Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., says he has a lot to learn from Frederick.
Specifically, the Frederick County Workforce Services center.
Cardin, who is running for a second Senate term this year, took part in a roundtable discussion on job creation at the center Friday morning as part of a daylong visit to Western Maryland.
His agenda also included a senior forum in Hagerstown on Social Security, Medicare and budget issues affecting senior citizens, a visit to the B’er Chayim Congregation in Cumberland and a tour of Firefly Farms in Accident.
In Frederick, Cardin‘s first stop, he spoke with workforce center staff, local politicians, job seekers and employers.
Frederick County Workforce Services connects businesses looking to hire with residents seeking employment.
It also uses grant funding, primarily from the federal Workforce Investment Act, to provide occupational training.
According to center director Laurie Holden, the annual budget for the county-administered center is about $1.8 million.
“I want to understand what you’re doing here,” Cardin said, applauding the center for its hand in helping Frederick County’s jobless rate stay below the national rate.
The unemployment rate in the county was 5.3 percent in November, compared with 6.4 percent in the state.
“The best way to deal with our budget deficit is to get people working,” he said.
Cardin heard from several employers that had success finding talented employees through the center.
He also heard from several of the center’s clients who described the support they got from the staff there.
Holden said that 6,547 job seekers enrolled in the center’s services in fiscal 2011 and 1,980 exited with a job.
One speaker was Daniel Worthy, a Frederick resident and injured veteran who found a job through the center.
Worthy first came to the center Dec. 6, and he was hired Jan. 6 as a staff and training manager, Holden said.
Another speaker was Rose Davis, the human resources manager for Canam Steel Corp.
She said the company was having trouble finding welders. With the center’s help, Canam created an eight-week program to train welders.
It cost each student $1,000 and was funded partially by the Workplace Investment Act, special federal funds for dislocated workers, Frederick Community College and Canam.
Recently, 14 people graduated from the first class of the program.
The company has hired six of those graduates to date.
“In Washington we hear numbers,” Cardin said at the end of the roundtable. Through his visit to the center, he was able to assign some faces to the employment statistics.
He told attendees, “You help us understand the challenge we have to meet.”