Proposal seeks to revive workforce plan

Following a scathing audit of The City’s workforce program, a proposal to centralize job placement efforts and establish accountability measures is being widely embraced.

An August audit conducted by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose found the city’s multimillion dollar program was failing to place desperate workers in jobs and was riddled with inefficiencies.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation to centralize the city’s workforce efforts under the direction of Rhonda Simmons, who Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed last year as the director of Workforce Development — a new position created to oversee the improvement of the workforce system.

Mirkarimi said Simmons was put into an impossible position given the way the city has been handling workforce efforts.

Among the audits findings was that The City’s three one-stop centers, which are designed to place adults in jobs, had 13,157 clients last fiscal year and only 2,054 people, or 15.6 percent, ended up actually finding jobs. These centers also served 3,412 people under the age of 25 and only 140 found jobs, according to the report.

The legislation would require a comprehensive citywide workforce development plan, the identification of all the money the city receives for workforce efforts, and ultimately an annual spending plan that would require approval by the Board of Supervisors. The spending plan would include performance measures and reports on the outcomes of the efforts.

Mirkarimi estimated that last fiscal year 11 city departments received between $40 million and $70 million for workforce programs. “The City is not getting anything close to the value it should for the money it spends,” Mirkarimi said.

The legislation was widely praised during an Oct. 18 committee hearing, finding support from business interest groups and community activists.

“The jobs are there in this community,” said Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Lazarus said the legislation would develop “a model for the 21st century that will work.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano said it was a “noble program that can work,” and called on city department heads and Newsom to support the legislation.

The legislation is before the Board of Supervisors Rule Committee today, and is expected to be forwarded to the full board for a vote on Tuesday, where it is expected to be approved.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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