Nearly 100 state employees who have worked to help the unemployed find jobs will have to start their own job search. Officials in the state Workforce Development agency say pink slips are starting to go out today to employees who were stationed at the three-dozen regional Workforce Development offices which are being closed.

 Greg Lewis of Des Moines — a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees union — is also a non-voting member of the Workforce Development Board.

“This is absurd,” Lewis says. “You’re talking about laying 95 people off whose job it is to find jobs.” 

Administrators in the Workforce Development agency are arranging for public libraries, armories, and community colleges to provide computer access to unemployed Iowans. Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert is spearheading the change.

“I know that a lot of people on our staff are pretty excited about this opportunity,” Wahlert says.

Governor Branstad supports Wahlert’s plan. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds questions the effectiveness of the Workforce Development offices that are being closed. 

“A lot of these sites were only open one day a week, one afternoon,” she says, “not very accessible.” 

Reynolds says ensuring computer access in a public place will be a better service to Iowa’s unemployed.

“There are some Saturday available times. It’s open later in the evenings. People need access at different times and this gives them the opportunity to have that access,” she says. “It’s a step in the right direction. We continually need to look at ways that we can become more efficient and more effective and this is one way to do it.” 

According to Reynolds, Workforce Development soon will have computer access points at 60 different sites, in addition to the 16 regional “one-stop” centers where unemployed Iowans may visit with a counselor about their job search.

Click here to read and hear more from Reynolds and Governor Branstad on this topic, which was addressed during their weekly news conference.