At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown (D) didn't mince words when naming a bill he submitted in yesterday's D.C. Council legislative session. It's called the "Get D.C. Residents Training for Jobs Now Act."
The act would compel Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to create a job training program for adults by opening certain schools at night and on the weekends. At least eight of Brown's colleagues supported the bill, now in the committee on housing workforce development.
Currently D.C. provides job training to high school students but not adults. In a statement, Brown's office said the legislation requires that job-training programs be made available for adults at three District-owned facilities currently offering career technical training programs for high school students -- the Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Senior High School, the Hospitality High School at Roosevelt, and Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School.
As the city's unemployment rate soars above 8 percent, Brown, chair of the economic development committee, said he's been besieged by residents at appearances and family outings asking what he can do to get them jobs.
In the financial crisis, there's not much work to be had. For many D.C. residents, the chance of finding work is even harder because they're poorly trained for what's available: hospitality work, small construction jobs such as weatherstripping and carpentry, the list goes on.
There are more than 700,000 jobs being worked in the city, according to the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, and 450,000 of them are filled by people who live outside the District. Federal law forbids the city from taxing non-residents, so the District loses about $200 million a year in potential revenue.
Training, Brown said, could offset the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, and the District should be at the forefront. "Despite the reports, I believe our nation and the District can rebuild," he said. "I believe that there are opportunities for growth right at our doorstep."