The District of Columbia has allocated $715,185 to a program designed to create jobs in the private sector, but many area companies apparently are not aware of the campaign and the potential development of more than 500 new jobs may not be realized.
To date, only 61 city residents have become employed under the program and contracts are being developed that cover an additional 29 workers, for a total obilgation of $186,578 of the available federal government money.
Money allocated to the jobs program comes from federal revenue sharing under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973. Similar CETA on-the-job training programs have been conducted in Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery counties, but the current fiscal year marks the first time that D.C. has allocated CETA funds for private-sector jobs.
Funds not allocated by Sept. 30 would be available in the following year. But local business leaders said yesterday that failure to take advantage of the opportunity to create new jobs now would jeopardize their goal of seeking even more money in fiscal 1979.
Accountant Ted Bruccoleri, chairman of an employment programs committee for the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, said he is not discourage by the slow startup of the private sector jobs program. He said the Board of Trade is preparing a series of television promotions and additonal seminars in an effort to inform local businesses that the program exists.
At the same time, Bruccoleri said many of the city's larger employers have been reluctant to become involved because they have extensive job-training programs of their own. Many business people fear "government red tape" in any such effort, he added.
However, according to the Arthur Andersen & Co. official,the CETA program is tailored specifically to meet business demands and involves a minimum of paperwork.
Bruccoleri and other business leaders said yesterday the CETA on-the-job program is more effective than government public works programs because there is a higher percentage of permanent employment created.
Claude Deeds, of the National Alliance of Businessmen, said he surveyed CETA programs in the suburban counties and found that 80 percent of the persons initially hired kept their jobs after government aid for training periods ended. tr for add three
As described by Bruccoleri, Deeds and D.C. Department of Manpower official Tan Pearis, here is how the District program works:
Any company in the District or suburbs is eligible to participate, so long as they hire unemployed D.C. residents who are placed on the firm's payroll.
The companies provide on-the-job training for a period of up to 40 weeks and the workers' salaries are reimbursed from the CETA funds. At the end of the government-subsidized training period, the workers have new skills but the company is not obligated to continue employment.
Bruccoleri said a high level of hardcore joblessness in the city "is the biggest problem" now facing the local community. The program is designed to reduce, in particular, the number of the city youths now out of work - estimated at more than 13,000.
Companies that have hired workers under the CETA program to date include People Drug Stores, Peat Marwick & Mitchell, Market Tire, Zayre's and Washington Federal Savings and Loan Association. The only big employer now studying the program is Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., Bruccoleri said.
He noted, however, that most area companies employ fewer than 100 persons and he said these employers should be studying the possibility of helping themselves and the community by participation in the CETA program.
Workers hired to date include dietary aids, management trainees, secretaries, community organizers, recretation workers, auto mechanics and print shop workers.
The Board of Trade and NAB spokesmen sand employers "are only too aware of the staggering costs being passed on directly to us in terms of unemployment taxes, other local taxes, insurance premiums and property losses."
The CETA program, they added, could accomplish a three-fold objective of making unemployed persons "productuve and self-sustaining," reducing tax in particular.
One organization that has taken advantage of the CETA program is the American Heart Association. Ray Wilson, who joined the organization last August under a separate veterans employment program, said yesterday he has hired four persons under the CETA on-the-job training program - two secretaries and two community organizers.
"This is an excellent program for a person with no basic training it gives a focal point and a sense of direction . . . with the economy at it is today, some individuals may not get the opportunity to show their basic expertise," Wilson said in an interview.
He said the Heart Association's CETA workers "are working out very well," engaged in nutrition, research and helping staff neighborhood projects designed to make D.C. residents aware of heart ailments, prevention of attacks and dietary needs.