The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is concerned that proposed federal budget cuts would force it to close.
The Republican-controlled House has approved a proposed federal budget with $61 billion in cuts.
On Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the House budget as too severe, but hasn't yet approved one of its own. A bill has to be negotiated between the two bodies and survive a presidential veto.
U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, voted for the bill, of which the work force development funds were a small cut.
On Friday, Pompeo's office noted that the U.S. Department of Labor, which funds work force groups, has $1.5 billion in advance funding available for the current year, and that this should keep the pool of training funds available to local groups about the same.
"There should be negligible impact of the amount of grant monies available for the Workforce Alliance in Wichita," said Pompeo spokeswoman Rachel Taylor.
But that's not how it appears in Wichita, said Keith Lawing, the alliance's executive director.
He said he's been told that if the proposed House cuts to the Workforce Investment Act are enacted, it will likely mean the closing of the Workforce Center at 150 N. Main, along with centers in El Dorado, Wellington and Winfield, cutting 35 to 45 jobs, after June 30.
"We help people find jobs, that is the bottom line," he said. "Without WIA and our services, the entire labor match and skills training gets much more difficult. If jobs are the key to economic recovery, it seems counter-productive to end or limit these kind of public investments."
At the center, those who are unemployed search for work on computers, get counseling and learn how to write a resume or use Microsoft Word. The alliance also funds a large worker retraining program, paying for the unemployed to take classes at Wichita Area Technical College and Butler Community College.
The Kansas departments of commerce and labor would continue to offer some services to the unemployed.
While several hundred unemployed aircraft workers will finish degrees in May, another 483 would lose funding before finishing, Lawing said.
Such training has real benefits. Of the 43 people who have already finished job training, 34 found jobs, which pay an average of $16.69 per hour.
The center also benefits employers directly by pre-screening applicants for job openings. That means companies spend less time and money to hire, said Kathy Smith, human resources manager for Kaman Composites, an aircraft composites maker.
The center finds likely applicants from the pool of people who apply and assesses their skills to see if they're ready for the job.
"If anybody contacts us for a job, I give them a map and send them to the work force center," she said.