Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Prioritizes Funding Programs that Advance Residents on Path to Employment in Fiscal Year 2020

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, chaired by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), approved budget and policy recommendations for upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 that put an emphasis on investing in programs that have data-driven track records of putting D.C. residents on paths to work. In statements supporting the decisions, each Committee member stressed how critical agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction are to ensuring all residents, especially returning citizens, benefit from the city’s prosperity. Agencies under the Committee’s purview include the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the Workforce Investment Council, and the D.C. Department of Human Resources.

“We have designed programs to help residents get work, particularly in our high-demand industries, yet the numbers don’t point to success. Data has been either unclear or in some cases unavailable to the Committee,” Silverman said. “However, anecdotal evidence from residents who testified at hearings was straightforward: Many of our high-profile workforce programs are not delivering what was promised to get our residents into jobs and put them on paths to long-term career success. The status-quo of spending lots of money on programs that don’t help our residents can’t continue.”

Given the importance of being able to measure success in taxpayer investments, the Committee decided to recommend a one-year-only extension for workforce programs that have not provided reliable data showing D.C. residents graduating with skills certifications and securing jobs. Usually a program’s funding is assumed to continue from year-to-year and budgeted three years in the future. The Committee’s hope is to work closely with its agencies to improve programs, demonstrate their results, and restore recurring funding next year. The out-years funding remained within the Committee.

Current workforce programs that will be subject to conditional funding based on clearly-reported, positive outcomes for residents after next year are the Local Adult Training Program, D.C. Infrastructure Academy, Project Empowerment, and D.C. Career Connections.

Highlights of the Committee’s workforce training investment efforts include:

  • $1.7 million to restore and expand the Career Pathways Innovation Fund grant program, a successful, data-driven workforce training program that combines literacy and occupational training for the District’s adult jobseekers
  • $600,000 to fund the Pathways to Government Careers Act, establishing an apprenticeship initiative within D.C. government for District residents and students to increase long-term, middle-class employment opportunities
  • $176,000 to fund a new work-based learning coordinator position within D.C. Public Schools and to support career and technical education programs in District public charter schools

Highlights of the Committee’s investments to help D.C. workers include:

  • $140,000 to protect low-wage earners with implementation of the Wage Garnishment Fairness Amendment Act, which will also require advance notification to workers subject to wage garnishment
  • $200,000 to enable community-based organizations to help workers understand their rights under District employment law through a Wage and Hour Education Grants Program
  • Enhancing education efforts around tipped wage workers’ rights and workplace protections by increasing workplace posters, informational websites, and public education campaigns

Highlights of the Committee’s policy recommendations include:

  • Enhancing the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program by allowing youth not in school or currently working to participate for up to 12 weeks to better connect them with jobs and increasing exposure to apprenticeship programs
  • Increasing work opportunities for youth in Ward 7 and 8 schools by directing two-thirds of local funding to serve these students year-round
  • Setting high-wage training standards at the D.C. Infrastructure Academy, as well as requiring performance-based payments for training providers and incentivizing employment retention by allowing bonus payments to providers

The Committee also invested $1 million to fund the School Safety Act, which combats sexual abuse and student-on-student harassment within District public schools and establishes clear policies to address allegations.

These recommendations and investments will move to the full D.C. Council for final consideration later this month. The first of two votes on the complete FY 2020 budget package is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, May 14.