At-large Councilmember Michael Brown, chairman of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, has provided a report to his Council peers that details system-wide problems related to the District’s high rate of unemployment.
According to Brown, who presented the “Special Report on the State of the District’s Workforce Programs,” various problems related to the city’s employment infrastructure have persisted for years. However, “in today’s economy, job training and job placement must be key priorities for the District,” said Brown in a statement that accompanied the report’s Dec. 20 release. “We must be focused on getting our residents back to work with jobs that not only allow them to become self-sufficient but will also lead to a strong recovery for our economy.”
Brown said that much of the information and analysis contained in the 66-page report was provided through the Council’s “aggressive” oversight as well as research and meetings with a wide range of community stakeholders. He added that the report, which has full Council support, also offers comprehensive solutions to be considered by local officials in addressing unemployment.
While the report goes on to highlight inefficiencies within District agencies that oversee workforce programs it also provides solutions for decreasing unemployment.
According to the October 2010 Economic Indicators report, more than 718,000 jobs exist within the city’s parameters. But the report points out that although roughly 331,000 people comprise the District’s labor force, more than 70 percent of its jobs are held by non-D.C. residents. As a result, the city’s unemployment rate which has hovered around 10 percent over the past yea, cannot be solely attributed to a shortage of jobs, according to the report.
In offering solutions for decreasing joblessness among D.C. residents—which has disproportionately impacted people living in wards 7 and 8 at the rates of 17 percent and 28 percent respectively—the report recommends that the District strengthen its adult education and job placement programs and its workforce development initiatives. “In order to make great strides in our city’s workforce programs, we must begin to actively engage our Workforce Investment Council, give more attention to our One Stop Career Centers, and re-structure our Youth Workforce Development programs,” Brown said.
The report further recommends reorganizing or enforcing the governance structure associated with the WIC in order to eliminate conflicts of interests in its reports to the Department of Employment Services , and fully staffing the initiative with its own full-time, permanent staff.