Cantwell: Keep job training

By:  Joel Connelly Seattle PI
Source: Seattle PI

With the Great Recession refusing to go away, and thousands looking for work, the budget axe hangs over or is falling on programs designed to equip job-seekers with new skills.

Washington’s community colleges suffered cuts in the recently passed state budget.  Now, the federal Workforce Investment Act faces deeper cuts to a program that has supplied money to train nearly 12,000 people in this state during the past year.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., up for re-election next year, toured a South Seattle Community College green jobs training class on Monday, and cited a bipartisan letter defending the act.

The letter, sent to Senate appropriators, reads in part:

“These critical programs help ensure that job seekers 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 though the publicly founded 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 loabor market for the first time.”

The budget deal between President Obama and House Republicans, reached in early spring, cut more than $1 billion from workforce training programs, including millions of dollars of grants to states.

“Workforce development is a smart investment for our economy,” said Cantwell.