A Publication of WTVP

Without a doubt, we are experiencing one of the greatest economic downturns in a long while. While the verdict is still out as to its ultimate impact and duration, we do know a few things. First, we know that the current recession is global in nature. This means a number of countries are scrambling to stop the economic bleeding and return their respective economies to stability, and eventually, to growth. This will take some time, but no one knows how much time. The second major problem is that the economic situation is also acute, impacting global financial markets and critical domestic industries.

As we begin to assess our economic circumstances relative to the impact on our workforce, we seem to have a bad news/good news scenario. The bad news is that we are seeing record numbers of layoffs. Nationally, millions of workers have been impacted, and regionally, it has reached the thousands. While the layoffs have been spread across all sectors of the economy, locally, the majority have been from manufacturing and related sectors. This is a result of the global economic slump and its direct impact on the manufacturing industry.

The other bad news is the public human capital infrastructure, including the workforce system, has been severely weakened over the last decade due to a lack of investment and funding cuts. To further complicate the situation, federal and state governments have placed unnecessary and cumbersome restrictions on local communities, hampering their ability to effectively respond to the flood of business cutbacks and worker dislocations. All of this has a cost, not only to those individuals and businesses impacted, but to their families, neighborhoods, communities, units of government and regional economies.

As we attempt to dig our way out of this mess, however, there is some good news. Despite a weakened human capital and workforce development infrastructure, we still have one! Unlike previous downturns, our current regional workforce development system has matured to be one of the best in the country. As a result, our workforce development system has risen to meet the unprecedented challenge.

The public face of our local workforce development system, the Workforce Network is a partnership of 42 organizations working together to provide workforce services and programs to individuals and businesses. Services are available online, in the City of Peoria, and through satellite offices in Marshall, Stark and Woodford counties, and at Manual High School.

Over the last few months, our Workforce Network partnership has served thousands of impacted workers and dozens of businesses. These services have included career fairs, dozens of workshops, assistance with unemployment claims, resume development and career planning, job search assistance, and job training and education assistance.

In upcoming issues, we will talk more about how our community is mobilizing to respond to these unprecedented challenges. iBi