It seems that everything is happening at one time. The last quarter has not been particularly pleasing for Workforce Essentials. It started with the Department of Education’s notification that they were eliminating their share of funding for the JTG program next year. It has continued to go downhill from there. USDOL issued draft allocations in March indicating that our WIA allocations may see as much as a $350,000 decrease. The change of leadership at the Department of Labor, along with the release of the State Audit, seemed to bring a barrage of questions that the press has been focusing on. However, nothing hurt more than the notification by the Department of Human Services that they were cutting our Families First program by 50%! Well, at least I thought nothing could hurt more……On April 19th, the Department of Labor announced the closing of 34 Career Centers across the state and the layoffs of 125 staff members. This announcement particularly effected Dickson, Robertson, Stewart and Williamson counties.
As always with Workforce Essentials, we elected to stare adversity in the face and make the necessary adjustments to continue on. Andrea has established an operating plan to move forward with Families First within the allocated budget. This does not come without the hardship of layoffs. Those of us that have been operating grant programs for some time know that uncertainty is a way of life, but it does not make it any easier.
We did experience some positive news with the WIA program. The State is stepping in and providing supplemental funding to assist with the budget deficit and limitations on first quarter funding. For this we are very grateful! The Jobs for American’s Graduates program has also stepped up to the plate to provide a small grant to help offset some of their budget cuts.
Not all is lost with the Career Center closures either. Our Board of Directors approved a plan to maintain WIA operations in the four counties that were affected by State layoffs. This ensures that job seekers and employers will have local access to career services and the Jobs4TN web site.
Business decisions are sometimes hard to make, but please know that the Board and leadership team are working hard to ensure that Workforce Essentials remains a healthy and viable company for our future.