56 Senators and Representatives co-sponsor the Middle-Skills Solutions Act

Last week, 43 Representatives and 13 Senators signed on to co-sponsor the Middle-Skills Solutions Act, originally filed by Sen. Donnelly and Rep. Coakley Rivera and an outgrowth of the Skills2Compete MA campaign.  The bill aims to improve pathways to middle-skill jobs for adults through increased regional coordination of workforce, education and business sectors as well as through the creation of a Middle-Skills Council and Regional Skills Academies.

THANK YOU to all of our bill sponsors!  And thanks to all of you who contacted your representatives and senators and asked them to sign on.

Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange)
Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton)
Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose)
Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont)
Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford)
Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen)
Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton)
Rep. Stephen Canessa (D-Lakeville)
Rep. Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams)
Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera (D-Springfield) *
Rep. Micahel Costello (D-Newburyport)
Rep. Sean Curran (D-Springfield)
Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester)
Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington)
Rep. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer)
Rep. Thomas Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell)
Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown)
Rep. Kevin Honan (D-Brighton
Rep. Louis Kafka (D-Soughton)
Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem)
Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton)
Rep. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton)
Rep. Paul Mark (D-Pittsfield)
Rep. Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth)
Rep. Kevin Murphy (D-Lowell)
Rep. David Nangle (D-Lowell)
Rep. Harold Naughton, Jr. (D-Clinton)
Rep. James O’Day (D-West Boylston)
Rep. Angelo Puppolo, Jr. (D-Springfield)
Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood)
Rep. George Ross (R-Attleboro)
Rep. Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland)
Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley
Rep. Stephen Smith (D-Everett)
Rep. Todd Smola (R-Palmer)
Rep. Christopher Speranzo (D-Pittsfield)
Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst)
Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett)
Rep. Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield)
Rep. David Torrisi (D-North Andover)
Rep. Chris Walsh (D-Framingham)
Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester)
Sen. Katherine Clark (D-Melrose)
Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett)
Sen. Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington) *
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln)
Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield)
Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn)
Sen. Michael Moore (D-Milbury)
Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge)
Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport)
Sen. Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury)
Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland)
Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole)
Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich)

*Lead Sponsors

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Expand proven strategies to close middle-skill gap

Two recent editorials, one in the Boston Globe and one in the Boston Business Journal, highlighted ideas for making workforce training more effective and accessible.  In “The Drill with Workforce Training” (January 28, Boston Business Journal), Joseph Giglio of Northeastern University makes the case for vocational training (in particular, our voc-tech high school system) and its role in preparing citizens for skilled positions in growth sectors like healthcare, energy, environment and information technology.

In “The ‘transition coach’, (January 30, Boston Globe), Laurence Harmon describes a new approach to increasing college retention and persistence of Boston Public School graduates.  Funded by The Boston Foundation, these transition coaches are helping students, who often don’t have parents or other mentors who can show them the ropes, navigate through the college registration process, financial aid forms, and course catalogs.  Early results show that persistence in college is up 20 points for the class of 2009 over the class of 2008, who did not receive this assistance.

As part of our campaign to increase the number of residents in MA with at least two years of post-secondary education and a credential, the Skills2Compete MA coalition has been advocating for both greater access to vocational-technical training and for greater investment in coaching and supportive students.

One might note that both articles referenced above focus on our future workforce pipeline–students graduating from high school and entering college.  Given that over 60 percent of our 2020 workforce is already in the workforce today, however, it would also serve us well to implement some of these proven strategies for adults.

Through a Social Innovation Fund grant, SkillWorks is creating a new college navigator to help support adult workforce training participants as they enroll in community college.  Our recent Middle-Skills Solutions Act also specifically calls out vocational-technical high schools and aims to expand their role in workforce training, especially since these schools often have the capacity, expertise and space to help more adults get the training they need.

To really close the “middle-skill gap” we have in the Commonwealth, we are going to need to invest in both youth and adults.  And it’s going to take both using existing resources more creatively (e.g. how do we expand the reach of our voc-tech high schools?) and increasing public and philanthropic investments where they are most needed and have a proven effect (e.g. college transition and navigation coaches).

 

Support the Middle-Skills Solutions Act

**We need your help today! Please call your representatives and senators and ask them to co-sponsor the Middle Skills Solutions Act!**

On Friday, January 21, Senator Kenneth Donnelly and Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera filed the Middle-Skills Solutions Act in the Massachusetts Senate (Docket #1547) and House (Docket #3180).

