Thursday, October 3, 2013
Opponents to the bill—known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act—felt the criteria placed on particular larger corporations was unfair and likely to keep businesses out of D.C., while supporters pointed to the increasing difficulty for area residents to make ends meet considering D.C.’s low-wage employment.
The bill has drawn some attention, and some intense discourse, from quarters across the country. The debate over the need to increase jobs as a means to stimulate the economy versus the quality of life that these low-wage jobs will ultimately offer has sparked impassioned sentiments with the benefits of employers and employees being put at odds.
The topic of minimum wage has been one that continues to make headlines around the country (as monitored by KRA Corporation in earlier posts). President Obama has come out strongly in favor of raising the Federal minimum wage, calling on Congress to do so, stating that “no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.”
Minimum wage increases continue to raise concerns about how business will be negatively impacted and that it can have the same job-killing results that Mayor Gray quoted.
Department of Labor Secretary, Tom Perez— who has championed the cause of raising the minimum wage since taking office—used the official blog Work in Progress, to address those concerns and to believing that an increase represents a “fair shake” and a vision that “the middle class is within reach no matter who you are or where you come from.”
Furthering discourse, and/or at the very least heightening awareness, regarding the plight of those living on minimum wage in an attempt to move closer toward employment-and-earning equality is a position that KRA Corporation fully endorses.
Despite Mayor Gray's veto, as an organization operating two TANF Employment Programs for the D.C. Department of Human Services, KRA's Corporations's mission continues to be rooted in preparing D.C job seekers for tomorrow’s global economy, and supplying area employers with a trained and reliable workforce. Our efforts in D.C workforce development remain committed to improving the lives of individuals and their communities.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Two opinion pieces, from Robert Ketchum, PhD and economist Robert Lerman, on Paul Solman’s The Business Desk webpage, point to the growing need to explore employer-provided skills-training like Apprenticeship and On-the-Job-Training (OJT) opportunities in more depth to address this issue.
Opinions between the two contributors differ slightly. Solman quotes Lerman as stating that: “We need trainable workers who can adapt to a changing economy, but are often faced with employers who will not bear the cost of employee training.” He believes that the responsibility resides within the government structure to at least take heed of the successes of the Apprenticeship and OJT programs from highly industrialized European nations and provide increased funding and support to companies and organizations who offer apprenticeships.
Ketchum’s tack is slightly different than that of Lerman. He believes that the onus resides with employers themselves and not on the government to prepare future workers for the workforce, stating: “why are companies convinced that government will or should solve their training needs?” He agrees that Apprenticeships are a potential solution, but his assertion is that “employers should take responsibility to develop and manage their own knowledge and skills.”
He proffers Professor Ron Jacobs’ principle of Structured On-The-Job Training (SOJT). He believes that SOJT, “a planned process of developing competence on units of work by having an experienced employee train a novice employee at the work setting or a location that closely resembles the work setting,” could provide the bridge between screen learning and OJT learning as a way to acquire requisite skills.
Opinions on “how” differ slightly; however, the tenor of both is that our youth are becoming increasingly disadvantaged when entering the workforce. Lacking the type of applicable Occupational Skills Training (OST) and/or “soft skills” development that employers can utilize, they are either hamstrung by the tertiary education price tag, lack of education (and/or job skills training), no prospects, or a combination of all of them.
Youth unemployment and underemployment is a workforce challenge on which KRA Corporation has focused its resources for many years through WIA-funded In-School and Out-of-School Youth Services Programs. From New Jersey to South Carolina, KRA’s Youth Employability and Success (YES) Programs support youth education, training, and employment through an extensive mix of services: intensive case management; group/individual career counseling and planning; short-term pre-vocational services; and formal employability and work-maturity skills training.
Workplace-readiness services include interest, math, and reading assessments; GED preparation; soft-skills development; and job application and interviewing skills. YES Programs recruit and partner with local public- and private-sector employers to develop jobs and/or specialized skills-development opportunities, including Apprenticeships, Community Work Experience, OJT, OST, and entrepreneurship training.
KRA Corporation will continue to prepare our youth job seekers for tomorrow’s global economy and to supply employers with a trained and reliable workforce. (For a full line-up of Youth Services clients and programs, please go to: http://www.kra.com/services/wia-youth/)
The latest series of grants is a continuing countrywide attempt to use tertiary education facilities (community colleges and universities) to develop and expand innovative occupational skills training (OST) programs for those unemployed workers affected by foreign trade.
These programs, part of the multiyear Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, are being developed in collaboration with area employers that represent industries of growth.
This round of funding is also earmarked to expand the partnerships, incorporating work-based training aimed at blending on-the-job training (OJT) with the types of practical application of skills that particular industries seek from workers.
The notion of targeted OJT is gaining increased attention from many quarters with experts like Robert Lerman and Robert Ketchum, PhD (which KRA Corporation highlighted in a recent post) insisting that OJT programs and apprenticeships should be more deeply explored by both government and employers alike in developing pertinent job skills.
