bill Howe hired five of the participants themselves and assisted the others with their job search. 

There is nothing more exciting than to see youth and young adults achieve a milestone that at one time in their lives seemed so far from achieving. You see the proud faces of parents, girlfriends, wives, sometimes children and other supporters. It’s a good feeling for all involved.

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