The Sun
By Tony Myrell

The Workforce Investment Improvement Act, known in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4271, is modeled after the successful San Bernardino County workforce program. The bill should move quickly through Congress as it is good for business and provides the vital resources necessary to bolster employers and stimulate an economic resurgence.

As an employer in this region for nearly 30 years, a member of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board and president of our local Chamber of Commerce, I have met with and heard the stories of many residents who found employment through the county’s workforce development programs and who are now in successful careers with long-term potential growth.

The Workforce Investment Board (WIB), appointed by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, is comprised of local business owners and representatives of public and private community organizations. The WIB has exceeded its goals and become a national workforce model due to the county’s mandate of collaboration with regional employers.

Developing open communication channels with employers of all sizes and in numerous industries has helped the county understand exactly what companies need to stay in business and grow. Employers outline the precise skills and qualifications their employees need to possess, resulting in the development of focused training programs and opportunities.

Our local workforce leadership administers federal funds precisely where they are needed most to ensure that people are successfully trained in the exact skills needed by local employers. This process assures that skilled workers are placed into open positions as soon as they complete their training.

The San Bernardino County Business Resource Team is another key component to the county’s success. The team is designed as a rapid response group to be first responders in an employer crisis. The tools employed include layoff aversion, business efficiency consulting, screening, recruiting and hiring new employees, administering on-site job fairs and executing On-the-Job Training contracts.

In 2010, the team served 9,288 businesses with programs funded by federal dollars and administered by the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board. The increased cost of doing business in a slow economy has forced employers to do more with less. The Business Resource Team, working with the private sector, has responded with timely assistance and the necessary resources to save companies and retain jobs.

The county’s three One-Stop Employment Resource Centers (ERCs) represent another valuable tool in our workforce arsenal. The ERCs have become the primary intersection between employers and job seekers. Last year, more than 78,000 residents utilized an ERC, which offers a range of free or low-cost services including skills assessment, career counseling, job training and placement, r sum assistance, interview training and access to computers, printers, faxes and telephones.

Employers, both big and small, also benefit from center services. They can post job openings, hold recruiting fairs or arrange On-the-Job Training contracts to bring in new employees. Last year, 5,700 job openings were filled through county One-Stop Employment Resource Centers.

I am a local business owner and have first-hand experience with these programs and how they can strengthen employers by getting people back to work. My successful experience of hiring four individuals through an on-the-job training program helped me when I needed it most. I now direct my human resources manager to recruit through the county’s One-Stop Employment Resource Centers. We have not only recruited great people, but we feel good about hiring residents who have lost jobs or endured substantial obstacles to employment.

I am very proud to be doing business in California and the Inland Empire. I urge our congressional representatives to support the Workforce Investment Improvement Act and its positive potential impact upon our nation’s workforce.

Tony Myrell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Premier Medical Transportation & Equipment, Inc., in Colton is a member of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board.


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