The “ladder of opportunity” has been a recurring theme used by DOL’s Secretary, Tom Perez. While speaking about the grants to the Front Range Community College in Westminster, CO, he again stressed the importance of skills and training in helping to stimulate the economy.
He states: “Helping people acquire new skills and access new training programs allows them to climb ladders of opportunity to secure a foothold in the middle class. Building human capital in this way is one key way to accelerate the recovery and unleash the economy's full potential.”
Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, furthered the sentiment by insisting that workforce competitiveness will come from updated requisite skills, but that employer partnerships are an important part of program development success.
Secretary Pritzker stated: "For America's workforce to be competitive in the 21st century, our workers must possess the skills employers need for their businesses to succeed. That is why employers should partner with educational institutions and government to help develop curriculum and credentialing programs at the local level."
KRA Corporation is an active provider of demand-driven OJT and OST programs that meet specific employer- and labor-market needs, allowing our business customers to hire and train individuals, thus creating qualified workers for their own businesses and others in the community. A few examples include:
- The multi-site San Diego Metro Region One-Stop Career Center Program, funded through WIA, provides regional employers that have specific workforce requirements a full range of OJT and OST options.
- The TANF Employment Program in Washington, DC, provides OST for customers in need of intensive job-readiness preparation to meet local labor-market demands.
- The Waccamaw Region, SC, One-Stop Program, funded through WIA, adheres to a sector-driven strategy, targeting service businesses in high-growth industries, and tailoring OJT and OST services to the needs of employers in the Region.
- The TANF-funded Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare Program, for which KRA is routinely recognized for its positive Work Participation Rate by FEP, the State’s Full Employment Program, is a customized OST operation under which employers define their workforce needs and KRA provides qualified candidates to participate in OJTs to meet those needs.
KRA Corporation remains steadfastly in favor of legislative, policy, and program creation that provide services targeted to the needs of our jobseeker-customers and the demands of our employer-customers, thereby enhancing jobseeker skills and widening employer access to a qualified, competitive labor pool.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A recent post in the Work in Progress (co-authored by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker) discussed a joint office visit to the Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) campus to hear from key employer and training stakeholders about “the importance of skills training as both a workforce development and an economic development imperative.”
AACC has helped to coordinate efforts of numerous workforce entities to develop certificate programs aimed at arming workers with the training they will need to enter region-specific high-volume job openings.
These continued efforts on behalf of the workforce are an endeavor that KRA Corporation applauds. AACC’s initiatives in helping to further the scope of workforce development and creating opportunities to aid workers in entering into the workforce with the requisite skill set, is vital to future successes.
The burgeoning need to adopt new ideas and to look at potential alternatives to solving workforce issues is something that KRA Corporation recently highlighted in a post. It explores the opinions of two different viewpoints regarding the necessity for increased efforts by government and/or employers to start providing the type of training that will better allow employees to succeed while ensuring their companies’ successes.
The co-authored article mirrors this call to action, positing that greater involvement by business and industry is needed. It argues that employers should begin to bear the burden of skills development, too, stating: “Because a skilled workforce directly impacts our ability to keep the economy growing and businesses strong, we need employers to be actively involved in skills development.”
The article calls for increased collaboration in skill development to speed up the ability to adapt to changing needs—a factor that suits both the employer’s and the employee’s better purposes—and increases the chance for each party’s future success. Indeed, the article talked about the growing need for cooperation and joint initiatives between different federal departments to ensure that “every American has the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.”
KRA Corporation appreciates the foresight shown by the Laor and Commerce Departments in recognizing the need for skill development and their willingness to utilize resources to keep development progressing into the future as well as aiding workers to be competitive in a changing workforce environment.
With more than 30 years' experience in developing and implementing programs and initiatives, KRA Corporation understands the breadth and scale of the work and effort that goes into creating new opportunities. It is why we appreciate both the energy and the importance of these programs. We hope for the successful implementation of these strategies and look forward to them improving the lives of individuals and strengthening the communities in which we live.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
KRA Corporation takes at look at how Labor Secretary Thomas Perez used his address at the AFL-CIO 27th Constitutional Convention in Los Angeles, CA to reiterate his position of advocating for the creation of a strong and unified workforce in his recent address while addressing some of the other issues facing his office.
During his speech, Secretary Perez expressed described the labor movement as “one of our greatest forces for middle-class economic security.” He posited that a functioning labor movement—something he believes “has come under withering attack in recent years”—has a concrete and real connection to a healthy middle class.
He also expressed the need for a “dynamic and empowered labor movement” as a vital component if the U.S.’s economy is to “grow from the middle.”
The Secretary’s vantage point is one that KRA Corporation fully appreciates and his impassioned “pursuit of basic fairness and opportunity for everyone” is something we continually work towards. We have advocated for all workers’ rights and have sought means—both through policy and practice—to create a level playing field for employees, employers, and their communities.
