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Michigan Business Beat | Ryan Hundt Michigan Works! Association Wagner-Peyser Rule Change

Michigan Celebrates Small Business
May 9, 2022 6:00 PM

Chris Holman welcomes Ryan Hundt, CEO, Michigan Works! Association, Lansing, MI, but serving statewide.
Watch Ryan and Chris discuss the rule changes for Wagner-Peyser in the YouTube video shared below:

I understand there are some significant US Department of Labor rule changes being proposed regarding the Wagner-Peyser Act. What impact do these proposed rule changes have on Michigan and why is that important?

· These proposed rules would require State of Michigan employees to deliver Wagner-Peyser Act Employment Services instead of the staff at the local Michigan Works! offices across the state.

· This change would end Michigan’s long-standing service delivery model utilizing local staff that ensure responsiveness, efficiency, and excellent customer service.

· If fully implemented, these rules would have a catastrophic effect across the Michigan Works! System, impacting approximately 21 percent of statewide Michigan Works! Staff (200 individuals) who fully, or in part, deliver Wagner-Peyser Employment Services under the existing structure.

· These services would then be shifted to a much smaller number of state civil service staff who are not trained in Wagner-Peyser service delivery, lack local relationships, and would not be available in all regions of the state.

· Additionally, employers across the state continue to struggle with accessing qualified talent.

· Therefore, it is imperative that the current increased flexibility in allowing local discretion when choosing the most effective means of service delivery to both job seekers and employers be preserved.

Why is USDOL making these proposed rule changes?

· The primary argument made by USDOL for this rule change is that switching to state civil service staff will allow for alignment with each state’s unemployment system.

· This is not a valid argument because when there is a surge in unemployment there is a correlated surge in the need to register to work.

· The Michigan Works! network has always been, and continues to be, dedicated to serving communities across the state in ways that bring the most value and have the most positive impact on Michigan residents and the COVID-19 pandemic was no exception.

· During the early days of the pandemic, there was an unprecedented influx of unemployment claims that needed to be moved through the system and our seasoned Michigan Works! staff volunteered to assist, handling over 720,000 calls with patience, empathy, and professionalism.

· When claimants were unable to get a response from UIA they were able to obtain not only a response but also assistance and a resolution to their issues from Michigan Works!.

What programs currently administered by Michigan Works! statewide network would be impacted by these proposed rule changes?

· Refugee and Immigrant Navigator Services – support to immigrants and refugees who need support with job search, education, English as a Second Language, credential transfer, and supportive services.

· Clean Slate – expungement services to Michigan residents including attorney fees, legal documentation fees, fingerprints, and Clean Slate navigation.

· Industry-Led Collaboratives – groups of employers who work collaboratively to develop talent solutions including apprenticeships, training program curriculum, and other regional workforce efforts.

· Job Fairs/Virtual Job Fairs – both employers and job seekers benefit from local job fairs to facilitate employee/employer match. Without WP-ES funds, the flexibility to serve the general public diminishes.

· Veterans Services – job search and workforce services to veterans. (Note: Veterans who are not eligible to meet with a State of Michigan Veterans Career Advisor are served by WP-ES staff.)

· K-12 Career Awareness Events – Talent Tours, MiCareerQuest, Manufacturing Day, K-12 events, Apprenticeship events, and other career events would not be possible without the staffing flexibility to support these events.

· Business Services – support to businesses posting jobs, hosting on-site hiring events, matching candidates, and developing talent solutions.

· Going PRO Talent Fund - the upfront work supporting companies with identifying their needs and submitting an application is partially funded by WP-ES. This year, GPTF Admin is also WP-ES funded.

· Job Seeker Workshops – Workshops for the general public, including resume writing, interviewing, LinkedIn, etc. could be discontinued.

· Employer Workshops – Sessions on hiring diverse talent pools, innovative recruiting strategies, employing individuals with disabilities, etc. may be discontinued.

· Career and Educational Advisory Councils – advisory to workforce boards and comprised of key regional leaders, this innovative group would not have staff support or funding to continue.

· Service Center Operations – computer labs, resource rooms, technology, websites, and other resources available at Michigan Works! locations.

· Partnerships/Community Events– innovative partnerships with community partners could be impacted because everyone we serve would have to be WIOA-eligible. WP-ES allows services to the general public with no documentation.

What is Michigan Works! doing to combat these proposed rule changes?

· Staff who are currently supported by Wagner-Peyser funding have worked tirelessly to build relationships with local businesses, higher education, nonprofits, Pre-K through 12-education, adult education providers, and other partners.

· These staff also have a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion ensuring that job seekers and employers from all backgrounds are provided the best service possible.

· Mandating the use of state civil service staff to deliver Employment Services would contradict the vision of an integrated workforce development system under WIOA.

· Businesses and job seekers alike are better served when local workforce development boards are empowered to provide flexible, braided programs that help strengthen employment outcomes.

· With these things in mind, the Association is working closely with national workforce organizations, local partners, as well as state and federal lawmakers to stop these rule changes from happening.

· We have a multi-pronged approach focused on advocacy, policy analysis, and communications.

How can our listeners help Michigan Works! fight these proposed rule changes?

· In 2021, Wagner-Peyser services delivered through the Michigan Works! the network served over 206,000 job seekers, with 4.8% being veterans, 2.3% receiving public assistance, and 4.5% stating they had a disability.

· Because these proposed rule changes would impact so many Michigan residents, we would greatly appreciate any support we can get in this fight.

· I encourage Michigan residents to contact their state and federal lawmakers, asking them to help stop these rule changes from happening.

How can our listeners learn more about the Michigan Works! Association and the Michigan Works! network?

· You can visit the Association website at michiganworks.org to learn more about the Association.

· On the Association website, you will also find a map that will link you to the websites of each of our Michigan Works! organizations.

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