JEFFERSON CITY - Unemployment benefits and job training will assume an entirely different look in the state of Missouri if Gov. Mel Carnahan has his way.
Touched upon in his state of the state address on Wednesday morning, Carnahan called the existing system of unemployment benefits and job training, otherwise known as workforce, "fragmented," and added that it "is not as efficient and user friendly as it could be."
To remedy this inefficiency, Carnahan called for the formation of a new agency.
"Our administration wants to create a Division of Workforce Development," stated Carnahan.
He elaborated on his proposal by saying, "All employment, training, and job-matching functions from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will move to the new division. This consolidation will be a huge improvement for both workers and employers."
Carnahan's plan includes the transfering of $31.8 million located in workforce development in the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and adding it to the existing $71.1 million in workforce development in the Department of Economic Development.
In his budget and legislative agenda for fiscal year 2000, Carnahan cited nine goals aimed at maximizing efficiency in workforce development. The need to create a central location to collect employment and training information topped the list while the remainder of the items focussed on the training and placement of workers.
Despite an overwhelmingly favorable response to Carnahan's consolidation proposal, opposition came from groups who will be affected by the mass-movement, outlined in the plan.
Sam Licklider, lobbyist for Missouri realtors noted an unpublicized side-effect of Carnahan's idea.
"The only issue that doesn't make sense is moving professional registration, currently in economic development, over to the department of labor," stated Licklider. Carnahan's proposal would compensate for movements to the Department of Economic Development by sending several groups from Economic Development to the Department of Industrial Relations in order to maintain the department's size.
"Real-estate people feel that they're a major issue in economic development and they're not exactly sure why they're being moved," added Licklider. He continued by stating that the governor's office had given him and his clients a number of reasons attempting to justify the move, however none of them left Missouri realtors satisfied.
Included in the budget proposal was a $28.2 million initiative aimed at workforce preparation. To be distributed among nine benefactors, the initiative targets education and vocational training.
Carnahan concluded his proposal on workforce development by stating, "Employers will find workforce services to be more responsive to their needs, and Missourians will be better prepared for the jobs that are available to them in the labor force."