For the past fifteen years your POWER Collaborative Network (PCN) has consistently worked with many of southern California’s national employment organizations. It is rewarding to help obtain favorable outcomes that effectively carry out employment opportunities and training activities for young and adult job seekers, dislocated workers, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. The shared goal is to deliver a community outreach service, encouraging collaboration and avoiding duplicate efforts, in order to maximize the impact of the employment activities.
On July 1, 2015, the Work Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed by President Obama last year, will officially take effect. The WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which also amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. There is a significant budget for the WIOA; set to disburse roughly over $20 billion through 2020 to national employment organizations, which we hope will help the people who need job/career placement support.
Effective workforce development activities often require a critical partner to help efficiently serve participants in gaining meaningful work. Our experience shows that having a major business partner(s) with hiring authority is necessary to achieve such outcomes. The WIOA is designed to encourage such relationships and help with increasing high-quality employment opportunities, work-relevant training and development appropriate to ‘in-demand’ industry sectors or occupations.
For example, the Long Beach City Council recently agreed to collaborate with the Microsoft Corporation to bring Digital Alliance programs to the City and its residents. Partnering with local governments, Microsoft provides staff expertise and capacity-building workshops designed to inspire young people as well as entrepreneurs.
Developing a bond with major businesses can serve to expand transparency in the identification of barriers and strengthen the means for removing such barriers. It is important to note that until a variety of barriers to employment are reduced or eliminated, all of the ongoing workforce investment activities, education, and supportive services will go underutilized.
For that reason, the WIOA recommends that agencies apply for grants specific for training English language learners whose native language is a language other than English. This component of the WIOA seeks to invest billions of dollars to help such individuals achieve competence in reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension of the English language, transition to post-secondary education and training; and/or sustainable employment.
In view of that, a barrier to equal employment opportunity practices can be considerably reduced. By increasing the number of English speaking job candidates will tear down an unprincipled practice of constructing homogeneous Spanish/Cantonese speaking workplaces, a horrific trend commonly connected to small/mid-sized southern California businesses.
Also critical to the WIOA is where it addresses the term ‘‘excess number’’ that is used with respect to the excess number of unemployed individuals within a State [1,180,400 people in California], and how that number represents the number of unemployed individuals, in excess of 4.5% of the civilian labor force in the State. This is a vital component to southern California since the unemployment rate far exceeds 4.5% for most groups, particularly teenagers and blacks, whose unemployment rates remain in double digits.
In summary, we extend best wishes toward your 2015 WIOA national employment implementation activities. It is hoped that our community outreach service will remain a continuous improvement to the greater Los Angeles area’s one-stop employment delivery system.
Dean L. Jones, CEO
The PCN routinely avails accessible and informative Internet websites that collaboratively publicize and efficiently convey socioeconomic development services (activities of service providers and employers, job recruitment, funding, training; on-the-job training, customized training, incumbent worker training, internships, and paid or unpaid work experience opportunities, transitional employment).