Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Not All Bad...

Despite all the negative media attention the City Council garnered last week (check it out at:Post Local, the Examiner, WAMU, and GGW) there were a number of decisions made in the last days before summer recess began that weren't negative at all! So instead of dwelling on the bad, let’s focus on some definite good that came out of the re-shuffling effort.

First off, DCAYA applauds the Council’s decision to put the University of the District of Columbia and the Community College under the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development. This move will go a long way in aligning the city’s efforts around creating and sustaining a workforce that is in- demand and well prepared for a continued presence in our local labor market. Both UDC and CCDC, will have an expanded role in preparing District residents for meaningful employment. By placing the oversight functions for these two educational institutions under the committee that is responsible for the oversight of all employment activities, the Council is taking a step in the right direction.

Second, the emergency legislation passed that establishes a Workforce Intermediary Taskforce is GREAT NEWS for the District! DCFPI, DC Appleseed and a few other workforce advocates did an issue brief earlier this year on the need for a workforce intermediary in the District and DCAYA could not agree more, that creating a city jobs broker is a highly beneficial step for the District. Workforce intermediaries take many forms, but as the above issue brief mentions their function as a "jobs broker" that connects employers with job seekers is absolutely essential in moving District residents towards a lasting presence in the labor market.

An effective intermediary in DC will have a positive effect on all areas of employment, but has especially promising outcomes for youth employment if done correctly. When employers' expectations are reflected in the types of training and educational opportunities that the city offers to District residents, those residents are likely to find long-term success in the labor market. This is an important part of connecting adults to careers that can hopefully be sustained through the rest of their working lives. However, the District has much to gain by ensuring that youth are also well served by the Workforce Intermediary.

Currently only 62% of DC students graduated from High School within four years, and as of 2009, over 14,000 young people in the District (ages of 16 - 24) were neither enrolled in school nor employed. Given these figures, it isn't all that surprising that FY'11 budget data indicated that more than 4,500 of DC TANF recipients were between the ages of 18 and 25. Connecting the city's young people to viable employment options early on in their working lives will increase the likelihood that they maintain consistent employment into adulthood and will secure the District’s overall future economic vitality.

Passing legislation that mandates the creation of an intermediary that will someday help aid in the goal of achieving better youth employment outcomes was a positive decision by the Council.The politics of the District can be an endless of web of confusion, hype and drudgery if we allow them to be, but it’s important to recognize the good things that happen and give credit when credit is due. The Council’s decision to place two of DC's most valuable resources under the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development and the passage of emergency legislation to create a Workforce Intermediary Task Force are decisions that are surelya step in the right direction.

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