Support for Thousands of Illinois Workers at Risk from Federal Budget Cuts
ROCK ISLAND – April 5, 2011. The administration of Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $297,000 federal grant to assist hundreds of workers who will be displaced after the relocation of TACOM-Rock Island Arsenal to Warren, Michigan this fall. The grant, from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), will help 130 workers get training and hundreds more the job seeking and support services they need to re-enter the workforce.
“The men and women working at the Rock Island Arsenal have been producing the tools and supplies that keep our brave servicemen and servicewomen safe as they serve our country throughout the world,” said Governor Quinn. “This funding will give those workers access to the training they need to be competitive as the re-enter the workforce.”
The DCEO grant, which is funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), will be used to provide direct training assistance, and help workers upgrade their skills to prepare them for the workforce. It will also go towards case management and support services, such as job placement, transportation or child care to help alleviate any barriers that would prevent them from getting sustainable employment.
The Rock Island Arsenal is the nation's largest government owned and operated arsenal. Today, Rock Island Arsenal is the only U.S. Army facility that assembles tool sets, kits, and outfits that support equipment in the field. The TACOM division of the arsenal was selected in 2005 by the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to be relocated.
“When the BRAC decision was first announced nearly six years ago, we began working with DCEO and our federal representatives to secure the necessary funding to help the 400 civilian employees that worked in TACOM begin to find other jobs. This grant will help us continue those efforts and provide the remaining workers with additional training and support services to help them start rebuilding their lives,” said Chuck Stewart, director of Partners in Job Training and Placement in Rock Island.
Current funding for programs administered through WIA are at risk of being severely cut or eliminated if the budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives is signed into law. The bill also targets vital training programs for deep cuts or elimination in the upcoming budget year, including a 50 percent reduction in innovation funding that states use to implement regional employment and training initiatives. These cuts would prevent tens of thousands of Illinois residents from receiving the vital employment and training services they need to get a job, and would eventually result in the state’s Illinois workNet Centers closing their doors. DCEO administers the federal Workforce Investment Act on behalf of the state, which provides job training and workforce services for adults, youth and dislocated workers.
“Funding through the Workforce Investment Act is critical to our ability to respond quickly to changes in the workforce, like the situation at the Rock Island Arsenal,” DCEO Director Ribley said. “If we’re going to continue our leadership in the global economy, we must have a well-trained and prepared workforce, and we cannot afford the severe and ill-timed cuts Congress is proposing to the states’ workforce programs.”
There are 26 local workforce development boards and 113 Illinois workNet career and training centers in Illinois that rely on WIA funding to provide their services. For Program Year 2010, Illinois received more than $138 million through WIA. During Program Year 2009, WIA served more than 173,000 workers, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately 177,000 job seekers utilized the Illinois workNet online portal to access services. According to the National Skills Coalition, over 8.4 million Americans were served under WIA this past year and WIA participation rates increased 234 percent over the past two years despite funding remaining stagnant at 2008 levels.
For more information on the state’s workforce programs, visit www.illinoisworknet.com.