MA Jobs & Workforce Summit Recap: This Year, We Mean Business!

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In case you missed it, the Workforce Solutions Group (WSG), with support and in partnership with SkillWorks, successfully hosted the 7th Annual Massachusetts Jobs and Workforce Summit on Wednesday, October 26 in Devens, MA. Every year, the Workforce Solutions group brings more than 300 key policy makers, business, labor, and education leaders, to present the latest information about statewide labor and credential needs, higher education initiatives and career pathways for young adults. This year’s theme? We Mean Business!

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Funding for Workforce Training in Massachusetts – and a Promising Opportunity

Guest post by MassBudget.

Workforce training gives people the skills they need to get good jobs and support their families. These programs are also important to our Commonwealth more broadly, since we rely on well-educated, highly-skilled workers to sustain our state’s high-wage economy.

Despite the evidence that workforce training gives people the skills they need to succeed, state funding for workforce training has fallen over time, down 30 percent between Fiscal Years 2001 and 2017, as indicated below. MassBudget’s new paper Investing in People: Workforce Training in the Massachusetts State Budget analyzes these long-term trends while also walking users through our interactive on-line Jobs & Workforce Budget tool. Together these resources describe each workforce training program funded by the state, show funding histories, and highlight broader trends across programs that provide similar supports. The Jobs & Workforce Budget also provides highlights from this year’s state budget.

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Advocacy 101: 4 Ways Community Based Organizations Can Get Involved in Advocacy and Engage with Policymakers

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For many community based organizations, involvement in public policy advocacy can be a daunting endeavor, meant only for policy wonks and experts who know all the physical and political in’s and out’s of state and local legislatures – not true! Especially for social issue-focused organizations, which tend to be part of larger systems that may require more resources, support, and changes to those systems in order to work toward solving or improving a particular problem and/or serve a particular population. This calls for active civic engagement and advocacy to tell representatives why they should care about and support your cause(s)! But where to start? Here are 4 ways your organization can get involved in policy advocacy or improve your current advocacy strategy:

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Skills to Succeed: A New Campaign to Increase Massachusetts’ Workforce Outcomes and Resources

As an article in today’s Boston Globe highlights, warnings of the instability of the Massachusetts economy are growing.  Reporter Deirdre Fernandes writes that the region’s top economists are stressing that despite numbers showing economic recovery and steady growth, when you check under the hood, you’ll see a more troubling picture. Yes, the official unemployment has dropped even lower than pre-recession levels to 4.4%, which is also below the current national average of 5%. And it’s true that the state economy has been experiencing steady growth, reaching an annual rate of 2.3%, well above the national average of 0.5%. But these data points divert attention from a myriad of challenges and systemic imbalances combining to create a ‘perfect storm’ positioned to wreak havoc on our economy.

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Take Action: Tell Congress Not to Slash Workforce Training

A recent OpEd in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette by Roger Herzog (Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation) and Ann Donner (Commonwealth Workforce Coalition) talks about the role of workforce training in our region’s economic recovery.

Today, on the National Day of Workforce Action, their points are especially salient and helpful as we reach out to policymakers to educate them on the impact of this system and the critical services it provides to employers and job seekers alike.

  • Climbing out of a jobless recovery is not an easy task. For college-educated men and women who are out of work, it requires diligence. It is even more of a challenge for lower-income residents without the professional networks or skill sets that will make them competitive in the workforce.
  • That makes the work of employment counselors and job training center professionals all the more important. They are the individuals on the front lines connecting job seekers with potential hiring managers.   They help employers find employees and the unemployed find jobs.
  • Productive, appropriately trained employees are necessary for the long-term growth of businesses in New England.
  • The U.S. House proposes eliminating nearly $3 billion from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in the FY11 and FY12 budgets.
  • These cuts threaten the very existence of career centers and workforce development agencies, which served over 211,000 people and more than 12,000 businesses in MA alone in 2010.
  • Cuts to job training on the federal level will have a strong, and potentially devastating, impact on local employment and economic recovery.

The calls for shared sacrifice in a challenging economic environment are understandable. But it makes little sense to defund workforce training and leave those on the front lines of economic development with even fewer resources.

Call your members of Congress today and urge them to stand up in support of workforce training.