By Brittany Llorente
PORT ST. LUCIE -- When out of a job, turning to a job placement agency is ideal.
When jobs and the economy start moving in a positive direction, the funding for these programs decrease.
This is the issue that Workforce Solutions has had to face this year with a nearly $4.85 million decrease from last year's budget. Because of this decrease, the job placement center laid off 16 employees last month.
"Our budgets have always had an inverse relationship with the economy," Richard Stetson, Workforce Solutions President/CEO said in a press release. "In tough economic conditions like those experienced recently, funding swells with increase in program funding and special initiatives and in good economic conditions, our budgets don't fare well."
During the last several years, the budget for Workforce Solutions has fluctuated dramatically.
In the 2008/09 program year, the budget was a little over $7 million. The next year's budget hit a high of $12.6 million during the peak of the recession, falling back to pre-recession budgets this past year.
Of the 16 employees who were laid off, seven were employed by Workforce Solutions. The other nine were employees of the State of Florida whose positions were no longer funded by the state.
These layoffs impacted all of the regional offices in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties.
Odaly Victorio, communications coordinator for Workforce Solutions, said that with the unemployment rate dropping, those who have been out of work are seeking ways to get into the job field.
"We have full centers," Ms. Victorio said. "The cutbacks don't mean that less people are coming in to use our services. It just means less money for training, but we will still assist in every way possible."
The center is has found ways to make the center maintain their quality service with the cutbacks.
"We try to ensure that they don't notice a difference," Ms. Victorio said. "The system we use is able to be accessed at home, which cuts back on visits to the centers. In time there might be some consolidations, but we're not there yet."
In the month of June, just after the layoffs, Workforce Solutions had 943 people register for their services and helped 11,858 people who were already registered.
Services include workshops at partner schools including Keiser University and Indian River State College, local food banks and the Department of Children and Families.
Workforce Solutions will continue to work with companies through the region, helping those who have been laid off or have received a notice from their employer.
Assistance is available online at www.yourworkforcesolutions.com.
Workforce Solutions is located at 616 S.E. Central Parkway, Stuart. For more information, call (772) 214-3174.