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June 14, 2017

By Peter Callstrom, CEO, San Diego Workforce Partnership

The idea of “workforce development week” by the Trump administration sounds promising…on the surface. However, the President’s proposed budget plan includes a 40% cut in funding. That is not a typo. This is not a cut. This is absurd. This is an evisceration of a system that works.

Funding for workforce development has already been reduced by $1 billion since 2010. Cutting further is counterintuitive and would be devastating to millions of job seekers around the country. Many of those impacted would be our most vulnerable, at-risk and underrepresented.

The President is focusing his workforce training message and dollars on the apprenticeship model. We support promoting apprenticeships as a workforce strategy—this was championed by the Obama administration and works. We have worked hard to advance this approach, among other proven programs, for many years.

We completely disagree with the administration’s claim that the federally funded workforce system is inefficient. It is too easy to paint with a broad brush and imply that the system doesn’t work. This is fake news. More programs does not equal inefficiency. Diverse programs are necessary—one size does not fit all. The workforce system is an effective, high performing and highly accountable system.

The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) administers around $33 million in workforce funds annually—the majority of which is from the federal government—to serve our entire county. Our budget is also comprised of investments by the County and City of San Diego, as well as the private sector and philanthropy. We then fund numerous community-based organizations throughout our county who in turn provide regionally-focused job training programs. Our funded partners deliver results, or they lose their funding—that is accountability. In addition, we conduct ongoing labor market research and use that information to align funding priorities to build our workforce to serve diverse populations and to meet the unique needs of our employers.

Last year, through a wide variety of targeted and efficient programs, our impact and successes improved lives every day: 70,000 individuals served, more than 150,000 services provided and 165,000 visits to our network of 14 career center locations (including two in jails). This is workforce development—efficient and accountable.

Thanks to many programs funded and delivered by SDWP, thousands of San Diegans acquire new skills and get good jobs. We close the skills gap and put people to work. Every single day. Our local employers get skilled workers and our economy and society benefits in innumerable ways.

Our workforce system is a lifeline to thousands, many of whom face significant barriers to employment. The broad range of services offered enables job seekers to develop new skills and advance in their career. We serve displaced workers. We serve young adults entering the workforce and people at every stage of their career. This is workforce development—diverse programs that serve people.

Federal training and employment services help millions of unemployed and underemployed individuals around our great country, including over 1.1 million people a year in California alone. If this misguided budget is enacted, 400,000 California residents would lose access to services that help them find work or acquire the skills needed to succeed. Unemployment will spike, the gap will grow, and our society will suffer.

This return on investment is realized in other training programs that help unemployed workers, seniors, young people, people with disabilities, justice-involved people, people with lived experience with mental illness, veterans and others who are struggling to enter or return to the workforce. Job training programs provide not only hope, but real results that empower millions of workers to achieve a brighter future. Smart public investment with regional partners equals success for workers and businesses alike.

Budgets reflect our nation’s priorities and values. The smart way to make America great again is to support our entire workforce so that everyone can maximize their potential and contribute to our economy. President Trump…investing in our workforce is the best investment that government can make. Cuts hurt people. Investing in people changes lives. We need more funding, not the devastating cuts proposed. Support the thousands of job seekers who depend upon us. This is workforce development—a system that works.

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