DC’s Jobs Matchmaker in Chief
The recent Washington Post poll offered a mixed picture of how DC residents feel the city’s doing when it comes to jobs and the local DC economy. Many felt good about Mayor Gray’s efforts to attract new businesses to the city, but many also felt enough wasn’t being done to make sure DC residents get hired for any new jobs created out of this growth. Strengthening the connection between employers and job seekers is a task that’s been taken on by the District’s Workforce Investment Council, especially in its efforts to start the District’s first workforce intermediary, and its success is critical to closing DC’s employment gap.
Mayor Gray deserves credit for reinvigorating DC’s Workforce Investment Council. The WIC, as it is known, is made up of business, government and nonprofit leaders and is tasked with oversight over the city’s federally-funded job training programs. This includes the city’s one-stop employment centers, as well as other programs targeted at apprenticeships, seniors and employers. WIC executive director Allison Gerber has both hands-on experience running job training programs as well as analytical expertise as a researcher with the nationally-known Aspen Institute, and she has hired experienced staffers in job training and skills development to help her reinvent the District’s approach to workforce development.
One of the most innovative efforts the WIC is engaged in is creating a pilot workforce intermediary. DCFPI, along with DC Appleseed, the DC Employment Justice Center and other groups interested in workforce development, worked with the Gray administration and the DC Council to bring this successful model to the District. Connecting employers with job seekers is a multi-pronged process with numerous entities involved. The intermediary acts as a broker—understanding the needs of employers in terms of skills and training, the role of government agencies and nonprofits in providing training and resources and the needs of job seekers themselves to make a good match for all.
A task force on the intermediary has presented its recommendations and now it is in the implementation phase. The intermediary has received the support of DC Council members, and we hope the Council and mayor will work together with the WIC to get the intermediary up and running soon.