Darn You Colleen LaRose! You Forced Me To Think

These are my own thoughts and do not represent the policies or even discussions of the Delaware Workforce Investment Board, The Delaware Department of Labor, or the state of Delaware.

Good Morning All! Colleen LaRose’s recent column about Atlantic City http://linkd.in/151azJK really got me thinking. Not so much about, Atlantic City, NJ becoming the wedding capital of the East, but rather the employment and training issues related to the soon to be defunct Workforce Investment Act And the other sundry workforce development programs.

It’s a hard nut to crack.

According to Colleen, the federal government will ante up about $29 million for dislocated worker services after several casinos closed in Atlantic City. A recent article at Philly.com http://bit.ly/1CkegVM says it is a National Emergency Grant.

All good news.

But here is the thing. That presents more questions than answers – at least to me.

It wasn’t so long ago that workforce development agencies responded to the Great Recession by enthusiastically training dislocated workers to take advantage of employment opportunities in table gaming.

Mock casino in training schools popped up through the mid-Atlantic states presenting a cornucopia of programs for workers needing retraining – many from auto-plant closures. Chips clicked and die rolled in preparation for job interviews (aka auditions) — there is a metaphor in here I don’t have time to explore.

It was ubiquitous. Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania fought and sought to get in on the gaming train.

To be fair, people got jobs. The quality and type of jobs is left for another day to discuss. But people were able to keep the lights on and feed their babies – until the bottom began falling.

And now … The story is still unfolding; we don’t know yet.

What should we have done – the workforce developers like me?

Was there a labor market data point we missed? Was there a labor-shed lesson somewhere in the bushes that went uncovered? Were there economic forces invisible to us then that are visible now? Is the worst over and did we train people for jobs open yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

I don’t know what the answer(s) is/are ; I just know Colleen’s posting got me thinking and there a lot of questions still in the offing?

I hate thinking — It usually results in work!


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