Oh Great Mr. Wizard of OZ: Where is the Money.
The Land of OZ
What we need these next four years...Funding
Once Upon A Time...
Several months ago during the height of summer, I was busy trying to find a job doing something I felt I would be qualified to be doing. I had previously worked for a California Community College in Long Beach, Ca as an Instructional Multimedia Web Programmer, although it sounds like a mouthful and like a highly prized position to have had as a title. It was really a very simple job, that had me helping teaching professionals, to expand the bounds of the traditional class room setting to that of an online experience. My duties were to research, develop, and integrate instructional technology into the college curricula, and by developing customized technology – based tutorials, practices, simulation, and other interactive courseware programs tailored to their students needs. I was helping to create a twenty-first century educational platform.
Being that education is considered to be one of the six green sectors of growth by the Obama administration for the future in the jobs market place. I felt that I was in a good position to have an employable career path that insured both higher pay, and a lower risk factor of becoming unemployed. I consider it one of the really great programs developed by Mr. Obama’s administration, as an over hauled and revamped program that had its beginnings toward the end of the Clinton administration.
Workforce Investment Act.
I am speaking about the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, or WIA for short, which superseded the Job Training Partnership Act, JTPA, and amended the Wagner-Peyser Act. WIA also included title II The Adult Education and Family Literacy ACT, and the title IV Rehabilitation Acts Amendments of 1998. The Obama administrations reforms made changes to federal job training programs, and created a new, comprehensive workforce investment system.
The reforms ware intended to be customer-focused to help Americans access the tools they needed to manage their careers through information and high quality services, and to help U.S. companies find skilled workers. The Department of Labor also issued a Final Rule to the new law by implementing provisions of, titles I, III, and V of the Workforce Investment Act.
Through these regulations, The Department of Labor would implement major reforms of the nation’s job training system and provide guidance for statewide and local workforce investment systems. The aim being to increase the employment, retention, and earnings of participants, while increasing the occupational skill attainment by participants, thereby improving the workforce, and reducing welfare dependency, and enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the Nation.
The key components being a streamlining of services through a One-Stop service delivery system, which would empower individuals through information and access to training resources, and through individual training accounts, providing universal access to core services, increasing accountability for results by local boards, and the private sector in the workforce investment system, which would facilitate State and local flexibility, and improve youth programs.
Still There are Problems
The problem is that while these programs exist, many people are not aware of its existence. While being touted as a once in a LIFETIME program, which essentially means you only get one shot at not only applying for the program, but also at completing it.
This sword also cuts both ways in that if the One-Stops servicing the state and local communities, fail to account for having successes by individuals entered in the program. Their participation and funding can likewise be cut also, which probably accounts for why so few people are aware of the existence of the program to begin with, even though it has existed for so long.
While the Obama administration has introduced the most sweeping changes to the program in 2008 after his election to office, there have been many cuts to the program by more than half in many states.
Waiting at the Wizards Doorstep
So now that I have brought you up to speed about the WIA program, I return to my portion of this tale. While searching and applying for a job in the current 2012 market place, I was approached by a just such a tech school involved in the WIA program called New Horizons.
After I attended their orientation meeting which informed me not only of the WIA program and the courses that the school offered as a resource, involved in the retraining or educating of individuals. making it possible for them to attain the necessary information and technical skills, being required by employers in the job market of the employable public workforce. I focused on providing all of the necessary assessment testing proving my ability to retain, and benefit from the information that would be provided to help me attain the technical skills necessary, for me to become employable in the current jobs market. I also had to provide documentation proving citizenship, employment status, education, and income eligibility.
In planer language you needed to be unemployed, but employable. Also you needed to be on the receiving end of some form of government assistance, unemployment compensation benefit, food stamp and or cash assistance, or letter of having been supported by some other individual either a friend or relative, in order to be considered for the program in the first place. And you only got one shot at the process in the second place. Thirdly, these are steep odds and hurtles to have to overcome also, but I having accomplished all of these mandatory requirements, and to top it off having to still seek employment as a requirement of eligibility, until accepted in the program, in a floundering job market made my task seem insurmountable indeed.
Waiting on the Future
But having overcome all these hurdles, and been accepted in the program, awaiting the promise of an audience, to see the great OZ. Some three months later instead of nearing the half way mark of having completed my participation in the WIA program, and being able to look forward to being reintegrated into the workforce, and leaving the ranks of the dependent upon government welfare and assistance.
My progress has been stymied by a lack of funding, for reasons still not fully understood, by not only myself. But also the local One-Stop workforce center caseworkers and their supervisors. as my case files gather dust sitting on top of a desk, along with the case files of others like me. all awaiting the approval of the voucher of funds, that are supposed to have been allocated to have made the WIA program become my saving grace; or of any effect to the jobs market and economy; and improve the current situation I and many others like me, have been force to endure in 2012 going into 2013.
No Site of Land Yet
So the machine is at a stand still, I am at a stand still. America is at a stand still. Consequently, like the Tin Man rust and decay is setting in fast, and if movement is not restored soon. We are going to be in a position from which there may never be any recovery possible. The numbers are growing exponentially in the ranks of the unemployed, and the future is looking grim indeed. Where indeed is the boat going to make port? with no land insight, and the Fiscal Cliff looming into view.