Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Readies Rapid Response for State Workers Facing Layoffs

February 24, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823 Dale Hopkins (608) 249-9001
County Executive

Dane County will be ready to help state workers who may lose their jobs due to proposed cuts in the state budget, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said today. She was joined at a noon press conference by representatives of the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison Area Technical College and United Way of Dane County. “We know anxiety levels are high,” said Falk. “This is an issue that faces our entire community, and we are responding as a community. Our Dane County Job Center and community partners are readying an array of services.” Falk said that community services have already helped individuals in recent larger scale layoffs from Rayovac, Humana, CUNA Mutual Group and K-Mart, among others. The state layoffs, however, may result in the single largest layoff in Dane County in recent memory. Governor Jim Doyle in his budget address last week said 2,900 positions will be eliminated statewide. He has pledged to achieve the savings needed through these position cuts with as few layoffs as possible, using retirement incentives and attrition to eliminate positions that are vacant. State agencies are also looking to reassign workers within the department they are now serving. Nevertheless, the Governor said there will be actual layoffs. The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, Inc. (WDB), is the local organization charged with initiating a “rapid response” to employers and employees facing significant layoffs. The WDB of South Central Wisconsin serves Dane, Columbia, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk counties. Dale Hopkins, executive director of the Workforce Development Board, recently met with over 100 human resources managers from state agencies to kick-start a coordinated response using available resources in Dane and surrounding counties. The WDB is working with the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development to prepare and submit grants targeted to help workers affected by company downsizing or closing, and government workforce reductions, including the State of Wisconsin. The grant requests will supplement and expand the state and local capability to respond to worker dislocation in the six-county area, including Dane County. There have been 1,853 jobs lost to layoffs in companies in the six-county area since April 2002, that have been addressed by Rapid Response team action. That figure is higher, when layoffs not covered by Rapid Response efforts are included. “Our goal is to make it possible for workers to find jobs that are comparable in skill level and wage to the job they lost,” said Hopkins. For individuals who, for various reasons, cannot return to a similar job or occupation, retraining opportunities are possible. Individuals who may be laid off from the state will receive comprehensive information through a Rapid Response team, organized by the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin. The Rapid Response team members meet with the employees as a group, usually at the workplace site. This is the first step in obtaining services such as: -- Unemployment Insurance -- Pension Benefits & Health Insurance Coverage -- Job Search Assistance -- Job Referral -- Local Area Job Openings -- Resume Assistance -- Training and education opportunities -- Veterans benefits, and -- Starting a business Local partners with the Workforce Development Board include: The Dane County Job Center, Dane County Human Services, Dane County Veterans Services office, Madison Area Technical College, United Way of Dane County, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Department of Commerce, UW-Small Business Development Center, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Unemployment Insurance. Madison Area Technical College will target efforts by offering career guidance, resume review and writing, job search strategies and interviewing strategies at convenient times and outreach locations. MATC’s Advising and Career Resource Center will also provide information and services related to job search strategies. “We hope to lessen the impact of these layoffs through a variety of services,” said Ed Clarke, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for MATC. He said MATC will tailor their free services to best meet the needs of specific job categories, skill levels and career goals. This year MATC has already provided retraining opportunities to 1000 dislocated workers in conjunction with the Workforce Development Board, said Clarke. “Supplementing all of these services are a variety of training programs to help workers get back into the workforce,” said Clarke, citing MATC’s over 100 programs targeted to career areas, short term certificates and training targeted to existing job openings, and on-line courses. Bob Brennan, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, pledged that the business members of his organization are active participants in a plan to address the needs of people facing layoff. Falk said that the county already has a wide array of services through the Dane County Job Center on Aberg Avenue, providing assessment of eligibility for government subsidies, and programs to help find training and education, new employment, and assistance for families going through transition. For general employment information in Dane County, individuals can visit the Dane County Job Service office at 1819 Aberg Avenue in Madison to access a variety of state and local employment resources. The job center can also be reached by phone at 245-5390 or on the internet at Workers who have been laid off or who are facing layoff may wish to contact the Dane County Human Services Department's "Connections" line at 242-7441 to see what economic assistance programs, such as BadgerCare, that they might be eligible for. “Losing a job takes an emotional toll, also,” said Leslie Ann Howard, President of United Way of Dane County. “We want families to know that they can call “211” to get help and information on a wide range of resources and assistance.” People calling United Way 211 receive free, confidential assistance from a trained professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Using a comprehensive resource database, 211 community resource specialists listen to the caller’s needs or questions and helps link people to the right community resources. “Our aim is to treat each person with respect and to do all we can to provide direction and services that best meet their individual needs,” said Falk. # # #