Jun 13 2011
Cantwell joins WA business leaders to call for continued investment in skill training programs for 21st century jobs
SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Puget Sound business leaders in calling for continued investment in job training programs that put Washingtonians back to work and provide Washington state businesses with the skilled talent they need to stay competitive in a 21st century economy.
In a bipartisan letter sent Friday, Sen. Cantwell called on Senate Appropriators to continue investment in Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs. WIA, which faces potential funding cuts in the FY2012 budget, funds critical job training programs in Washington state that trained nearly 12,000 people searching for work during the last program year.
“Workforce development is a smart investment for our economy,” Cantwell said. “The Workforce Investment Act helps thousands of businesses find the skilled workforce they need, and these job training programs help equip thousands of Washington state workers with in-demand skills for 21st century jobs. This is not the time to be cutting investment in successful programs key to putting people back to work. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for investment in these jobs programs in Washington, D.C.”
Cantwell toured a South Seattle Community College green jobs training class Monday afternoon, along with David Allen, Executive Vice President of McKinstry, and Linda Lanham, Executive Director at Aerospace Futures Alliance, and Marlena Sessions, CEO of the Workforce Development Council in Seattle-King County.
During the last program year, from July 2009 to June 2010, nearly 210,000 Washingtonians were served by WIA-funded programs, and nearly 12,000 received skills training. Also during this program year, participation went up 211 percent as more people found themselves looking for work in a down economy. Washington state’s 12 WorkSource Centers, which are funded by the Workforce Investment Act, helped 78 percent of jobseekers coming through their doors find a job. Last year, WorkSource served over 5,000 businesses – a 45 percent increase from 2009 – to connect them with the skilled workers they need. Nationally, out of eight million who utilized these resources, 4.3 million found jobs.
In the letter sent Friday to Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), who serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Cantwell and her colleagues wrote: “In light of our tenuous economic recovery, additional cuts to these important programs would undermine workforce preparedness and long-term economic growth. Cutting funding to these programs would significantly limit our nation’s ability to support and train individuals to reengage in the workforce, impact employers’ abilities to find highly-skilled workers, and undermine our economic competitiveness.”
Cantwell has long fought against cuts to the WIA and has been a consistent advocate for workforce development training in industries as diverse as clean energy technology, health care information-technology, and aerospace training to advance Washington’s 21st century economy.
Soon after taking office, Cantwell passed legislation as part of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill creating the FAA’s first advanced aviation materials research center. Established in 2003 at the University of Washington, the Center for Excellence for Advanced Materials for Transportation Aviation Structures leads the industry’s research of advanced aviation materials, such as composites and aluminum alloys, for use in future aircraft. In 2001, Cantwell also helped land initial funding to help grow a training program in advanced aviation materials started in the late 90s at Edmonds Community College. Since then, several other training programs at the state level have spun off from these initial programs and are currently helping to produce skilled aviation workers for the state and nation using state and federal funds.
The full letter is available below:
Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Shelby:
While we recognize the challenges presented by our current fiscal environment, we urge you to restore funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Employment Services, and the Perkins Career and Technical Education programs to FY10 levels in the FY 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
These critical programs help ensure that jobseekers and employers can access the skills they need to rebuild our nation’s economy and provide for our future competitiveness. In 2009, more than 8 million adults and youth received training and related services through the publicly-funded workforce investment programs, a 234-percent increase in participation between 2007 and 2009. The individuals assisted by these programs include dislocated workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, returning veterans, low-skilled adults lacking the basic skills necessary to compete in the 21st-Century economy, and young adults struggling to enter the labor market for the first time. Millions more participated in career and technical education, adult education, and other workforce programs that will put them on the path to well-paying jobs and careers.
However, despite strong and rising demand for federally-funded workforce development services, the FY 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act cut more than $1 billion from these programs, including $300 million in cuts to state formula grants under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act, nearly $140 million in cuts to Career and Technical Education state grants, and more than $30 million for adult education programs.
In light of our tenuous economic recovery, additional cuts to these important programs would undermine workforce preparedness and long-term economic growth. Cutting funding to these programs would significantly limit our nation’s ability to support and train individuals to reengage in the workforce, impact employers’ abilities to find highly-skilled workers, and undermine our economic competitiveness. Rather, we should focus efforts on improving the workforce system through reauthorization of key programs such as the Workforce Investment Act, ensuring that workforce programs are updated to meet local and regional labor market demands.
Thank you for considering this important request.