CEP Inc. restructures to weather cuts
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) Inc.’s board adopted a reorganization plan presented by administrators to brace for budget cuts to its ten-county region moving into the next fiscal year.
Since 2005, CEP Inc. has weathered a 33 percent reduction in federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding. Another 8 percent cut to federal job training revenue is slated for 2013.
In response, CEP Inc. created a new service model to minimize costs and allow staff to improve overall quality of service to employers and job seekers by better aligning resources with the goals and objectives of the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board Inc., CEP Inc.’s oversight agent.
Key to the new service delivery model is the shift to an amended community one?stop system. The nationwide system allows job seekers to access a variety of job-related services in one place, such as Job Service, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, CEP Inc., all under one roof.
“We have one one-stop center in our 10-county region and that’s in Superior, and we are proposing no changes at all, except maybe increasing services in that office,” said Bradford Gingras, chief operating officer for CEP Inc.
The reorganization will give employers and job seekers continued access to job training funding workforce development services —employment and training services for businesses and job seekers in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Sawyer, Taylor, Rusk, and Washburn Counties.
Beginning July 1, CEP Inc. will have five regional offices that also serve as Job Center access points, located in Ashland, Park Falls, Phillips, Spooner, and Superior.
The Phillips Job Center is run by the state of Wisconsin, and no changes are expected there, Gingras said. No changes are expected in Ashland and Superior, but there could be changes in some of the hours for the other regional centers; exactly what those changes would be hasn’t been determined, Gingras said.
“I don’t even want to speculate at this point,” Gingras said of changes in Spooner and Park Falls.
Offices in the communities of Hayward, Ladysmith, and Medford will transition from permanent Job Center locations to itinerant hours at educational partners’ facilities. After the transition to Wisconsin Indianhead and North Central technical colleges, the current Job Centers in those communities will close and itinerant office hours will be posted.
Efforts also will be made to minimize the impact of budget cuts through increased fundraising measures and using established partnerships to review additional cost saving measures.
“We will be making some adjustments to our current staffing structure, which will unfortunately include staffing level considerations after we complete the reorganization,” Gingras said. “There will not be a reduction in hours. We’ve developed a new organization structure, and so there’s a shifting of positions. Right now we have a lot of internal positions that we’ve posted; there will be a shift of people’s titles.”
He said many on staff will be doing comparable work to what they are doing today.
“Across the country other workforce agencies are also facing tough choices; each budget adjustment was made in the best interest of our communities and customers and in an effort to ensure that services will affected as little as possible,” Gingras said. “I cannot express enough gratitude to our employees for their service and dedication to CEP Inc. and the people that they have served. This is a difficult time, and we’re doing everything possible to provide support for our staff and communities, to minimize any disruption and to ensure CEP can focus on serving job seekers and employers.”
For example, he said, there will still be space for job seekers to come in and look for work or work on a resume on CEP computers. One of the things CEP Inc. is planning to do is to reduce caseloads so they can spend more time with individuals.
“One of the biggest changes is that with more duties and more responsibilities, we’ll be more competitive for grant funding and have additional staffing to manage some of those grant opportunities,” Gingras said.
The reorganization supports the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc.’s strategic plan and goals. Through the creation of cross?functional teams, CEP Inc. will be able to meet and exceed NWWIB’s goals and objectives for the region’s workforce. Essential to the reorganizing is the creation of the Industry & Targeted Populations Specialist positions, who will deliver additional WIA and grant funded trainings that will expand and sustain funding streams, as well as meeting the challenges faced by employers.
“A lot of services we are basing around their strategic plan,” Gingras said. “Right now, they’re going through a new strategic planning to determine what some of the needs are for job seekers and employers, and we’re trying to match our services accordingly.
For more information about CEP Inc.’s reorganization, contact Gingras at (715) 682-9141 or email@example.com.