US Government Accountability OfficeSAN BERNARDINO, Calif. /eNewsChannels/ — The Workforce Investment Board (WIB) of San Bernardino County was recognized by the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) for innovative business-friendly programs. The WIB was asked to present to congress how it used Workforce Investment Act funds to encourage job retention and hiring.

In a report titled “Innovative Collaborations between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Local Needs,” the U.S. GAO referenced 14 local initiatives. Two of the initiatives included San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board’s successful collaboration with Technical Employment Training, Inc. and its Rapid Response Layoff Aversion program.

Executive Director Sandy Harmsen testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety in addressing workforce needs at the regional level.

“Our Workforce Investment Board was able to quickly and effectively take action when our region was hit with business closures and lay-offs that affected thousands of residents in San Bernardino County,” Harmsen said. “We knew which industries would need workers in the long-term. Through the relationships we established with industry councils, businesses and educational providers we have deployed federal funds to save jobs, train workers with skills needed by employers and encourage hiring.”

In 2011, the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board’s Business Resource Team performed 27 Rapid Response visits to companies that were laying off employees. More than 1,900 dislocated workers were assisted through Rapid Response which included workshops on understanding unemployment plans, rolling over 401K plans and Cobra benefits. These residents were also introduced to the local Employment Resource Centers (ERCs) for free workshops on job searching, resume writing and interview skills, as well as how they could qualify for no-cost job training programs and job placement support.

“The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board can contribute much to the national conversation on how to put America back to work,” said Supervisor Josie Gonzales, Chair and Fifth District Supervisor.

“For instance, the WIB’s collaboration with Technical Employment Training, Inc., is a great example of how we are working together to prepare a skilled workforce and provide businesses with the manpower needed to grow and diversify. The Technical Employment Training program trains dislocated and disabled workers to attain two National Institute for Metalworking Skills Machining Level 1 certifications. The fact that 90 percent of its first class was placed in jobs with local manufacturers is an awesome success story worth sharing,” added Gonzales.

Last year, 3,370 County residents were trained last year using Workforce Investment Act funds to enter long-term careers in growth industries such as Health Care, Aviation, Transportation and Logistics, Advanced Manufacturing and Environmental Technology.

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 created a comprehensive workforce investment system that brought together multiple federally funded employment and training programs into a single system, called the one-stop system.

About the Workforce Investment Board of San Bernardino County:

The Workforce Investment Board of San Bernardino County is comprised of private business representatives and public partners appointed by the County Board of Supervisors. The Board strives to strengthen the skills of the County’s workforce through partnerships with business, education and community-based organizations.

The Workforce Investment Board, through the County’s Economic Development Agency and Workforce Development Department, operates the County’s Employment Resource Centers (ERCs) and Business Resource Centers (BRCs). The ERCs provide individuals with job training, placement and the tools to strengthen their skills to achieve a higher quality of life. The BRCs support and provide services to the County’s businesses including employee recruitment.

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