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June 6, 2002     (512) 463-0300

Workforce Development Examined by Senate Subcommittee

Job training is an important part of creating an educated workforce, that was one of the conclusions from a Senate subcommittee in Austin this morning. The Senate Committee on Business and Commerce Workforce Development Subcommittee is looking at exactly which programs work and which don't.

Dr. Ray Perryman, President of the Perryman Group, discussed the effectiveness of job training programs. He told the members that the recent SmartJobs program did not work as expected due to changes not only in the program, but also in the marketplace. Cheryl Fuller from the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness spoke not only about the SmartJobs program, but also about similar programs in other states and how successful they've been.

The Texas Department of Economic Development (TDED) then gave an overview of what it is doing with job training. Board Chairman Massey Villarreal and Executive Director Jeff Moseley said that the economic climate over the past year certainly has not helped. They also suggested a shorter training period for job applicants so that more people could benefit from the service and that the training program could quickly respond to a changing job market.

Diane Rath, Ron Lehman and Terrence P. O'Mahoney from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) completed today's invited testimony. Rath described the unemployment trust fund and how it has operated in recent years. The trust fund has been in existence through the recession of the 80s and the boom times of the 90s. She said that since the SmartJobs program was financed by the trust fund, the up and down nature of the fund has caused erratic funding for SmartJobs. Lehman described other funds designed to help train Texans and how those accounts are funded. He also said that while the SmartJobs program may be ending, many parts of it still have merit. O'Mahoney testified on behalf of labor's concerns.

The Senate Committee on Business and Commerce Workforce Development Subcommittee is chaired by Senator Troy Fraser. Members include Senators Mike Jackson, Leticia Van de Putte, Eddie Lucio, Eliot Shapleigh and John Carona. The subcommittee recessed subject to call of the chair.

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