2017-2018 Legislative Session Updates
The state budget process is in full swing. Please contact your legislators to let them know you support youth jobs, career and technical education and sector based job training! See a link to the updated WSG budget chart under more sources below.
What did Governor Baker propose?
The Baker Administration proposed $4 million for a new Learn and Earn initiative which would go through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. They also proposed $9.9 M for YouthWorks, $3.4 M for Connecting Activities, and $3.7 M for One Stop Career Centers. Due to the increase in the minimum wage, the proposed funding level for Youth Works would result in a net loss of 750 youth jobs this summer unless we can increase this amount!
At Last, a Permanent Funding Mechanism has been proposed for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund!
The Workforce Solutions Group is pleased to support the following new bill filed by Senator Ken Donnelly and Representative Joseph Wagner:
SB 1006: An Act to Diversify the Use of the Workforce Training Fund to support the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. This bill would allow up to 5% of the Workforce Training Fund (WTF) to be used for pipeline training through the WCTF. It would also add a 5% match from the state general fund to these funds from employers to support talent pipeline training.
The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund supports training partnerships with employers, community colleges and community based training providers to help unemployed and entry level workers get the advanced skills and credentials they need to fill open jobs in our state. Please ask your legislators to co-sponsor this bill and ask them to support it as it moves through the committee process.
New Bill to Ensure Quality Education and Training Programs
SB674: An Act Relative to Ensuring Quality Education and Training Programs
Lead Sponsors: Senator Ken Donnelly and Representative Ken Gordon
The bill would establish education, workforce development and employment data reporting mechanisms at the public higher education level to better inform the state’s workforce planning strategies.
New Session, New Leadership
National Skills Coalition Shares State Policies to Promote Skills Equity
Skills equity policies are state level policies that expand equitable access to middle-skill training, credentials, and careers – particularly for those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity. National Skills Coalition’s skills equity agenda includes policies on Job- Driven Financial Aid, SNAP E&T, Stackable Credentials, Alignment, Integrated Education and Training, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Employment and Training.
Skills2Compete MA: Moving Public Opinion and Public Policy
WSG collaborated with SkillWorks and the National Skills Coalition in July of 2010 to release the Massachusetts’ Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs report. The report received significant statewide press coverage and created considerable visibility and momentum for increasing community college degree and certificate alignment.
In January 2011, WSG and SkillWorks developed a piece of legislation called the Middle-Skills Solutions Act, to increase credential completion rates and to focus attention on the needs and challenges of low and middle skill workers. The Act was filed with over 50 legislative co-sponsors, and gained momentum with a successful fall hearing and well attended briefing for business leaders.
In March of 2012, the Middle Skills Solutions Act was released favorably from the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and was later incorporated in large part in the Jobs and Economic Development Act of 2012.
State Legislative Advocacy
By aligning business support, and mobilizing employers and advocates, policy makers received a unified message to support the Workforce Training Fund (WTF). The WTF is now fully funded at $18-21 million per year (based on an employer assessment of $8 per employee) and permanently established as a trust, assuring its ongoing availability as a training resource. Adult Basic Education and ESOL are now part of grant funded training through a dedicated “Learn@Work” grant program blending WTF and ABE funds, and grants have become more accessible to smaller employers.
The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) is regularly cited as a model for sector based workforce partnerships, showing a positive return on investment for participating businesses.
WSG continues to advocate for use of the WCTF to fund the regional skills academies of the Middle Skills Solutions Act (MSSA).
State Budget Advocacy
Helped preserve state funding for One Stop Career Centers, School-to-Career Connecting Activities, and Employment Services Programs during the 2008-11 economic downturn.
Working in collaboration with the Youth Jobs Coalition/MCAN, the WSG was actively involved in an advocacy campaign that helped to increase the amount of funding for summer youth jobs in the summer of 2010. The full $8 million of funding was allocated as a result of the governor “spending forward” FY 2011 funds. During 2010, WSG also helped to secure additional funding for youth jobs for the summer of 2011.
WSG educated the Massachusetts Congressional delegation about WIA’s important role in workforce policy, programs and funding. WSG and SkillWorks met with Senator Brown’s state director, accompanied by business leaders from different regions of the state, and mobilized businesses who have received Workforce Training Fund awards to contact Senator Brown about their support for WIA.
WSG generated good media coverage with a major story about proposed cuts in the Boston Globe and op-eds co-authored by regional business and workforce leaders in local papers.
Recommendations for Governor Elect Baker
The Commonwealth has made considerable strides in improving pathways to employment and economic self-sufficiency. The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF), a national model for supporting sector-based training, has launched dozens of regional partnerships between employers and training providers, resulting in thousands of people employed in jobs. Community college reform measures will increase the completion rates of our community colleges and help graduates connect to jobs. Increased investments in jobs and training for at-risk youth will paydividends for the state in the years to come.
Despite this progress, however, many working poor and vulnerable residents, including immigrants, low-skill youth and adults, disconnected young adults who are neither attending school nor working, and the long-term unemployed, have lost ground as the economy has changed.
Workers aren’t the only ones struggling to get ahead in the new economy. According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), two-thirds of businesses said they experienced difficulty hiring employees with the appropriate skills needed to grow and stay competitive.
Governor Elect Baker will shape the way we respond to these challenges and build the talent required to strengthen our economy and create opportunity for all of our residents. In the pages that follow, we offer six big ideas for the Baker Administration. If adopted, these recommendations have the potential to move more of the Commonwealth’s residents toward economic independence, reduce income inequality, ensure our young adults are college and career ready, and competitively position our businesses for success in the 21st century economy.
Click here to read the full report and all of our recommendations.