When Robert Guzman joined CCLC in 2018, he was the only Career Pathways Navigator at the Near West American Job Center, a comprehensive one-stop hub in Pilsen for adult education providers. He helped to establish the Career Pathways model by working as a liaison between adult students, or job seekers, and the workforce system. In February 2020, Robert received the Skills Firebrand Award from the National Skills Coalition for his dedication and work on policy advocacy for adult education.
“Seeing the progress people make keeps me motivated. When I joined CCLC, the first people I worked with were receiving unemployment and SNAP benefits. When I saw them again later that year, their English had improved and they had earned their GED to register for a training certificate program,” said Robert.
Since it was established, the Career Pathways program has referred over 1,500 people to adult education programs, workforce training or other supportive services, he said.
In fall of 2020, Robert was promoted to One-Stop Operator Director and now supervises ten American Job Centers. As the demand for navigators increased in the last year, the team and its reach to broader resource networks have also grown as a result.
“A lot of people were falling behind because of the pandemic and the digital literacy divide. The navigators were able to pivot to virtual office hours and phone calls. Now, it’s standard procedure for us to have virtual orientations, outreach and office hours.”
“A lot of our work is about strengthening equity in workforce development. No one is staying behind anymore because of things like a language barrier or their economic status,” said Robert. “Navigators are here to meet job seekers and adult students wherever they are in their careers and guide them to pipelines of high demand sectors that will lead to sustainable employment and economic success.”Robert Guzman