The recommendations in this bill, which SkillWorks, the Workforce Solutions Group, and some of our allies from the business, philanthropic, workforce and education communities worked on together, are a good first step toward addressing some of the barriers that keep adults from making progress toward credentials and degrees, and hence middle-skill jobs.

The Middle-Skills Solutions Act:

  • Establishes a Middle Skills Council to provide recommendations on how to better align adult basic education with post-secondary education and training in order increase the number of adults with middle-skill credentials and jobs.
  • Requires regional coordination between employers and training providers, including community colleges, in order to increase collaboration and reduce duplication and inefficiencies in our training systems; and
  • Establishes Regional Skills Academies to spur innovation within our community colleges that speeds credential attainment by lower-income, lower-skilled adults seeking career and wage advancement

We hope you’ll join us in supporting the passage of this bill.   We need your help in getting senators and representatives to sign on as bill co-sponsors before the deadline of Friday, February 4.

Please call your state representatives and senators today and ask them to co-sponsor the Middle-Skills Solutions Act (Senate 1547, House 3180).

Getting serious a decade after the call for "New Skills"

In their recent Commonwealth Magazine piece, Jerry Rubin and John Schneider take us briefly back to December 2000, when MassINC released its “New Skills for a New Economy” report that revealed one in three workers in Massachusetts did not have the skills needed to thrive in our “new economy.”

A decade later, in January 2011, we can look back and be proud of education reform, health care reform and financial reform that have addressed crises or urgent needs in our Commonwealth and in the nation at large.

What we haven’t seen, however, is the kind of reform or the kind of focused, sustained effort and attention needed to address the skills gap detailed in the “New Skills” report.

As Rubin and Schneider point out, numerous efforts and initiatives have been tried with some success, but it seems that on the whole, we are just as far from meeting our employers’ skill needs today as we were in 2001.  And while the pain of the current recession might cause some to think that training investments should not be a high priority, the strength of our recovery as well as our long-term economic vitality depend on our ability to nurture a talent pool in the Commonwealth that will help our businesses grow.

Massachusetts prides itself on being the capital of innovation and being on the cutting edge, yet other states are leapfrogging past us in this area.  Oregon, Kentucky, Washington, Virginia and Rhode Island, to name just a few, have either initiated or made significant strides toward building better career pathways systems with more integrated community college, career and technical education, workforce development and adult basic education over the last decade.

Senator Donnelly and Representative Coakley Rivera filed the Middle-Skills Solutions Act last week in the Massachusetts Senate and House–taking a good first step this legislative session to addressing some of the systems reform issues that keep adults from making progress toward credentials and degrees.

The Middle-Skills Solutions Act:

  • Establishes a Middle Skills Council to provide recommendations on how to better align adult basic education with post-secondary education and training in order increase the number of adults with middle-skill credentials and jobs.
  • Requires regional coordination between employers and training providers, including community colleges, in order to increase collaboration and reduce duplication and inefficiencies in our training systems; and
  • Establishes Regional Skills Academies to spur innovation within our community colleges that speeds credential attainment by lower-income, lower-skilled adults seeking career and wage advancement

We hope you’ll join us in supporting the passage of this bill and the other recommendations contained in our Skills2Compete MA policy recommendations.

We cannot afford to let another decade go by before we get serious about creating opportunities for both the residents and the businesses of the Commonwealth to thrive.

FY2012 Budget Hearings on Workforce Priorities

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development is holding two FY2012 budget hearings in the next few days.

If you care about workforce training in the state budget, I would strongly encourage you to get out to one of these hearings and/or submit written testimony by December 22.

Skills2Compete MA’s budget priorities for FY2012 include:

  • Recapitalize the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to support middle-skill education and training in specific high growth/ critical industry sectors.  Use this fund strategically to help more adults enter and complete post-secondary training leading to a credential with meaning in the labor market.
  • A full allocation of $21 million for the Workforce Training Fund, which is funded by businesses to support training for thousands of workers in the state;
  • Level funding of $27.7 million for ABE/ESOL programs;
  • $6 million to support One Stop Career Centers, the backbone of the state’s training infrastructure and the entry-point for so many laid-off and unemployed workers;
  • Support for School to Career Connecting Activities that help prepare youth for entrance to the labor market;
  • $8 million for youth summer jobs.
Hearing 1 – Boston, MA
Thursday, December 16th, 2010
11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
Charles F. Hurley Bldg., Minihan Hall
19 Staniford Street, 6th floor
Boston, MA
Hearing 2 – Taunton, MA
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
Taunton Career Center
72 School Street
Taunton, MA

Can’t make it to a hearing?  Submit written testimony by December 22 to:

Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
One Ashburton Place, Suite 2112
Boston, MA 02108