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  • August 05, 2011 10:46 AM | Deleted user
    The National ASTD public policy blog reports that the bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was recently moved off the legislative calendar of the Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, effectively stalling the legislation for the time being.  This follows earlier deferrals of the bill's consideration in recent months.

    Reauthorizing and modernizing WIA to make it more efficient and effective is crucial because ...

    • WIA is the main federal job-training funding source, which has pumped billions into Washington State over the years
    • The need for WIA funding to train and retrain workers grows ever more urgent as the impacts of the Great Recession linger, including high and long-term unemployment and discouraged workers drop out of the labor force, and prospects grow for a double-dip recession
    • This legislation is crucial to addressing the skills gap, the great long-term threat to American competitiveness and prosperity, which continues to fester and grow

    It should also be noted that WIA directly and indirectly enables an undetermined but undoubtedly substantial number of WLP practitioners in Washington State to be employed providing WIA-funded training.

    The ASTDps Board will be considering its public resources strategy in the near future and actions to help move WIA and other important training-related legislation forward.  ASTDps and its members are in a good position to help make a difference with WIA, because Senator Patty Murray of Washington State is a member of the HELP committee and head of its influential subcommittee, Employment and Workplace Safety.

    Be looking of future posts on this topic and calls for action in this space.
  • June 03, 2011 11:56 AM | Deleted user

    The impact of the budget battles in Washington, D.C. is now being felt in Washington State and in the WLP profession.  The U.S. Department of Labor recently sent out an advisory to all states showing how much funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) had been reduced by Congress. While these are not the only training funds states receive, WIA is one of the major sources of funds and representative of what is occurring to federally-supported training programs.

    In the original appropriation by Congress, Washington State was slated to receive $73.5 million in total across the four categories of funding, including Youth Training; Adult Training (generally, ongoing training programs, such as trade apprenticeships); Dislocated Worker Training (focused on people who have lost their jobs due to the recession or foreign competition and who need new skills to reenter the labor market); and Employment Services (this is synonomous with the WorkSource Centers in Washington State, which do all the intake and assessment, job serach counseling, unemployment claims processing, and related activities).
    After the budget battle, Washington State's total funding was cut by nearly $6 million, to a new total of $67,679,710, a reduction of just less than 8 percent. 
    There are generally two reactions when looking at these numbers. First, many WLP professionals are surprised to learn how much funding for training is provided through federal programs. However, to keep this in perspective, let me note that as I reported in an blog entry a few weeks ago that current levels of federal taining funding have drifted down steadily since the 1970s; even before the cuts, funding is only ONE-FIFTH what it would be had earlier federal commitments to training been maintained at the levels of forty years ago. In other words (or numbers), the total might have been closer to $350 million. 
    The second reaction is that for all the sturm-und-drang of political theater, the cuts aren't that large. But again the context is important. The United States is in the worst economy since the Great Recession and the Skills Gap problem continues to grow. As Lawrence Summers, former Harvard University president and former director of the National Economic Council for President Obama observed in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine, 
    "I worry for the medium and long term about where the jobs are going to come from for those with fewer skills. One in five men between 25 and 54 is not working, and a reasonable projection is that it will still be one in six after the economy recovers. It was one in 20 in the 1960s. That has potentially vast social consequences."
    Part of this problem is the recession-induced lack of demand. But as Summers notes, a substantial part of it is a lack of skills, in other words, it is the Skills Gap problem. And, yes, the budget deficit is a concern, but if people lack the skills to perform jobs in the modern economy, they can't contribute much in the way of tax revenues.
    What do you think? How big is the Skills Gap problem, and what will it take to solve it?
  • June 03, 2011 11:54 AM | Deleted user

    The ASTD Press has recently published a new issue in its Infoline series titled “Cloud Computing for Learning and Performance Professionals,” written by local ASTDps chapter member, Rick Shor. Congratulations Rick! Thank you for your efforts in getting this valuable information written and published.

    I know from experience that Rick is passionate about this topic because he believes that cloud computing (which is different from but often confused with social media) will affect most everyone who uses computing and telecommunications technologies, from the child in elementary school to the highest levels of leadership and management in government and industry.

    He predicts that our local economy will be highly dependent on our ability to prepare for the impending changes, because it includes two of the largest players in this area, Microsoft and Amazon, as well as many smaller companies who provide ancillary services for cloud computing.

    Rick's Infoline piece describes the impact cloud computing will have on you, your clients or customers, and others who produce or consume computing products or services. It proposes some near and mid-term approaches from workplace learning and performance professionals to ready themselves and those they support for the upcoming changes and also to  use cloud computing services for their own personal and professional development.

    If you are interested, you can order digital or print copies of this publication at the ASTD Press website, and remember that part of the proceeds come back to our local chapter! 
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