The Secretary, who has spent his career as a workplace and earning equality advocate, also insisted that the e U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has a responsibility to build “ladders of opportunity with sturdy rungs that all people can reach.” He continued by insisting that developing and implementing of the types of competitive skills that benefit both employer and employee into the future are a necessity.
As an organization committed to improving the skills market and having worked towards providing the opportunities the Secretary speaks of to underserved and low-income populations, KRA Corporation is heartened to hear that our mission and the one Secretary Perez are in line with one another.
Another point the Secretary also reaffirmed was his view that Congress should raise the Federal minimum wage, stating: “hard-working people who put in 40 hours a week and take responsibility for themselves and their families should not live in poverty.”
KRA Corporation has highlighted this stance in a previous post and we see this as an important step toward equity in workforce development and employment to help improve the lives of individuals and strengthen communities.
Secretary Perez closed his speech by highlighting of the impending work and challenges of the DOL. Mentioning immigration reform, an equitable pay-scale for women, workplace safety, and protection of underserved communities, it is clear that he has set a high bar for his office. In facing his challenges, KRA Corporation and its dedicated team looks forward to working with the Secretary.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
KRA Corporation examines the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recent award of a two-state Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program grants and how they stands to benefit Mississippi (through program implementation) and New York (by enhancing the existing program) respectively.
The additional funding for the SEA program was provided through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. It effectively expanded to program to aid Dislocated Workers in their own job creation by allowing them to launch a small businesses while drawing a self-employed allowance in lieu of normal Unemployment Insurance.
The allowance (or the same weekly amount as the worker’s regular UI benefits) provides the buffer so that eligible program participants have the space and security to be able to get their own business off the ground thereby ensuring future full-time employment.
The grants of almost $2.5 million ($2,335, 270) are to be divided between Mississippi and New York. Mississippi will join Delaware, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island as an active SEA state, receiving $356,271 of the grant to start it up. The fund is has been earmarked to develop, implement, and administer a permanent program, identifying businesses, nonprofit and government organization partnerships.
Active SEA program state, New York, will receive the lion share of the grant to enhance its existing program to: ” improve customer service and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations by teaching participants how to complete applications, certifications, benchmark forms and surveys online.”
Helping Dislocated Workers re-enter the workforce featured frequently on the DOL’s to do list lately. A recent grant of $58 million in state infusion funds was passed to promote long-term unemployed Dislocated Workers training programs (which KRA Corporation highlighted in a recent post Getting Dislocated Workers Back to Work).
Eric M. Seleznow, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training foresees the move as being the passage for future job opportunities, too. He was quoted as saying that it would help “unemployed residents create their own jobs and eventually start hiring employees of their own,” as well as “form their own businesses while potentially boosting economic activity in the state.”
The importance of aiding Dislocated Workers is something that KRA Corporation fully appreciates. Offering critical services like trainings linking customers to job opportunities in their communities—which including both basic skills and occupational training skills—our WIA Adults/Dislocated Workers operations provide opportunities to Adult and Dislocated Workers.
The initiative taken by the DOL in trying a different tack regarding the UI program, is one that KRA Corporation applauds. These innovative attempt and others taken by individuals or groups that seek to utilize this opportunity to create their own enterprise and in doing so potentially help to generate economic growth, develop the workforce, and strengthen communities in those participating states is something we continue to support.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
With the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 expanding funding for the SEA program, Dislocated Workers receive a self-employed allowance, in lieu of normal Unemployment Insurance while creating their own jobs and small businesses. The benefit of the program is that the allowance (which is the same weekly amount as the worker's regular UI benefits) enables participants to turn launching their own business into a full-time job.
Mississippi, not currently enrolled in the SEA program, will receive $356,271 of the grant joining Delaware, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island as an active state. The fund is to be used in developing, implementing, and administering a permanent program in partnerships with businesses, nonprofits and government organizations.
New York, with an SEA program already in place, will receive the remainder of the grant money as an enhancement aid for the existing program, enabling the Empire state to—along with other upgrades—” improve customer service and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations by teaching participants how to complete applications, certifications, benchmark forms and surveys online.”
The DOL has been active recently in attempting to get Dislocated Workers back into the workforce. They announced a $58 million state grant infusion to promote training for long-term unemployed Dislocated Workers (which KRA Corporation highlighted in a recent post Getting Dislocated Workers Back to Work).
The move is one that Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, Eric M. Seleznow, foresees being the gateway for future job creation beyond those looking to create their own jobs. He was quoted as saying that it would help “unemployed residents create their own jobs and eventually start hiring employees of their own," as well as “form their own businesses while potentially boosting economic activity in the state."
KRA Corporation understands the importance of aiding Dislocated Workers. Our WIA Adults/Dislocated Workers operations provide vital services—including training services that link customers to job opportunities in their communities, including both basic skills and occupational training skills—to Adult and Dislocated Workers.
KRA Corporation applauds the DOL’s innovative attempt at infusing new direction into the UI program, and we support any of those individuals that seek to utilize this opportunity to create their own enterprise and in doing so potentially help to generate economic growth, develop the workforce, and strengthen communities in those participating states.