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This week, professional staff from the state's One Stop workforce centers, plus their employees, elected officials and others are in Myrtle Beach for a training session, to learn how to improve workforce development in South Carolina.
Their focus is on helping put the jobless back to work in a hurry.
"Our goal is to reengage them very, very quickly," said Dr. Peggy Torrey, of the South Carolina Dept. of Employment and Workforce.
Torrey says the problem is, there's often a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the skills people have.
So Workforce Centers will start separating the unemployed into four categories, based on their level of education, to help them get the skills they need.
"If they don't have a GED or high school diploma, we get them that very quickly. If they have skills that have become outdated, we get them into some occupational skill training. If they are close to an associates degree, we can actually pay for an associates degree," Torrey said.
But that takes money and these are tight times for state agencies. Torrey says it looks like the workforce development budget will be OK this year.
"For the work that's going on here, the federal government has seen a need to keep a level funding or even increase the funding a bit to help with re-employment efforts."
Last year, the department took a 9-percent across-the-board cut in funding. Torrey says so far this year, funding looks stable.
LAKE ELSINORE: District says furloughs would avert layoffs
2:27 AM PST on Friday, January 21, 2011
By MICHELLE L. KLAMPE
Source: Click Here
The Lake Elsinore Unified School District won't need to issue layoff notices this year if employees agree to take six furlough days in 2011-12, Assistant Superintendent George Landon told the school board at a meeting Thursday.
The furloughs would be needed only under a "worst-case" budget scenario, Landon said. If voters approve the tax measures the governor is proposing for the June ballot, the furloughs wouldn't be needed, he said.
"I don't know what the voters are going to do in June," he said. "We're going to assume the worst-case scenario."
The district would face a roughly $11 million shortfall next year if the measures fail, Landon said. The district can use reserves of about $5.5 million to cover a portion of the shortfall, and officials expect to save about $1 million more through an early-retirement incentive for employees.
The furloughs would reduce expenditures by about $3.8 million.
District and teachers union officials are scheduled to meet for a negotiating session today, and representatives for both sides said an agreement could be reached before March 15, the date by which school districts must notify teachers if they may not have a job next year.
"We're very optimistic we can reach another satisfactory resolution," Superintendent Frank Passarella said.
Terry Harris, president of the Lake Elsinore Teachers Association, said such an agreement would likely look similar to the two previous years' deals, which included a provision to restore cuts if the budget improved.
"We've been building trust" through those agreements, because the district did restore cuts when money became available, Harris said.
In other business, the school board gave administrators the OK to move forward with creation of a virtual school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The district already offers some virtual classes for high school students; the new program would expand offerings to all grades.
Passarella said he expects the virtual school to open by August, in time for the 2011-12 school year.
Such a school could bring additional students, and additional money, to the school district, board President Sue Scott said.
Reach Michelle L. Klampe at 951-375-3740 or mklampe@PE.com
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