Skills Shortages Impact Ability to Find Adequate Workforce; Here is One of the Solutions

Skills Shortages Impact Ability to Find Adequate Workforce; Here is One of the Solutions
By Gary Wartik
January 15, 2013

Across the nation, in fact across much of the world, unemployment remains stubbornly high, especially among young people without college degrees, and in many cases without high school diplomas.  At the same time industry leaders complain about a lack of qualified workers.  The complaints range from job applicants lacking basic language skills, computer skills or the ability to read and then follow directions to those who have no idea how to act on the job or what a full workday is all about.   The good news is that the federal government has long recognized the problem and, in the current calendar year, allocated some $454 million to California, through the Workforce Investment Act (“WIA”) to provide services for adults, laid-off workers, and youth to help turn untrained people into desirable employee candidates.

The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which replaced the Job Training Partnership Act in 2012, offers a comprehensive range of workforce development activities that can benefit job seekers, laid off workers, youth, incumbent workers, new entrants to the workforce, veterans, persons with disabilities, and employers.

The purpose of these activities is to promote an increase in the employment, job retention, earnings, and occupational skills improvement by those who are trained. This, in turn, improves the quality of the workforce, reduces welfare dependency, and improves the productivity and competitiveness of the nation.

California is divided into 49 regions that serve to implement the requirements of the WIA.  Each region is represented by a Workforce Investment Board (“WIB”) appointed by the county board of supervisors of the area(s) served.  I served on the Workforce Investment Board-Ventura County from 2007 to 2011 and came to recognize, from the inside, the benefits of the federal program.

The program works most effectively when an employer locates worthy job applicants that show promise of benefiting from job training and then enrolling them in an On-the-Job Training program funding by the WIB.  OJT support is designed to offset the cost of training for employers who take the time to train WIA job seekers in skills necessary to perform work in their companies. The no-fee service assists companies in meeting their training and recruitment needs and reimburses up to one-half of the trainee’s gross wages for a negotiated period of time (determined by the skill level and required training). The OJT program is available through Ventura County’s Job & Career Centers, a partner of the America’s Job Center of California network, and throughout the California.  Employers seeking support for recruitment, retention, or layoffs are encouraged to contact a local Job and Career Center or Workforce Investment Board office for additional information.  This may be first step in closing the gap between the need for trained employees and actually meeting the need.

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