Federal budget cuts threaten local career centers - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Federal budget cuts threaten local career centers

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FutureWorks in Springfield is an important career center in the Pioneer Valley that job-seekers use to find and get trained for jobs.

However, The Budget Control Act (BCA) is threatening to cut workforce development programs  nationwide and in Western Massachusetts by Jan. 2, 2013.

According to the National Skills Coalition, the Commonwealth could lose more than $10 million, putting career centers like FutureWorks at a severe disadvantage.

"This is funding that goes to our one-stop career centers, which help over 20,000 people in the region, which train over 1,000 people for employment," said William Ward, executive director of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County.  

These cuts would remain in place until 2021. During that time, Massachusetts is expected to lose $96.3 million in funding for workforce development programs.

During Wednesday's press conference, one of the biggest concerns among workforce officials was the decrease in the number of people that could be trained for jobs, if the federal cuts take effect.

Since casino plans have also been proposed for this area, this only adds to the growing demand for qualified employees, particularly to fill potential gaming industry jobs.

"The key that we're concerned about is that when these casinos come online, wherever they are, that we have the people locally trained to be competitive and qualified to get those jobs," Ward said.

It's not only the gaming industry jobs that may need to be filled in the long-run, construction jobs are also needed. President of the Hampshire and Franklin Labor Council Fiore Grassetti said that it's more important than ever that construction workers get the training necessary because construction projects are increasing.

"There's all type of private jobs going on. We still have the rebuilding of a lot of schools, these cities and towns need money and funding to get these projects on the road, that money, in funding, is needed to educate the workers and put them in our industry," Grassetti said.  

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