Mission and History of CET

UFW leader Cesar Chavez with Center for Employment Training leadership

In a cooperative family-like atmosphere in early 1967, Anthony Soto , Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, asked Ramona Srinana to lead a group in prayer. The group was meeting to plan the creation of a program… They spoke of self-help, self-determination, and the phrase ‘Si Se Puede’ (It can be done).

-Jose Jiminez, CET 15 years and We're Just Beginning


The Mission of CET, an economic and community development corporation, is to promote human development and education by providing people marketable skills training and supportive services that contribute to self-sufficiency.

CET is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is dedicated to fighting poverty and dependence on public aid by making quality skill training available to adults of all educational levels and backgrounds, especially those most in need and hardest to serve.


CET believes in the dignity of the individual and that each individual has a right to a job that will pay enough to fulfill basic human needs. CET's program is designed to help people overcome their barriers by integrating workplace and life skill development. Each student is viewed as an individual with unique aspirations, abilities and needs.


Center for Employment Training (CET) was founded in 1967 amidst a time of heightened political and socio-economic activism across the nation. A group of concerned citizens—including founders Father Anthony Soto and Russell Tershy—organized to establish a job-training center for the working poor and low-income residents of the barrio “Sal Si Puedes” in East San Jose, California.

In its early years, CET’s target population was mainly migrant and seasonal farm workers, who were suffering with inhumane job conditions and low wages. The goal was to prepare these workers for stable, full-time, permanent jobs in industry. Over the past four decades, success with agricultural workers motivated the organization to expand its focus to include other disadvantaged populations across the nation, including:

  • Welfare Recipients (CalWorks, TANF)
  • High School Dropouts/Unemployed Youth
  • Unemployed Seniors (55-62)
  • Displaced Workers
  • Disabled Workers
  • Refugees & Immigrants
  • Minority Single Female Heads of Household
  • Homeless
  • Ex-Offenders & Parolees
  • Veterans

Over time, CET gained a national reputation for exceptional outcomes. In comparison to other training programs, CET showed higher job placement rates, higher earnings gains, and higher retention rates. In recognition of this documented success, in 1990, the first President George Bush awarded CET funds to replicate its model in other states. The organization currently has 17 centers in five states, with affiliate programs in four more states. CET’s unique and human model has also succeeded in other countries. International CET centers have been opened in Belize and Chile.