Southern Nevadans Oppose Plan To Eliminate Local Workforce Development Board

CARSON CITY – Representatives and supporters of the Clark County workforce investment board today strongly opposed a plan being pushed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to consolidate the two local boards in an effort to make more money available to train the unemployed.

At a public hearing on Sandoval’s proposal, Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, read a letter opposing the plan, called  “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan For Excellence in Workforce Development.”

He was joined by other speakers, including René Cantú Jr., executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, and Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, in opposing the consolidation proposal.

“Workforce Connections staff and board are responsive to the needs of local funded partners, and understand our community and our clients, and our own challenges of Southern Nevada nonprofits,” Cantú said. “Ardell Galbreth, interim director, has provided the Latin Chamber Foundation with tremendous commitment of support and here in the south they understand us and are committed to helping us.”

There is an overwhelming consensus in Southern Nevada that consolidation would threaten funding to groups like the Latin Chamber foundation, he said.

Job training tour by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. / Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Labor.

“There’s also an overwhelming consensus that such a move would lead to less sensitivity to local needs, that it would skew funding north, that it would allow (the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitiation (DETR), to allot the funds arbitrarily and without accountability to the community, clients or funded partners,” Cantú said. “Based on these considerations I would ask, respectfully, that the boards be allowed to remain as they are.”

There is a need for reform, and Galbreth is moving in that direction, he said.

Boulware said people in the local community know best what their needs are.

“And what we don’t need, with all due respect to the state and to the governor, are people from outside of our local community telling us what we need and where we need to spend our money,” he said.

The NAACP will be opposing the proposed consolidation at all levels, Boulware said.

DETR officials heard public comment but took no immediate action on the proposal.

Currently, funding is provided from the federal Department of Labor to the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and funneled to two local boards, one in Southern Nevada and the other in Northern Nevada. These boards in turn contract with public and private organizations to offer workforce training programs to youth and adults and dislocated workers.

Sandoval is moving forward with the consolidation plan following an audit of Workforce Connections that showed excessive spending on administration and other costs.

Galbreth, who took over leadership of the agency in April, said last month in  response to the audit that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs.

In announcing the plan to change the operation of the boards, Sandoval said: “This new plan calls for greater collaboration between workforce development and the newly restructured Governor’s Office Economic Development, which earlier this year released its plan under the ‘Moving Nevada Forward’ label as well. A key area of focus for my administration is building the type of trained workforce that will support economic diversification.”

Organizations currently contracted as service providers to citizens for workforce needs will continue in the same capacity, but will be managed by DETR staff instead of the northern and southern board offices. Federal funding designated for each of the local workforce investment areas will remain unchanged; no geographic area of the state gains or loses under the reorganization and existing providers can remain in place if they are delivering the appropriate level of service to the end-user.

The audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review found. The audit showed Workforce Connections spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

Sandoval is seeking to finalize the consolidation by the end of this year.

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Audio clips:

René Cantú Jr., the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, says Workforce Connections is responsive to the needs of the community:

061112Cantu1 :21 to helping us.”

Cantú Jr. says there are concerns that consolidation will skew funding to the north:

061112Cantu2 :26 as they are.”

Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, says local officials know best how to help the community:

061112Boulware :13 spend our money.”