By GREGORY N. HEIRES
All too often, employers set up training programs without the help of those who know the best way to improve the workplace — workers and their unions.
A new report from the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, highlights the key ingredients of successful public sector training partnerships between unions and governments.
“The benefits of public sector training programs are clear: Workers gain the skills they need to be successful in good, middle-class jobs, while city and state employers are able to obtain and retain the highly trained, diverse workforce they need,” said Karla Walter, director of employment policy at the Center for American Progress and author of the report.
She added: “Moreover, training partnerships provide a tangible example of the benefits of unionization to workers and thereby help to sustain public sector unions, in spite of attacks by corporate interest groups.”
One of the case studies highlighted by the report is a fellowship program for entry-level information technology workers that DC 37 developed with the City University of New York and the city.
The program helps participants become full-time permanent employees by covering the cost of civil service exams and placing them in positions at different city agencies.
The program is part of a larger effort by the union to work with the city to create hundreds of IT positions to cover work previously done by consultants.
“Our promotion of information technology work is helping create a younger and more diverse workforce,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “This is assisting the city to address its personnel needs as it deals with the large number of workers approaching retirement.”
Other cases cited by the report, “Public Sector Training Partnerships Build Power,” include:
▪ a four-week boot camp for new teachers in Pinellas County, Fla., that prepares them for the classroom and helps increase retention,
▪ A sanitation worker apprenticeship in Phoenix, Ariz., that helps recruit women, veterans and youth and
▪ a program that offers government employees in Oregon training to help them make smart choices when saving for retirement and choosing health-care plans.
The report draws from a large body of research that finds that these sorts of programs can help employers recruit and retain skilled workers; improve work quality; boost productivity; increase the diversity of the public sector workforce; and ensure that government is better able to serve diverse populations.
At the same time, public-sector training programs give workers access to good jobs and career advancement opportunities while helping to ensure that public sector unions sustain high levels of membership.