Posts Tagged ‘workforce development’

State Workforce Consolidation Plan Gains Support From Northern Nevada Elected Officials

By Sean Whaley | 3:35 pm June 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Local elected officials representing the Northern Nevada workforce development agency have endorsed a plan to restructure the delivery of job training funds to Nevadans, including eliminating the two local boards now involved in the process.

The 13 local elected officials who oversee the northern agency, called Nevadaworks, have unanimously endorsed the consolidation plan put forward by Frank R. Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). If approved, the changes are expected to free up $5 million for job training that is now consumed by administrative costs incurred by the two local boards.

“On behalf of the local elected officials of the 13 Northern Nevada counties represented by Nevadaworks, please accept this letter in support of your agency’s plan,” said Norman Frey, chairman of the Nevadaworks board and a Churchill County commissioner, in a letter sent to Woodbeck on June 11.

The statewide Governor’s Workforce Investment Board has also unanimously supported the consolidation plan, which will require a waiver from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Elected officials representing the Southern Nevada workforce agency, called Workforce Connections, are opposing the consolidation effort, however, citing concerns over local control and the potential loss of job training funds in the south.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is strongly in support of the consolidation effort

In an Op-ed column published earlier this month in the Nevada Appeal, he said the plan will not change the structure of the workforce investment areas (one north and one south); and will not change the allocation of funding to the areas, which is set by the Department of Labor.

“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,” he said. “A key area of focus for my administration is building the type of trained workforce that will support economic diversification.”

Woodbeck said he is pursing the consolidation, outlined in a plan called “Moving Nevada Forward – A Plan for Excellence in Workforce Development” in part because of excessive administrative costs identified in audits of Workforce Connections.

The most recent audit, performed by the state Division of Internal Audits, found that Workforce Connections spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

But it is also about efficiency and linking job training with the state’s new plan for economic diversification and job growth, he said.

Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections since April, has testified that he has made numerous spending reductions at the agency as a result of the audit, including eliminating staff and reducing several six-figure salaries.

Woodbeck said the consolidation plan calls for significant change

Woodbeck said in a telephone interview today that he would like to have the support of both local boards in seeking the waiver from the Department of Labor, but that he will move forward regardless. The wavier will be filed July 1 along with the state’s plan, with a decision expected by the fall.

“Efficiency and effectiveness is really what we’re trying to achieve here,” Woodbeck said. “And it is a change in the system. And when you change anything, people get a little nervous about that.”

The two local boards have been in existence since the Workforce Investment Act was signed into law in 1998.

The consolidation, if approved, will still keep local elected officials involved in the process, including representation on the governor’s board and on the seven Industry Sector Councils created as part of Sandoval’s overall economic diversification and development strategy, he said.

“So it’s really a transferring of the expertise, essentially,” Woodbeck said. “To either the governor’s board or to the Industry Sector Councils. And in fact the governor has agreed to expand the number of local elected officials on the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board. So they will really be the oversight folks and they will have four local elected officials on there from various regions.”

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 adult and dislocated workers.

Funding would continue to flow to these public and private organizations under the new consolidation plan.

The U.S. Department of Labor provided about $29.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to Nevada for the programs that are intended to help improve the employability of participants, including both youth and adults.

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Audio clips:

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck says change is not always easy:

062012Woodbeck1 :10 nervous about that.”

Woodbeck says Gov. Brian Sandoval has agreed to expand local elected representation on the state investment board:

062012Woodbeck2 :26 from various regions.”

Southern Nevadans Oppose Plan To Eliminate Local Workforce Development Board

By Sean Whaley | 12:00 pm June 11th, 2012

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.”