Many residents in the District of Columbia are unsure if the new head of the Workforce Investment Council (WIC) will improve the department’s reputation amongst Washingtonians.
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal will serve as the new head of WIC, a private sector-led board which advises the mayor, city council and other District government entities on ways the city can better invest in workforce development and job training.
In a Facebook posting, the mayor said, “This morning, I announced Andy Shallal as the new chair of the DC Workforce Investment Counecil (WIC). Andy is committed to improving workforce development and moving our city forward.”
She believes Shallal is the perfect candidate for the job because has had personal and work experience across a wide range issue in the District.
In an official statement she states, “Since Andy came to the District five decades ago, he has made his mark on our city – as an artist, restauranteur, activist, and philanthropist. He has personally trained and hired hundreds of District residents, and I’m thrilled that he will help take our workforce system to new heights.”
As owner of the trendy Busboys and Poets local restaurant and bookstore chain, and popular Eatonville Restaurant inside the Beltway, the mayor wants to use his knowledge and know-how to conceptualize ways to aid the District in serving the city’s employers. Shallal’s appointment is essential because the WIC has been without a board chair since the spring; previously, Michael Harreld, PNC Bank Regional President, held the position but resigned due to disagreements with Bowser’s administration
Shallal didn’t mince his words when talking about the state of the District’s employee force. He said in part, “…there are more jobs than people in the District, too many DC residents do not have the education and the skills to fill those jobs…” But still, he’s optimistic. “I am ready to get to work…”, and, “to improve workforce development…”
Numerous Washingtonians, especially those who have received assistance [or tried to] from workforce development, or the DC Department of Health and Human Services, are not sure they can completely comprehend why services have been so poor, but obvious answers point to bureaucratic obstacles, and dysfunction within the District’s many workforce agencies. In recent years, these agencies halted tens of millions of dollars to be spent in providing heavily needed job training for thousands of the unemployed D.C. citizens. City officials blame underspending on a shortage of nonprofit training providers because many organizations No longer participate due to the city not paying them on time in the past, yet, the Department of Labor cites low enrollments, under-expenditures and poor performance from both the training facility and participants.
The WIC has a unique position whereas it serves as both the state and local area workforce investment board, and is responsible for advising the Mayor, Council, and the District government on the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of an integrated and effective workforce investment system.
Its Board Members are comprised of representatives from the private-sector, organized labor, nonprofit organizations, and District government. It [the Board] represents a diverse range of stakeholders, with the majority of board members coming from the private-sector officials.