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WorkOne trims staff, hours in advance of federal cuts

June 8th, 2012

News Coverage:

WorkOne trims staff, hours in advance of federal cuts

RICK FARRANT - rfarrant@fwbusiness.com

Friday, Jun. 08, 2012 at 5:45am

WorkOne Northeast has eliminated nine positions throughout its system and pared hours at eight of its 11 regional centers in anticipation of a $579,621 cut in federal funding come July 1, WorkOne President and CEO Kathleen Randolph said. The funding reduction represents an 8.2-percent drop — from $7,094,858 to $6,515,237 — in annual Workforce Investment Act support, which Randolph said is the foundation of WorkOne’s budget.

Randolph said there are no plans to close any of the northeast centers — a step anticipated in northwest Indiana, where four WorkOne centers are expected to be shuttered soon.

But Randolph said if the local agency experiences more funding reductions, closing or relocating some centers is possible.

“In that case, we would work with our local elected officials on whether we should relocate centers or potentially close any centers,” she said. “This is a really important service that we are able to provide to constituents in the region. But it is also a situation that is completely outside of our control.”

Randolph said the funding cut comes “at a very unfortunate time because economic prosperity depends on a skilled and ready work force, and we don’t have it yet. We have to build it.”

Each year, WorkOne seeks grants beyond the WIA funding, and the agency’s overall budget this fiscal year was $15.7 million.

But WorkOne Northeast in the new fiscal year will not only be experiencing reduced WIA funds but also the end of a $5.7-million Talent Initiative grant that helped it train more than 3,000 people in the last three years so they could receive industry- recognized credentials.

“We’re going to be working with other organizations,” Randolph said, “to discern the most effective way of raising private-sector money. We’re going to really scramble to build up our budget.”

WorkOne helps people find new or better jobs, choose careers, find good employees or access training.

Three of the lost WorkOne positions were achieved through job eliminations in the agency’s administrative headquarters in Fort Wayne, leaving the management team with 10 employees. The other six job reductions involved not filling positions through attrition at outlying centers. The job reductions were carried out in the last six months and leave WorkOne Northeast with 67 employees.

In the other cost-cutting move, Randolph said WorkOne Northeast has been reducing hours and days at eight express centers for some time, but lately has been refining those arrangements to ensure a person seeking service doesn’t have to drive far to a center that’s open.

“If a person needs immediate in-person assistance,” she said, “in most situations it’s only a 20-minute drive to another express site. We want to make sure people have access to services, but it might not be in their county.

“Some people might say we don’t need to have all these centers, that services can be delivered online,” Randolph said. “But a lot of people don’t know how to use technology, and we don’t have broadband connections in some rural areas.”

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