Steven L. Abrams
Mary Lou Berger
"An equal opportunity
The year is quickly coming to a close and the holidays are upon us. Sheila, Marylou, Vivian, Meaghan and I wish you all a season of peace and a happy New Year.
Many of you know already know that term limits prevent me from seeking another term as your County Commissioner. As I reflect on these past two decades, I am amazed at the number of issues we have tackled together. Each year brings its own set of challenges and I can assure you that 2012 will be no different. One issue that I will be focusing on in the upcoming year is unemployment as it relates to the hospitality industry.
As the unemployment rate started rising and continues to grow, it bothered me that many local hospitality industry businesses such as country clubs were bringing in foreign workers through the Federal H2B Visa Program. I began meeting with a number of country clubs to address the issue of hiring foreign workers. Since that time the unemployment has risen to over 10% and I am more eager than ever to gradually reduce the number of foreign hired by the private clubs.
I have spearheaded a collaborative effort with County staff, the Workforce Alliance, the Country Clubs, and the Council of Presidents, an organization of Country Club Presidents. I wanted the Clubs and Workforce Alliance to commit to a four-year plan that would reduce the number of H2B workers by 25% per year. They did and we have set to work to fulfill this goal.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is the lack of qualified workers available. A recurring theme among responses from country clubs and golf courses is that despite their desire to hire domestic workers, the reality is that they cannot find or maintain them. During a joint meeting between the County Commission and the School Board, I suggested that a training partnership be created that would provide a vehicle for those students that would be seeking a job upon graduating from high school and not continuing on to higher education. Now the School Board and the Tourist Development Council have joined in our efforts to develop a “talent pipeline” by way of training programs that will link local young people to jobs and careers that are in demand.
I look forward to keeping you informed on this and many other topics over the next year. As always, I invite your comments on any issue of interest to you. As your Commissioner, I am here to help you. You may write me at 301 N. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 33401 or call my staff at 276-1310 or toll free at 877-930-2205. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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