Siskiyou Training & Employment Program, Inc. (STEP) is the contracted service provider of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded programs and services in Siskiyou County. Customers can access WIOA employment services through the One-Stop Center. Customers needing computerized literacy training or GED preparation can obtain these services through our Learning Lab.
The history of STEP dates back to July of 1971 with the passage of the Public Employment Program (PEP) by Congress. The program was operated in Siskiyou County as of July 1973 by the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, utilizing federal monies to pay public agencies to employ the unemployed in temporary work situations.
In that same year, Congress abolished PEP and replaced it with the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA). That program, retained by the College, would endure substantial change during its ten year life span. In 1978, Congress reauthorized CETA, but attached new rules, which included formation of the Private Industry Council (PIC) in each program area of operation.
CETA was replaced with the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) which went into effect October 1, 1983. The office was renamed Siskiyou Training and Employment Program (STEP) to give it a local label as allowed by the federal program. It remained on the college campus, however, and in 1983, the STEP office and the College jointly administered the Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium (NoRTEC) during the transition year from CETA to JTPA. The NoRTEC Joint Powers Authority (JPA) consortium included the counties of Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Tehama, Trinity, and Siskiyou.
At the conclusion of the transition period, the College and STEP turned NoRTEC operations over to a private agency in Butte County to avoid concerns of partiality. STEP remained a member of NoRTEC and continues to operate local programs for Siskiyou County.
The STEP office left the College campus in 1984 to form its own private, nonprofit corporation as a means to address the new focus brought about by JTPA. On May 16, 1985, the office officially became STEP, Inc. and continues operation to this day in Weed.
In 1988, a Yreka branch office was opened in order to better serve North County clients and businesses.
In 1989, a for profit subsidiary, STEP FORWARD Temporary Services was developed to help stabilize and diversify the corporate financial base of the company. The name was changed in 1991 to Personnel Preference in order to avoid confusion between the two entities. In Spring 1993, due to regulatory changes, the temporary services division was discontinued and the fixed assets sold. It is currently operating as a private business venture.
In 1996, STEP was instrumental in the formation of the Workforce Connection Collaborative. Other founding partners included: College of the Siskiyous, Employment Development Department, Siskiyou County Economic Development Council, Siskiyou County Human Services, and Siskiyou County Office of Education. One of the benefits to the county from this partnership has been the creation of the One-Stop Community Employment Centers located in North and South County.
The downturn in the timber industry and the economic revitalization efforts allowed through federal demonstration funding provided STEP with the opportunity to create an innovative natural resource training program focused on ecosystem and watershed restoration. Key partners in the development of this training were College of the Siskiyous and Siskiyou County Economic Development Council.
The success of this training program and community support led to the formation of the Northern California Ecosystem Training Center (NorCET) which was established as a division of STEP in 1998. As the demand on NorCET continued to increase and become more varied than STEP's employment and training mission allowed, a Board decision to close the division was approved as of October 2000. This action opened the door for a private for-profit company, Resource Management, to take over the work of NorCET.
The JTPA and its regulations were allowed to sunset in June 2000. Many of the employment and training provisions were incorporated into a new law, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which called for, among other things, one-stop comprehensive community services delivery. WIOA also allowed program operators to become more proactive in meeting the needs of the business community. At this point in time, Butte County and Shasta County joined the NoRTEC Joint Powers Authority (JPA) consortium.
Sierra County (in 2005) and Nevada County (in 2007) have since joined the NoRTEC Joint Powers Authority (JPA) consortium.
The Board of Directors of STEP, Inc. is the deliberative body that formulates policy for the agency. The Board is involved in strategic and financial planning for the agency and bears the ultimate responsibility for keeping the corporation solvent. Members of the Board serve in a voluntary capacity and represent diverse backgrounds as well as geographical areas of the county. The Board has the responsibility to hire and direct the Executive Director in carrying out the mission of the organization and the Board's policy decisions.
The agency is proud of its lengthy and varied history in Siskiyou County. Step's successful record in the delivery of services has afforded us the ability to access additional funding to better serve the citizens of Siskiyou County.