35 on County Workforce Division Staff Warned of Possible Layoffs
Ventura County has issued notices to 35 employees in its new Workforce Development Division warning them that they may be laid off, officials said Wednesday.
In addition, 19 more of the division’s 84 employees may get similar notices soon because of continuing changes in the job-training and placement program, said Personnel Director Ron Komers.
“It was expected but not welcome news,” Komers said of the notices issued Friday. “A number of employees are distressed about losing their jobs.”
Komers said workers were told about the possibility of layoffs in November when the county took over the federally funded Job Training Policy Council, previously run as a private nonprofit agency. The county’s Personnel Department now operates the program through its new Workforce Development Division.
The takeover was part of an effort to more closely link job training with the county’s welfare reform proposals, Komers said. But the move was also motivated by a new law that made the county, which had oversight of the JTPC, liable for any misspent federal money.
The job-training program, which had been plagued by administrative and financial problems in recent years under its previous operator, receives about $9 million annually in federal grants to help train and place low-income residents in jobs, Komers said.
Because of problems experienced by the JTPC, Komers said, all employees were put on probation for job evaluations after the county took over the program.
“The reorganization does relate to past performance,” he said.
Supervisor Frank Schillo said he thinks the county can run the job-training program more cheaply and with better results.
“We don’t believe the program has been administered as efficiently as it could have been,” Schillo said. “If making it more efficient means we have to reduce the work force, then that’s what we’re going to do. To run an inefficient operation is not acceptable.”
Under the reorganization plan, Komers said, all workers will be given the chance to reapply for their jobs. But he said it is unclear how many positions will be left.
He said the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to hire private contractors to administer about $2 million in job-training services. Once this is done, he said, the county will have a better idea of what positions it wants to retain within its Workforce Development Division.