Rocky Mountain SER (Service Employment & Redevelopment) continues to provide employment and training services to lower Arkansas Valley residents who qualify.

Rocky Mountain SER (Service Employment & Redevelopment) continues to provide employment and training services to lower Arkansas Valley residents who qualify. The Rocky Ford RMSER office located at 919 Elm Ave. is staffed by Field Representative Linda Pantoya, who provides services to agriculture workers in seven counties including Otero, Crowley, Bent, Prowers, Kiowa, Baca and Pueblo. RMSER is the Colorado Grantee for National Farmworker Jobs Program and provides services statewide according to RMSER Workforce Director Leon Ortega.

The employment and training services are currently funded by the United States Department of Labor through a Federal grant under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The specific program under the Act is the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP). The NFJP is designed to assist Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers seeking support to remain in agriculture work and or assistance to receive employment and training through Occupational Classroom Training at local community colleges such as Otero Junior College and Pueblo Community College. Tuition, Fees and supportive service assistance is available to those enrolled in the NFJP. The local NFJP can also assist employment seekers with on the job training which allows local employers to hire participants of the program at their place of business in entry level positions and receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for hourly wages paid to their new employee by RMSER. This allows the employer a probation period to provide training to their new employee without taking on the entire cost. Some of the NFJP participants need basic work experience and the RMSER program can provide a work experience contract to local employers willing to allow a NFJP participant to work at their place of business to learn work ethic and prepare them to enter the workforce. The work experience allows a business the opportunity to have a job seeker placed at their business for up to 300 hours with RMSER paying the full hourly wage of the participant to them directly and will also cover the participant’s Workers Compensation while they are on the worksite.

The NFJP under WIOA is somewhat new, however employment and training services for migrant/seasonal farmworkers have been provided under different Federal Acts for over 40 years. RMSER has been providing Workforce services in Rocky Ford for over 35 Years. Field representative Linda Pantoya has worked for RMSER for over 32 years in both the La Junta and Rocky Ford offices and is eager to see new applicants for the program. The basic qualification for the NFJP is that during a 12-month consecutive period in the past two years from application the applicant must have earned 50 percent or more of their wages in agriculture work versus non-agriculture work. NFJP services are for United States citizens and or legal residents of the US. The best way to know if you qualify for the program is to call the Rocky Ford office at (719) 254-7667 or drop by 919 Elm Ave. in Rocky Ford to pick up an application and speak to Linda about your situation. Applications for services can also be picked up at the RMSER La Junta office located at the Town Square Mall, 208 Santa Fe Ave., Suite 108, La Junta. Businesses interested in on the job training or work experience should contact Linda Pantoya as well.