EWDD General Manager Jan Perry delivered words of encouragement and congratulations to 15 graduates from the LAVC Metro Bridge Academy
EWDD General Manager Jan Perry delivered words of encouragement and congratulations to 15 graduates from the Los Angeles Valley College Metro Bridge Academy on Friday November 3, 2017.

“You’re going to have a big impact on a lot of people’s lives,” she said at the graduation ceremony, held at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) headquarters in Downtown LA. “It’s a chance to have your lives intersect. For all the times when I’ve been on public transportation, when people are nice to me, people always remember that.”

For two of the graduates, the 70-hour training program not only provided a chance to become a Metro bus operator, it represented a mid-life opportunity to pursue a new career with room for advancement.

Ivor Bok, 46, was living off savings after losing a job in sales when he stumbled upon the early September grand opening of the Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) Workforce Strategy Center and learned about the Metro program.

“I was applying for positions, going on interviews and nothing was happening,” Ivor said. “The few interviews I did go on, I was too old or something just didn’t click. I found out about the Metro position and saw the success that Metro was having in the city, and there were opportunities there.”

Ivor emigrated to the US from South Africa in 1989, attended LAVC and earned a bachelor’s degree in business at California State University Northridge. He spent 17 years working in administrative roles in the finance industry. Ivor credits the program with rebuilding his confidence and inspiring him to move forward with a dramatic career change.

“When you’re out of work, you really start questioning your self-worth,” he said. “You start wondering, ‘Why don’t people want to employ me?’ This program, it’s like they build you up from scratch again. [Now] I’m in the library. I’m working hard. I’m doing things again. This program has been a god send.”

As the sole breadwinner for his family, Ivor said he is excited to begin a new career and is confident that the program’s training in customer service and interview skills has prepared him for his interview with Metro. The Metro Bridge Academy graduates are scheduled to interview with Metro on November 14. Those with successful interviews will be fast tracked into Operation Central Instruction to become Metro bus operators.
Los Angeles Valley College Metro Bridge Academy Fall 2017 Graduates. Ivor Bok, top left, and Valerie Flowers, top fourth from left
Los Angeles Valley College Metro Bridge Academy Fall 2017 Graduates. Ivor Bok, top left, and Valerie Flowers, top fourth from left

“You can have a good job with benefits,” he said. “Things aren’t as dire as you think they are.”

Fellow graduate Valerie Flowers, 51, was laid off after 25-years working in customer service, mostly in the medical and dental fields. After years of taking Metro to work, Valerie was very interested in joining the agency and once hired as a bus operator, hopes to eventually become a train conductor.

“I really needed a career change,” she said. “I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be a train conductor, [but] I found out I couldn’t be a train conductor until you become a bus operator. For the first time in her life, Valerie said she is looking forward to “A career,” she said. “Everything else has been a job.”

The new role will give Valerie the ability to save for her future and provide financial help to her 75-year-old mother, she said. “If I can get in there, I’m going to be in there till retirement,” Valerie said. “I’m going to be in there for the long haul.”

EWDD: Helping Vulnerable and Under-Represented Populations

In 2016, the City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board (WDB), in partnership with the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD), set aside a $750,000 grant to increase workforce training opportunities for Vulnerable and Underrepresented Populations (VUP). Working with community-based organizations, the VUP Program is designed to help transgender and gender non-conforming workers, older workers, men of color, ex-offenders, homeless youth, single parents and linguistically isolated adults.

This success story is highlighted in the EWDD Updates Newsletter from the week of 11/6/2017, representing all the WorkSource Centers and the vital services they provide each day.


Learn more about EWDD Employment Services and WorkSource Centers