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Verdugo Workforce Investment Board (WIB):

Challenge of Identifying Job Opportunities
Areas of Healthcare, Entertainment, Infrastructure, Green Jobs

With over 90% of industries in Los Angeles County laying off workers—many in large numbers, the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board (WIB), which represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale and La Canada Flintridge, has undertaken the challenge of identifying local job opportunities and training local residents to fill the jobs.  The impetus for these activities is the recent allocation of $3 million of stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) through the state Employment Development Department.

DOL, which received the funding as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package developed by the Obama Administration and Congress, urged workforce investment boards around the country to spend their allocations quickly to maximize immediate economic impact, but it also stressed that the taxpayer funding must be spent prudently to generate substantial employment for job seekers.

Workforce investment boards were established in 2000 by the federal Workforce Investment Act to develop local workforce policies for their region and to oversee federal and state allocations of workforce funds.  The WIBs also oversee one-stop centers that provide employment and training services to the community.

“The WIB is faced with the very difficult challenge of strategically allocating its stimulus funding rapidly in an economic and employment environment that is probably one of the worst since WWII,” said Nick Hacopian, chairman of the Verdugo WIB.  “Based on the strategic plan developed by the WIB, we are well-positioned to capitalize on current labor market and economic trends that should help us accomplish our mission.”

The Verdugo WIB has developed a strategy based on targeting its largest and/or high-growth industry sectors.  Those industries include entertainment, health care, and green jobs.  The WIB sought to avoid industry sectors that are dependent on consumer spending because those industries have been negatively impacted the most in the current recession.

In the entertainment area, which is the largest employer in the Verdugo region, the WIB hopes to focus on employment in the digital effects, animation and post production segments of the industry.  Due to the uncertainty of the current producers and Screen Actors Guild contract negotiations, many industry projects have been put on hold until the negotiations are resolved.  This has created pent up demand that should result in more job opportunities later in the year in these target areas when the contract is finally approved by early June.

In the health care area, the Verdugo region has 4 major hospitals, and those hospitals have shown growth for 7 consecutive years.  Based on an aging Verdugo population that will require more health care services, the industry is projected to continue on a growth path for many years.  Health care is the region’s second largest employer, and it is one of a handful of industries in Los Angeles County that has shown employment growth in the past 6 months.

Finally, based on massive investments in infrastructure and green jobs by the Obama Administration, the local area anticipates growing job opportunities in this field as projects begin to launch.  Local power/utility companies in Glendale and Burbank will be at the forefront of energy efficiency and power generation projects that will likely create numerous jobs.

The WIB hopes to invest up to $1 million of its stimulus funds with local training contractors who propose training projects in these target industry areas.

In addition, the WIB will invest about $540,000 of its funding on summer youth employment programs to help immediately employ low income and unemployed youth this summer.  Any remaining youth funding will be dedicated to working with older, unemployed youth after the summer.

Finally, with some of the stimulus funding, the WIB hopes to increase its research of the local economy to better address the difficult task of finding job growth opportunities in a dismal labor market.  The WIB hopes to team with the economic development departments of the city of Burbank and the city of Glendale to pursue this mission.

“By narrowing our focus on areas that hold the most employment promise and by capitalizing on special situations in our key industries, the WIB is confident that our stimulus funding will be spent effectively to address employment needs in our community,” said Hacopian.

For more information on workforce services, contact the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board at (818) 409-0476 Ext 7310 or contact  Visit the Verdugo Jobs Center at 1255 S. Central Avenue, Glendale for more information on job seeker services.