Durbin Visits Workforce Center, Discusses Need for Critical Support Services

[ELGIN, IL] – With the economic recovery lagging and unemployment still high, access for displaced workers to job retraining and career counseling is more critical than ever, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today at the Elgin workNet Center.


Although the national unemployment rate dipped slightly during the month of July – down to 9.1 percent – there are still five job-seekers for every job in America. In addition, 6.5 million American workers have been unemployed for six months or longer, making access to job retraining programs critical to help them learn and maintain skills in fast developing industries.


“Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are looking hard for new work need help. Workforce development facilities help those workers who are determined to find new jobs learn the skills they need to find employment in their geographic area, while at the same time matching them with potential employers in need of those skills. At a time when nearly 14 million Americans remain unemployed, and the unemployment rate in Elgin is above 11 percent, we must maintain critical services that are helping get people back to work,” said Durbin.


“As we consider ways to reduce our deficit and get our nation back on stable financial footing, we must commit ourselves to putting everything – underline everything – on the table. The spending cuts that have been made this year have all came from non-defense domestic discretionary spending, just 12 percent of the budget, which represents funding for Head Start, Pell Grants, the National Institute of Health, and workforce development programs like the one here in Elgin. We shouldn't take a hatchet to the federal budget. We need to cut, but we need to do so in a thoughtful, careful manner that does not endanger the federal resources used to get the unemployed and underemployed back to work.”


“When it comes to righting the nation’s finances, we must protect the essential services – such as unemployment insurance and job re-training – that are helping families make ends meet and getting people back to work. As we look for new ways to move our nation forward, we must take care that we don’t cut too deeply, and that we protect important programs that are worth the investment,” Durbin said.


The workNet Center in Elgin is one of 113 “one-stop” career centers in Illinois that are funded through the Workforce Investment Act, which is the primary source of federal funding for worker training and re-training. In addition, WIA incumbent worker dollars help businesses upgrade the skills of their current employees, allowing them to stay competitive and retain their workforce.


There are 26 local workforce development boards and 113 one-stop centers in Illinois that rely on WIA funding to provide their services. During Program Year 2010, Illinois served more than 74,000 Illinois residents. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate that would reauthorize WIA – which was first passed in 1998 – while making significant changes to the delivery system. Current funding for the program is provided to the states in block grants and then distributed to the local workforce development boards.