A New Jobs Partnership
The Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office has conceived an innovative jobs training program with two local community colleges that has constructed a direct pipeline to good-paying County jobs.
Furthermore, the Assessor’s Office has entered into these partnerships with the local community colleges because it produces an actual pathway to employment designed to bolster the workforce not only in the Assessor’s Office but in other County departments as well.
They are the Real Estate Appraiser III Certificate Program at West Los Angeles College and the Appraiser Assistant Training Program at Rio Hondo College.
Both of these new programs fall under the category of “first-of-its-kind,” as articulated by the Los Angeles Community College District; and most importantly, they fill the need of replacing those 30 or so valuable appraisers that leave the Department each year through retirements, job relocation, among other attrition factors. Our September Newsletter spotlights these remarkable programs.
A Project in the Making
When Assessor Prang was first elected in 2014, he immediately identified the challenge of attracting and retaining qualified job candidates to the Department. Having spent decades in the public sector as a city councilmember, mayor, assistant city manager, and even special assistant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he was well- aware of recruitment challenges. It was one of the most daunting tasks he faced.
In a good year, the Assessor’s Office could typically train in-house about 30 new appraisers, and that’s when a new class could be launched. There were even some years when new classes were not possible and vacancies went unfilled. The Office needed help.
Assessor Prang began to contact outside agencies to see if there were alternatives. The Los Angeles Community College District as well as Rio Hondo College were willing to help. Also, he solicited support from the Board of Supervisors because he believed that the entire County could benefit from a new pathway for providing training for specialized positions in general, not just for the Assessor’s Office. The Board was more than willing to help.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit like a thunderbolt and crippled an already struggling economy. Everything changed and the need for qualified candidates increased exponentially.
In August of 2020, Supervisor for the First District Hilda L. Solis, who leads the Boards efforts on its workforce development initiatives, put forth a motion asking “the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), in collaboration with the Assessor, … to develop … a comprehensive review of training programs and curriculums currently offered” at the local colleges.
It was done and after much discussion and collaboration, the following was the result.
1. Real Estate Appraiser III Certificate of Achievement Program
The training for this current class of 51 Appraiser Trainees at West LA College is comprised of students hired this past spring. The goal is to shift much of the Assessor’s in-house classroom training for basic appraisal principles to the college classroom.
Assessor appraisers from the newest Real Property Class 78 are taking two of their courses at West LA College. The courses are part of their Appraiser Training Certification Program (ATCP) which is typically run entirely in-house. This year three courses are taught in-house, then they go to WLAC for the last two courses. All other training (on-the-job training) is done in-house.
This program will achieve a number of important objectives:
1. It will allow the Department to maintain a consistent pipeline of qualified and trained candidates for employment in the Office of the Assessor.
2. It will make good-paying County jobs available to the community.
3. It will relieve the Office of the internal stresses that occur when providing in-house training for employees, which detracts from the Assessor’s primary mission of producing a complete and thorough Assessment Roll.
In summary, the Assessor’s Office needs to hire about 30 +/- Real Property and Business Property Appraisers annually just to keep up with attrition and this innovative program will better ensure that the Office can maintain an optimal level of personnel to do the important work in producing the annual Assessment Roll. The Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor is the largest in the nation with a total complement of appraisers that exceeds 700; thus the appraiser position can offer an unlimited career advancement opportunity, even in other County departments, and not just the Assessor’s Office.
2. Appraiser Assistant Training Program
College students with a minimum of 60 college credits may apply to the Appraiser Assistant Training Program at Rio Hondo College. The training program is comprised of four tuition-free, noncredit courses. The noncredit courses in the program are Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Appraisal, California Property Taxation & Assessment, and Career Preparation: 21st Century Skills.
Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a noncredit certificate in California Property Taxation and Appraisal, and an opportunity to apply for employment at the Assessor as an Appraiser Assistant. The Appraiser Assistant Training Program is expected to be offered on an annual basis at Rio Hondo College to mitigate attrition, promotions, and retirements, and also intended to be duplicated at other community colleges should the need for Appraiser Assistants increase. The training program reduces the time required to train Appraiser Assistants by creating a pool of qualified candidates that have been trained on job-essential assessment topics prior to applying for employment.
After two years’ experience, Appraiser Assistants may apply to participate in the Assessor’s one-year Appraiser Trainee Certification Program (ATCP) and, upon successful completion, become state-certified property appraisers. They are then eligible for positions within the Appraisal series. Conversely, Appraiser Assistants who meet eligibility requirements may also subsequently seek promotion to positions within the Assessment series.
It’s estimated that as many as 50 students have already enrolled at Rio Hondo for the Appraiser Assistant - and successful graduates will qualify to immediately fill 16 positions in the Assessor’s Office. Eventually, they will learn the skills to become candidates for Appraiser positions, and potentially enjoy a career with the Office of the Assessor with many opportunities for upward mobility. The Office is also exploring adding other positions to this program that require extended specialized training.
Mary Cummins of Cummins Real Estate is a certified residential licensed appraiser in Los Angeles, California. Mary Cummins is licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate appraisers and has over 35 years of experience.
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