February 11, 2014
Local jobs leader joins Obama in D.C. for announcement, closer look at workforce
When President Obama announced new initiatives to help the long-term unemployed get back to work late last month, he was joined in the room by several Cincinnatians. Sherry Kelley Marshall, President/CEO of the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board, as well as Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and other regional representatives joined the President at the White House on January 31st.
The session, which lasted for two hours, included the President signing a memorandum saying that the federal government would not discriminate against the long-term unemployed - defined as those without work for more than 26 weeks - in hiring. Obama announced that more than 300 companies had signed a pledge not to discriminate against this population. Cincinnati-area companies included Procter & Gamble, Kroger Co., American Fan Co., Jostin Construction Inc., and Tipco Punch Inc.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 4 million people fall under the category of long-term unemployed.
"It was a privilege to be at the White House among so many who have been working on this issue, which has been one of the most challenging to emerge from the Great Recession," said Marshall. "Knowing that the President, the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce are united in addressing this problem gives me hope that we can find solutions."
Marshall was invited to attend the session, which included panels with employers and workers, because of her work with Platform to Employment, a program that expanded to Cincinnati and nine other U.S. cities in 2013 to help the long-term unemployed find work. In the Cincinnati program the 17 people who completed the program - all older than 50 - found work. Joe Carbone, President/CEO of The WorkPlace in Southwest Connecticut, who founded Platform to Employment, was also in the audience. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez referred to P2E as a ground-breaking program.
The White House announced that the Department of Labor would soon release a competitive grant for $150 million for "job-driven training partnerships" to help the long-term unemployed get back to work.
Others attending from Greater Cincinnati area included Liza Smitherman, Vice President of Professional Development at Jostin Construction; Scott Ellsworth, Vice President of U.S. Operations at Tipco Punch, and Rick Jordan, formerly of LSI and now president of RR Jordan Consulting. All are members of Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships.
Here's a closer look at what workforce development is and what it means for your business:
When we say workforce development or workforce investment, we're referring to public investment into job retraining for displaced and low-income workers, and to actively match employers to job seekers. Funding is primarily through the federal Workforce Investment Act, as well as through competitive grants. For job seekers, services may range from conducting mock interviews with them, to assessing their work readiness skills, to enrolling them into training that will lead to an industry-recognized credential. For employers, business services staff help to set up hiring events and job fairs, screen candidates, and alert them to incentives available to hire displaced workers, such as on-the-job training accounts. In Ohio, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities also play a significant role in workforce development, as does economic development through such programs as incumbent worker training and prospect responses.
How is the Chamber involved?
The Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board (SWORWIB) is an affiliate of the Chamber and has its offices at the Chamber in Carew Tower. Sherry Kelley Marshall. President/CEO, works closely with the Economic Development team at the Chamber, especially when it comes to connecting new and growing businesses to workforce resources. Marshall is also a member of the Chamber's Education and Workforce Committee, and helps the Chamber advocate on behalf of workforce issues.
Employers and workers can tap into the "One Stop" system throughout the Tri-State. Almost every county in the Tri-State region has a One Stop job center where both employers and workers can discover what resources are available to them. In Cincinnati and Hamilton County, that is the SuperJobs Center, which is being rebranded as OhioMeansJobs Cincinnati-Hamilton County under Governor Kasich. Here's a closer look: 2014 Workforce Services