77th Annual Meeting

STRENGTHENING WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

WHEREAS, as of April 2009, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent - the highest it has been in a quarter century - and almost double the 4.9 percent rate prior to the onset of the recession; and

WHEREAS, now in its seventeenth month, the current recession is already significantly longer than the two previous recessions the nation experienced in 1990-91 and 2001; and

WHEREAS, the current recession is the longest since the Great Depression; and

WHEREAS, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), the law creating the nation's largest program for providing skills training, was due for reauthorization in 2003; and

WHEREAS, reauthorization of WIA is crucial to meet the growing needs of the American worker - both those who have lost their jobs and those whose skills need to be upgraded to meet the increasing demands of the economy; and

WHEREAS, WIA is critical to fueling the economic development of our nation's cities; enabling local workforce areas to provide job training to workers while they are laid off, as well as continue to meet the demand of local businesses for a skilled workforce while the struggling economy recovers; and

WHEREAS, according to the Employment and Training Administration's Workforce Investment Act Non-Experimental Net Impact Evaluation jobseekers enrolled as WIA adult customers earn roughly $400 to $600 more per quarter than their peers for up to four years after enrollment; and

WHEREAS, WIA's current funding for the Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth funding streams is $3.25 billion, a 26 percent decrease in funding since the legislation was enacted; and

WHEREAS, as the unemployment rate continues to rise, demand for WIA services will continue to increase; and

WHEREAS, Congress has acknowledged the importance of investing in job training in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), which allocated nearly $4 billion for job training through formula grants for Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth training programs,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the federal government to strengthen the Workforce Investment Act by significantly increasing its funding to $8.35 billion, which is consistent with maintaining current funding for WIA programs at 2000 levels (adjusted for inflation), sustaining the levels included in ARRA, and ensuring a continued strong Summer Youth program to address the crisis in youth employment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the federal government to strengthen the Workforce Investment Act by:

  • Improving regional and private-sector coordination, and expanding outreach to immigrants;

  • Providing incentives for public-private partnerships in workforce development;

  • Providing additional training and apprenticeship programs which prepare workers for jobs in the building trades;

  • Enlisting regional employers as partners having a vested interest in the success of workforce development programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference of Mayors calls on business leaders to:

  • Invest in workforce education and career exploration counseling for high school students;

  • Encourage employees (especially within large businesses) to participate in workforce development programs available in high schools, particularly those with lower college placement rates;

  • Work with educators and local leaders to develop appropriate curriculum that is responsive to regional workforce trends;

  • Collaborate with state education and workforce leaders to identify key regional job trends;

  • Support federal and state standards-based education; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in order to ensure a significant reinvestment in all youth entering the labor force, including those young people with low educational attainment and poor connections to work, Congress should strengthen the Workforce Investment Act by including an enhanced Summer Jobs Initiative to bring immediate and long-term benefits to teen workers, their communities and the business sector; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to ensure that public workforce development resources are accessible to all workers in need of assistance-including adults and youth who have been subject to decreasing investments by the Department of Labor, as well as low-income workers, whose access to Pell grants has been restricted; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to ensure that strong local authority and flexibility for local elected officials and their Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) remain at the core of the reauthorization of WIA, so that the system will allow for development of programs that are informed by in-depth knowledge of the local business community, hiring and training needs of local and regional businesses, and the promotion of greater accountability as policies are designed to reflect local trends.