Oakland City Hall and Frank Ogawa Plaza. Credit: Pete Rosos

The city of Oakland has a new job training resource for residents who lost work during the pandemic. The self-directed online learning program, which was unveiled on Feb. 22, offers a vast catalogue of professional courses and lessons in areas ranging from project management, to human resources, to business software tutorials.

The city’s Workforce Development Board contracted with Metrix Learning, a national online training company, to launch the platform. To date, about 115 people have registered for the service.

Over 5,000 courses are available in English, Spanish, and Cantonese. Users can choose from more than 180 professional certifications after completing online coursework, and after passing an in-person, supervised exam. Online coursework is free, but in-person exams are not.

Users are given six months to complete any course once they register, but extensions can be requested through one of the adult or youth service providers partnered with the Economic and Workforce Development Department.

The city used $30,0000 in funding from the CARES Act, a federal COVID-19 relief program, to launch the platform, according to Lazandra Dial, executive director of the Workforce Development Board. “Other workforce boards across the state are using Metrix to support their residents,” Dial said.

The city piloted the program this past summer through its summer youth employment program. “Our young people are typically placed on a job site but we couldn’t do that so we were looking for ways to pivot,” said Dial. “Now we’re scaling it up and making it available to everyone in the city of Oakland.”

Oakland residents can begin the registration process by going to the Oakland/Metrix Learning login page. After clicking on the orange “request a login” icon, users are directed to another page with a “sign up now” option. New registrants are asked to provide personal information including full name, email, city and county of residence, and employment status.

Non-English speakers who wish to register must have their internet browsers set to their preferred language. This will automatically translate the information on the platform page. Community organizations partnering with the city, including The Unity Council and Lao Family Community Development are also making staff available to assist non-English speakers with the registration process. If applicants don’t have access to a reliable internet connection to register, some of the city’s partner organizations offer computer labs with COVID-19 protocols in place for safe use. A list of Economic Workforce Development Department partners is available here.

Those who need help setting up an account can email support@metrixlearning.com for support.

There is no limit to the number of residents who can register for courses on the platform, and no proof of residence or identification documents are required.

“It’s accessible to anyone with an Oakland address, there’s no limitation,” Dial said.

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.