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Federal Budget Cuts Could Slash Funding for Job Programs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Workforce development programs, like this one at FutureWorks in Springfield, helps unemployed people acquire the skills they need to get hired.

However, the federal Budget Control Act threatens to slash funding to them. It would increase the national debt ceiling, but would also cut more than $2 trillion in federal funding over the next 10 years to employment training programs nationwide.  

“As a one stop career center and we were the first open in the state. We know how important it is right now to be able to have the right people with the right skills to fill an employer’s need. Last year we saw over 15,000 job seekers. This year, in the first quarter we’ve seen 7,000 individuals, 92% of which are unemployed,” said Rexene Picard is the career center’s Executive Director.

Union leaders and job board members met Wednesday to discuss what would happen to the bay state if congress allows these cuts to go through.

At FutureWorks, people can also apply for retraining funds so they can train for new skills that will help them along a different career path.

“These grants are much needed for Western Massachusetts as well as Massachusetts. There’s tons of open positions open now that are going unfilled because people don’t have something as simple as a soft skill, something as simple as English,” stated Fiore Grassetti, President of the Hampshire/Franklin Central Labor Council AFL-CIO.

It’s because of these types of programs that mechanical engineering student Russell Linder can afford to attend Springfield Technical Community College. He says he doesn’t want to see these budget cuts go through. It could not only affect his generation, but the next. “I was doing a lot of research about the C and C field, and mechanical engineering, and it’s grossing outrageously right now. I had to save for 5 years in construction to pay for my schooling and the unemployment’s still not enough,” he says.

Since the economy’s plunge, STCC has seen an uptick in students like Linder looking for a change. “What’s happening is a lot of people who are missing those skills are coming back to us so that they can then apply for those open jobs that are out there,” said Megan Piccus, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

If the Budget Control Act does go into effect, here in Mass. job training programs would lose more than $10 million, and serve 36,000 less people in 2013 alone.

The Budget Control Act is slated to go into effect on January 2nd, 2013.