Workforce Redesign (to merge or not to merge that is the question)

In August 1997, the City-County formed a Workforce Redesign Task Force to look at employment and training services and how the City and County could improve these services, whether it be through cooperation, collaboration, or merger. Talk of merger has been heightened because of Federal Legislation that will require that entities receiving Federal dollars must be of a geographic area with a population of 500,000 or more. Ramsey County’s Job Training Budget for Program Year 1997 is 4.5 million, of which approximately 97 % is Federal and State dollars. At the June 9 Board meeting, the City-County Workforce Development Redesign Task Force recommendations were presented. These same recommendations were presented to the St. Paul City Council. Is it time to merge? Are there benefits to all parties—job seekers, employers? Gene Steele, Chair, Ramsey County Workforce Council, stated "that merging work and training programs has been discussed for 13 years, and there were turf issues. What is important is that all parties are involved. It is not only the two Workforce groups, but there are many other people, entities and organizations that must be taken into consideration." Commissioner Rettman asked for a clarification of a memo she received that appeared to be related to job training activities. The memo referred to plans to design and create a new, non-profit corporation to concentrate on services for employers. Is this part of today’s redesign talk? Andy Boss, co-chair of the Community Employment Partnership Employer Task Force, stated "that there is confusion and that his Task Force is concentrating on employer issues and hoping to keep employers involved in job creation." Thus, he asserted there are two separate tracks.

At the June 23 Board meeting, the finalized resolution was presented. Commissioner Rettman requested that the two Resolutions (City and County) have identical language before going forward and added language to protect employees’ rights and benefits. "Any variations from the language presented to the Council, our resolution would be reconsidered."

All Commissioners agreed that this is just a step to discuss the potential to merge, or not to just merge for merger sake.

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