(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser announced that the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has removed the District’s designation as a high risk grantee. The designation, which the District first received in 2012, came with sanctions and requirements, such as the submission of a corrective action plan and monthly progress reports. The removal of the designation reflects the vast improvements that have been made at the DC Department of Employment Services during the Bowser Administration. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney R. Snowden and Department of Employment Services (DOES) Director Odie Donald II.
“Our workforce programs have come a long way over the past several years, and today, I am proud to celebrate our progress,” said Mayor Bowser. “My Administration is changing the way job training and apprenticeship programs in DC work, creating new entry points to employment in a wide array of industries, and enabling residents to earn while they learn. Workforce Signing Day showcases our dedication to ensuring residents in every corner of DC have a fair shot at securing good-paying, District jobs.”
The Mayor made today’s announcement at the District’s first Workforce Signing Day, an opportunity to highlight DC’s workforce programs and celebrate program participants who have secured unsubsidized employment with public and private sector employers. Workforce Signing Day, which mirrored the District’s College Signing Day, featured program participants from L.E.A.P. (Learn, Earn, Advance, Prosper), Project Empowerment, DC Career Connections, Back to Work 50+, Aspire to Entrepreneurship, Apprenticeship DC, American Job Center referrals, the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP), and District employers.
“Workforce Signing Day showcases the many workforce partnerships that provide opportunities to District residents and is the perfect note on which to close an exciting DC Works Week,” said DOES Director Odie Donald II. “The removal of the District’s high risk designation by USDOL after nearly six years avows Mayor Bowser’s promise to get more DC residents on pathways to the middle class. We have the honor of working with one of the most vibrant and capable workforce systems in the nation, and this event celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of District residents.”
Starbucks, Hyatt Place, and Donohoe Hospitality Services were all represented at Workforce Signing Day, and eight residents signed offer letters from employers. The event was hosted at the Georgetown Starbucks, a key partner in hiring District youth, and the store’s manager, Xemena Barr, extended offered letters to Office of Youth Programs (OYP) participants who trained with the company.
“We could not be more thrilled to join Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Snowden and Director Donald for this innovative event,” said Thomas Penny III, President of Donohoe Hospitality Services. “Workforce Signing Day is another example of what is possible when the Government of the District of Columbia partners with the private sector to create opportunities for District residents.”
Since January 2015, the unemployment rate in Washington, DC has dropped by 1.1 percentage points, including decreases in all eight wards, and more than 35,000 DC residents have secured employment. Over the past two and a half years, the number of youth served by DOES has increased by 300 percent, and the agency has connected more than 100,000 job seekers and businesses through trainings, employment services, job fairs, and work-based learning programs.
Workforce Signing Day is part of DC Works Week, a celebration of the groundbreaking employers and community stakeholders who shape the District’s workforce system. Throughout the week, the Mayor has been highlighting the improvements and innovations in the city’s workforce system that have led to decreases in unemployment. For updates on DC Works Week, follow #DCWorks on social media.