A Message from the CEO

According to the president’s 2018 budget priorities, the administration is requesting $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion (21 percent) decrease from the 2017 annualized CR (Continued Resolution) level.

Some of our community partners will be impacted by these cuts. While West Michigan Works! will not weigh in on the appropriateness of the funding levels, we pose the following questions:

  • Is the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps at risk of closing? If so, how will hundreds of youth who receive the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce be served?
  • How many West Michigan seniors are served through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCEP)? If their funding is reduced, who will provide work-based job training for these low-income, unemployed seniors?
  • How will these cuts impact our community?

The cuts also raise questions related to our own programs and services:

  • In coordination with community colleges in West Michigan, we have been working hard to meet employer demand by expanding apprenticeship programs. Does “helps States expand apprenticeships” mean that we can expect an increase in funding toward that end?
  • With “decreased support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities and employers,” who will provide the supports needed to connect job seekers to employers? Will we see a 21 percent reduction in funding across all programs?
  • How will these cuts impact your business?

Over the last four years, Michigan Works! agencies in West Michigan (and many throughout the state) have worked strategically and thoughtfully to reduce costs by eliminating contracted services, and the system as a whole has consolidated administrative agencies (from 24 to 16). All while retaining a high level of service to our employers and job seekers. There is no room for additional cuts without risking the quality and availability of services.

Call to action

If you have received services from Michigan Works! and have benefited from the high level of professionalism and quality of service, we are asking you to write to your congressional leaders. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a few in Washington, D.C. and they reminded me that our country’s system of checks and balances allows for members of the House and Senate to counter the president’s priorities with the priorities of the their constituents.

Please write to your congressional representatives to encourage them to continue to make job training and employment services a priority. If you need assistance – where to send or a sample letter – please reach out to me directly at  jmaas@westmiworks.org.

Thank you,

Jacob Maas