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Labor Perspective From California Workforce Development Board Chairman Angelo Farooq: Congress ‘Should Invest In Our Nation’s Workforce Development System’

Published Sunday, October 4, 2020
by Angelo Farooq/Via The Press Enterprise
Labor Perspective From California Workforce Development Board Chairman Angelo Farooq: Congress ‘Should Invest In Our Nation’s Workforce Development System’

Americans deserve to have the dignity to access pathways with quality jobs that can provide for their families and meaningfully investing in our Public Workforce System ensures there is an infrastructure to equitably support Workers toward that goal.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the Federal legislation that governs our Public Workforce System.

WIOA requires reauthorization this year and it is also being considered for additional funding as part of the next phase of Congressional stimulus.

WIOA offers Unemployed Workers access to the American Job Centers of California - a system that provides internet access, career assistance, training opportunities and supportive services.

COVID-19 has exacerbated economic devastation, but the indefensible inequities facing Workers existed even during the low unemployment that preceded the pandemic.

Prior to COVID-19, there were 53 million Americans working in low-wage jobs - making up 44% of Workers age 18 to 64, according to Brookings.

This is the reason that we need to make bold investments that are explicitly rooted in inclusive recovery and racial justice to emerge from this crisis, but also address the systemic inequities that have prevented disadvantaged communities from the opportunities for prosperity that they deserve.

The California Workforce Development Board has adopted a “high road” vision for a comprehensive system.

This integrated approach to workforce and economic policy requires a shared commitment to equity, Worker Voice and job quality.

It targets public investments from WIOA to employers that share a commitment to quality jobs and career advancement.

Across California, businesses and Unions in industries hard hit by COVID-19 are working together through High Road Training Partnerships.

They are pioneering ways to buffer against economic damage and to protect Workers’ income, safety, businesses and jobs.

WIOA funds are utilized for High Road Training Partnerships to make industries and Labor Markets more equitable and more resilient.

Hotels and event venues in Los Angeles, through the Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy, are utilizing their industrial scale kitchens to feed low-income seniors and Front Line Health Care Workers, at the same time re-employing displaced Hospitality Workers to produce and deliver 70,000 relief meals per day.

Restaurants in several California cities are working through One Fair Wage, recently highlighted by Brookings, to keep local restaurants open and Restaurant Workers preparing food, while also improving job quality and equity in the industry.

Janitorial companies and building owners through the Building Skills Partnership graduated the first class of Trainees from a new Infectious Disease Certification Program, keeping Property Service Workers employed while making it safe for others to return to work.

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