I'm sharing this appeal on behalf of a good Lean friend, Karl Wadensten from VIBCO in Rhode Island.
Karl is fired up, rightfully so, because the Rhode Island state legislature has proposed cutting some previously-promised employee training funds. Believe it not, business and the unions are united in their view that it's wrong to cut that funding.
If you're in (or near) Rhode Island, there is a rally TODAY at 4 PM at the State House. More details follow.
As Karl wrote to me:
I have learned that the State Legislature intends to pull the rug out from under the 2010 Workforce Training Grants that were supposed to be awarded in April.
$2.5M of the Job Development Fund, which finances the Incumbent Worker Training program has been TAKEN AWAY and must be transferred to the State Controller on June 30, 2010. No Training Grant funds will be awarded this year.
This issue means a lot to me personally, because VIBCO's Lean Transformation was made possible, in part, because we took advantage of these same grant dollars to support our Lean Training. It's not so much about the training grants themselves… it's that pulling those funds is symptomatic of rampant arrogance and disregard for the well-being of Rhode Island businesses by our General Assembly.
If we don't have trained employees, how the hell can we as businesses expect to hire the 12.7% unemployed and compete in the global economy?
The General Assembly created an expectation that these funds were being set aside for training grants; they spent money getting the word out to the community; they put applicants through a bunch of hoops and administrative work to fill out an application form which means spending time on it and planning for having the training as part of budgeting; and then they pull the plug on the program because they realize there is simply no money for it.
Even if you don't believe that the state should be paying for the training for employees of private companies, it seems pretty wasteful to invite companies to put time and money into applications and then pulling it out from under them. But then again, if the state doesn't have any money you have to cut somewhere. On the fourth hand, it can be argued that training dollars provide a better return than tax breaks to big corporations to “create jobs.”
There's this video from YouTube:
You can also read this article from a “progressive” labor site that agrees with Karl, the business owner: “Killing the Job Development Fund is just plain stupid“.
Here's a news story on the proposed cuts and the rally: “Businesses to rally for job training funds.”
From that story:
The board had been prepared to award grants last week to about 40 local businesses through its Comprehensive Worker Training program, but the announcements were abruptly suspended when legislative plans to remove money from the job training fund were released.
The matching grants of up to $50,000 each would be used to reduce the costs for companies to retrain existing employees rather than potentially laying them off.
You can go to the State House in Providence at 4 PM to join the rally, if you like.
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