ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development chaired by Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory, met Thursday at the Capitol Building, to receive testimony on the status of the OneStop Operator Program, Federal Employment Services Program and the impact on the employees at the Department of Labor. Lawmakers also voted on a bill regarding the Youth Transitional Employment Program. The item will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
Upon the completion of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Comprehensive Compliance Review, it was determined that the V.I. State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) is in an Ã¢â‚¬Å“Inadequate Procurement of One-Stop Operator Program,Ã¢â‚¬Â and was issued a negative Finding, according to Gary Molloy, Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Labor. The One-Stop Operator oversees and manages the American Job Center for Adult Dislocated Workers. A One-Stop Center is a central hub for those seeking employment to access services and apply to job vacancies. Federal guidelines mandate that the One-Stop Operator is selected through a competitive bidding process that is up for consideration every four years and the performance of the One-Stop Operator must be evaluated periodically. However, Commissioner Molloy stated that V.I. State Workforce Development Board did not follow Federal guidelines. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need to be better. As respective leaders for various agencies, accountability is a must,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Sen. Frett Gregory.
Ultimately, to be up to par with federal compliance, SWDB solicited another One-Stop Operator and the Local Workforce Development Boards issued RFPÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in which an evaluation team will select a qualified bidder; according to Commissioner Molloy. Michael Carty, Chairman of SWDB added that the RFP was published locally and nationwide resulting in several bidders. SWDB and the Property and Procurement began the process to select the highest bidder. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This discussion has been ongoing for a while and now is the time to finally get things right. Growing the workforce in the Virgin Islands will set the course for young people to have an opportunity to work in the Territory for years to come,Ã¢â‚¬Â Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr said.
Moreover, lawmakers received testimony on the Federal Employment Services and Program and the impact on employees at VIDOL. Commissioner Molloy stated that the Employment and Training Administration adopted the Wagner-Peyser Act Staffing Flexibility final rule which allows for traditional labor exchange and employment services to support the Foreign Labor Certification Program. Separately, the Division of Personnel (DOP) Director Dayna Clendinen mentioned that she is collaborating with VIDOL and the Office of Collective Bargaining (OCB) to address forthcoming layoffs. Thus far, resumes were submitted to DOP for job placements within GVI and DOP will conduct onsite job interviews with assistance from VIDOL. Sen. Frett Gregory inquired whether VIDOL discussed the pending layoffs with employees. In response, Commissioner Malloy stated that OCB, unions, and employees were informed as of early January. Approximately, nineteen VIDOL employees are slated to be laid off.
Lastly, lawmakers voted favorably for Bill No. 33-0223- An Act amending Title 24, chapter 19, section 616(a)(2) of the Virgin Islands Code by requiring the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Labor to approve any proposed Youth Transitional Employment Program within three months after receipt of the application. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This measure is a viable option for young people to gain valuable skills that prepares them for the workforce,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Sen. Steven Payne, Bill Sponsor. OMB Director Jenifer OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal stated that the Youth Transitional Employment Fund is funded by the Ã¢â‚¬Å“initial and renewal license fees for firearms.Ã¢â‚¬Â Currently, there is $1,321,628.75 in the account. ###