Last week I joined Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Imperial County) to advocate for $25 million to fund our “Breaking Barriers” for career tech education initiative. Last year, as a principal co-author for Assembly Bill 1111, we worked to help vulnerable populations obtain important middle skills jobs to meet the growing economy.
Under AB 1111, Local Workforce Development Boards partner with community-based organizations with proven track records of serving populations identified in the bill who face identifiable barriers to employment. These include youth disconnected from the education system, previously incarcerated, women seeking training or education to move from non-traditional fields of employment, displaced workers, the long-term unemployed, English-language learners, the economically disadvantaged, transitioning veterans, persons over 50 and many more.
Though the bill passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support and was chaptered into law, the program has remained unfunded in the State Budget. With the improving economy and state revenues beating proposed estimates by over $2 billion for next year, now is the time to fund workforce programs. Since national data from 2015 shows a return on workforce investment of $1.71 for every dollar invested, it will be money well spent.
Over 20% of California’s population lives below the poverty level. By creating an expanding pool of skilled, well-paid workers, we’ll move people up the workforce ladder and off public assistance, expand our economy, increase tax revenues and most importantly, get people out of poverty.