The District Department of Employment Services has added Metro to its list of potential employers in the One City One Hire program, which is aiming to match 10,000 residents with jobs in the private sector in a year.
Testing began Wednesday of 26 District residents applying to be bus drivers with the transit agency. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) highlighted Metro’s participation by holding his bi-weekly news conference at DOES headquarters, where testing was taking place.
But as Gray praised One City One Hire, which has placed 330 residents in jobs and now has 170 participating companies, he had to explain recent layoffs in the District government.
The Department of Public Works eliminated 30 positions from booting vehicles and in the impoundment lot and another 30 street sweeping positions. William O. Howland, DPW director, said the agency found 21 of those employees other positions within DPW.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS administration lost federal grant funds and will likely have to lay off employees, said Mohammad N. Akhter, director of health. He said the agency is currently trying to figure out how to minimize layoffs to fewer than five people.
Gray said the government’s challenging budget makes One City One Hire even more important. “We are increasingly looking to the private sector to employ people,” he said.
The city also needs to turn to independent agencies on which the District has appointees. In the case of Metro, Tom Downs, one of the city’s representatives on the Metro board, suggested the partnership, Gray said.
District residents make up about 4 to 5 percent of Metro’s 11,000-employee workforce, according to Jack Requa, who oversees bus operations.
The small representation of D.C. residents can be attributed to a lack of applicants and the lack of training for the jobs, Requa said.
Gray said he was “confident this is just the beginning.”