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Making it Easier to Find Career-Quality Jobs in an Hourglass Economy 

Staff Perspective Belén Seara

Dear GHSMC partners,

For the last few weeks, I have been actively recruiting across San Mateo County for the EMS Corps (Emergency Medical Services) training program. This program is a great opportunity to get the necessary skills and to build a professional network to access a living-wage job with career pathways in the growing healthcare sector. Accessing well-paying and stable jobs that enable social mobility and good health is getting more difficult in an economy that is producing jobs primarily in the lower and upper end of the wage brackets while producing fewer traditionally middle-class jobs. And middle wage jobs are critical to having a stable income and job that can support a family and improve health –a critical component of GHSMC’s Healthy Economy agenda.

Applicants for the training program have to be young males of color between the ages of 18 and 26 who come from a disadvantaged background. Get Healthy San Mateo County is offering a $5,000 student grant to participants to complete the training. Participants will also be offered the opportunity to interview for a potential job opportunity with the American Medical Response (AMR) San Mateo County for entry level positions. If you are interested or know of a potential candidate, the program is accepting applications until November 17, 2017.  

I am excited for this new partnership with EMS Corps. For the past six years, this program has created opportunities in Alameda County for young men of color to access career jobs in the healthcare sector that may not have been available to them absent this rigorous and supportive 5-month training. Out of 125 graduates, approximately 100 graduates continue to work in the EMS field. They graduate approximately 89% of trainees from each cohort and three out of four graduates pass the certification program to become an emergency medical technician. These numbers are outstanding considering the barriers that many of the participants have faced to access opportunities that can lead them to success.

EMS Corps focuses on disadvantaged young males of color because they have often grown up in disinvested and unsafe neighborhoods and schools, have been subject to institutionalized racism, or have been disenfranchised from meaningfully participating in the civic life of our communities. EMS Corps understands that the absence of opportunities for these young males of color early in their lives has made it difficult for them to start tapping into their full potential by the time they become young adults. EMS Corps is intentionally designed to ensure the success of its participants and they are exploring options for young woman of color for the future.

In addition to the rigorous academic course work necessary to complete the Emergency Medical Technician certification, EMS Corps program includes a series of wrap-up services that enable students to succeed. The training program includes mentorship, healing circles, life coaching, and one-on-one academic support, among many other services. And the best part of the deal is the strong emphasis on job placement during and after the program so students can learn by doing and qualified students can access a job in emergency medical services upon their EMT certification. 

Get Healthy San Mateo County understands that there are structural barriers for young males of color to achieve their full potential and live a long and healthy life. A recent report shows that despite decreasing suspensions in California k-12 schools overall, African-American students are still disproportionately suspended compared to other ethnic groups. These sanctions increase the likelihood of minority students entering the juvenile system and thus reinforcing a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunities that are difficult to escape unless the right resources and help are provided to redirect students to healthier opportunities.

We hope this partnership with EMS Corps is just the beginning of more intentional partnerships with workforce intermediaries to train disadvantaged or underrepresented residents to access the growing job opportunities in the healthcare sector. Targeted and holistic workforce development programs such as the EMS Corps are powerful and effective vehicles to achieve equitable access to quality job opportunities. 

I hope you can help me spread the word about this opportunity. And if you or a prospect have questions related to the application process or would like support developing your application, please contact me at or 605-573-2319. I can’t wait to work with prospective participants on their applications.

Belén Seara