Representatives of the private sector and two D.C. government agencies disclosed plans yesterday for a new program to develop training and employment opportunities for District residents.
The program, to be known as the Employment Linkage Project, is designed to identify new or expanding businesses in the District and to provide a pool of workers trained in skills required by those businesses.
The project will, for the first time, provide a formal link between the District's employment and job development services and its economic development program, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry said in a statement announcing the cooperative effort.
A beefed-up labor pool and training opportunities, Barry added, "will serve as an additional inducement to firms to locate and remain in the District."
A recent study of business retention needs in the District concluded that the city should place greater emphasis on the availability of a large and skilled labor pool. The study further concluded that assurances that such a pool exists can be used to attract businesses to the District.
Participants in the new job program are the District's Office of Business and Economic Development, the Department of Employment Services, the Mayor's Overall Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Private Industry Council.
PIC already conducts major training programs in several occupational areas, primarily with the aid of Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) funds. A training program for word processors, which it conducts with International Business Machines and the Urban League, for example, has been a "major success," said Michael Gilbert, PIC's executive director.
PIC officials estimate about 400 persons will be trained in various programs this year. Emphasis will be placed primarily on marketing employment and training services to small businesses, said Carl D. Longley, PIC chairman.
Nonetheless, the program will be a major part of all phases of economic development in the District, said Lawrence P. Schumake III, executive director of the Office of Business and Economic Development.
About $900,000 that the District is scheduled to receive this year under Title VII of CETA will be passed through to PIC for use in identifying needed job skills and training, said Ivanhoe Donaldson, acting director of the Department of Employment Services.
This year's funding is slightly less than the previous year's level. And, although there is still a question about CETA funding in the future, the new partnership announced yesterday will continue with the support of local resources, Donaldson said.
"Whether CETA goes by the board or not, the department of employment services will make a major effort to support the program," Donaldson promised. "Either way, the District won't be hampered because we think we have a good program."
The District, Gilbert pointed out, "is one of the few cities in the United States where the local government has made a major commitment to manpower training."