Assist Displaced State Workers

The state should assist state employees displaced by state cost reduction recommendations by providing a plan to obtain outplacement services and other transition assistance.


Background
The Texas Performance Review of state agencies operations and programs and other state efforts to reduce the budget shortfall encompass ways to improve customer service, make government more enterprising, efficient and effective, build a better future for all citizens and save the state money. If impl emented as proposed, some of these recommendations are projected to result in the displacement of state employees. Although the number of the state s workers that would be displaced is a small percentage of the total work force, losing a job is painful and stressful. Providing displaced workers some assistance in transitioning, such as advance notification and consideration for other vacant state positions, would alleviate some of the stress.

There are programs available for displaced workers to help them find new employment or retraining for other jobs. Title III of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), administered by the Texas Department of Commerce (TDOC), provides federal funds for outp lacement services. The Austin-Travis County Private Industry Council is the administrative entity for TDOC s Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) program in this area, thus there is no cost to employers or employees for the council s services. Similar organizations outside the Austin-Travis county area also administer JTPA and provide outplacement services.

The Council offers displaced workers: (1) skills assessment, (2) classroom and on-the-job retraining (if needed), and (3) job readiness training, such as how to write resumes and interview. The Council also provid es numerous support services such as child care, transportation, relocation, a job search center, access to FAX and copy machines, long distance calls for job search and weekly support groups with employment counselors to discuss problems. The program has an 85- to 87-percent placement rate.


Recommendations
A. The state should develop a plan to assist displaced employees with obtaining outplacement services.

The Austin Travis County Private Industry Council or similar organizations outside the Austin area will be able to provide outplacement services. If the Legislature adopts other TPR recommendations to create the Texas Commission on Commerce and Labor and establish the Texas Job Training Fund, the commission could provide outplacement services to th e displaced workers.

B. The state should give displaced employees 60 days advance notice of their pending displacement.

This advance notice is a part of the fiscal estimates contained in this report.

C. The state should give all displaced state employees priority for any state positions that become available.

Implications
Assisting displaced state employees in obtaining outplacement services at no cost would help make the transition for employees less stressful and burdensome. Advance notice of displacement would give employees time to look for other jobs and be less disrup tive to their lives. Providing displaced state employees priority in filling vacant or new state positions could reduce the time spent unemployed.


Fiscal Impact
The state could save some money by shortening the period displaced employees are unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits from the state.