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Writing Sample #1

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Writing Sample #1

  1. 1. Briane Cornish-Knight1 IMPEMENTATION OF THE WORKFORCE INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY ACT Written testimony presented by Briane Cornish-Knight-DC resident; ward 1 Submitted Jan. 21st, 2016 INTRODUCTION I write to express my excitement that the District of Columbia intends to make use of WIOA federal funds. Given our lack of significant industries (apart from federal contracting), the need for workforce development in D.C. has and continues to be great. It is extremely exciting for there to now be sufficient political will to utilize WIOA funds to impact those who have experience decades of barriers to employment. Below, are some recommendations on how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act can have the greatest impact on D.C. residents. To summarize, WIOA funds can have the greatest impact on DC residents by 1) focusing on improving the rate of job placement and follow-up of support services specifically for populations that are hardest to place (i.e. those with criminal records, disabilities, no prior work experience and/or currently homeless), 2) servicing young adults through a mix of job placement, apprenticeship placement and entrepreneurship education and 3) the District could strategically combine WIOA funds with HUD funded housing programs to directly support those with criminal records who are entering the workforce after previously residing in foster care or a homeless shelter. Research suggests that under-served and disconnected youth/young adults residing in shelters or foster care are most likely to end up in the criminal justice system due to economic needs and lack of opportunity. Other jurisdictions have strategically used WIOA funds and HUD resources to create a cross-system collaboration between housing providers and the public workforce system. Case in point: HUD recently announced a pilot program, the Jobs Plus pilot program, that would test pairing housing vouchers specifically for youth aging out of foster care. The Jobs Plus pilot program is a place-based strategy that attempts to promote peer-to- peer information sharing about work opportunities, employment services, and elimination of financial disincentives within housing developments. As a result of this collaboration between workforce and housing agencies, a former foster care participant is able to maintain their housing and employment without worrying about their increasing income impacting or threatening their current subsidized/discounted housing. Upon completion in this five year program, the participant is will have increased their income, paid more in rent, and gained some type of employment (in contrast to having to move into a shelter). Other examples of strategic uses of HUD and WIOA services include co-location of homeless and workforce services and the use of employment navigators. All of these examples increase the likelihood that households experiencing homelessness will receive appropriate housing and workforce services. DC’S CURRENT METRICS FOR JOB PLACEMENT ARE INADEQUATE Currently, job placement organizations use reported income to the IRS or social security as a metric of success. This is an inadequate metric in that there is no way to know that the person is employed in a position that they were trained in/for. Moreover, there is no way to know WIOA  FUNDS  SHOULD  BE  USED  IN  COLL  OABRATION  WITH    HUD/DCHA  SERVICES     TO   STRATEGICALL  Y  ADDRESS  THE  OBSTACLES  FOSTER  YOUTH  AND  HOMELESS  INDIVIDUALS   FACE  IN  MAINTAINING  STABLE  HOUSING  AS  THEY  PARTAKE  IN  A  CAREER       PATHWAY  
  2. 2. Briane Cornish-Knight2 whether that income is through a subsidized or temporary form of employment. The DC council should convene grant makers, specifically those with backgrounds in evaluative research methods, and experts in community engagement in order to devise a better system of determining whether a participant in a job training program has successfully found employment. There are countless young adults in DC (especially young people with criminal records) who have successfully completed several training and certifications programs. Yet the majority of them are either underemployed, in a temporary subsidized program, unemployed, or have employment that is not the higher-paying job they receive training for. Thus, the first priority, in administering WIOA funds, should be to identify how to connect previously trained young adults to longer-term and higher-paying employment. Granted, this may include a need for a ”refresher training” or at least the ability of those who are trained to be able to some how showcase that they can implement the training they’ve acquired. Nevertheless, the DC local WIOA board must address the pattern of over-trained young adults who are under/unemployed residents in D.C. Relatedly, the DC council should fund new training opportunities only if there is a connected pathway to employment (with the exception of training programs that are connected to a entrepreneurship program). Currently in D.C., as suggested above, there are many training programs that, even a person excels within the training, will not lead to a job offer. Thus, it is extremely important that WIOA local boards convene employers and get a commitment to hire a individual, provided that a young adult receives and successfully completes the requisite training. A carve-out should be made to allow for WIOA beneficiaries to start their own enterprises if they are not successfully hired after the completion of their training program. While WIOA funds cannot directly fund entrepreneurship, an individual who wants to start their own enterprise should not be considered ineligible or treated any differently when it comes to participation in WIOA funded programs. The fact that young adults above the age of 24 are not eligible for WIOA funds is a huge missed opportunity. Significant neuroscience research supports the need to support young adults who are still in development up until their late 20s. Thus, the DC Council should look into asking for a waiver from the federal government in order to provide important youth services to those between the ages of 24-29. DC can also elect to have up to 25% of its funds for youth services support in school youth. DC should elect to take this waiver specifically to allow for such funds to support homeless youth, foster care youth, and justice- involved youth, who are still enrolled in “last chance” schools. Many students who are expelled from charter schools are sent to “last chance” schools like Anacostia high school. REQUEST  WAIVERS  FOR  YOUTH  ELIGIBILITY  AND/OR  FOCUS  ON  MOST  UNDERSERVED   POPULATIONS  YOUNG  ADULT  POPULATION  IN   DC   WIOA  SHOULD  ALLOW  FOR  AND  SUPPORT  GRADUATES,  WHO  COMPLETE  APPRENTICESHIP   PROGRAMS,  TO  START  THEIR  OWN  ENTERPRISES   WIOA  FUNDS  MUST  ADDRESS  THE  FACT  THAT  THERE  ARE  MANY  LOW-­‐  INCOME    YOUNG   ADULTS  IN  D.C.  WHO  ARE  OVER-­‐  TRAINED  &  STILL  UNDER/UNEMPLOYED  
  3. 3. Briane Cornish-Knight3 WIOA allows for many support services for youth including training on entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurial skills should be offered for youth as an additional and essential (ideally required) component of apprenticeship programs. Attaching entrepreneurial skills to apprenticeship programs allows for a young person to watch how one implements and utilizes their entrepreneurial skills to run a business day-to-day. ENTREPRENUERSL  SKILLS  TRAINING  FOR  YOUTH  SHOULD  BE  COMBINED  WITH   APPRENTICESHIP  PROGRAMS  TO  BE  MOST  EFFECTIVE  

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