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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Continue reading “Skills to Succeed: A New Campaign to Increase Massachusetts’ Workforce Outcomes and Resources”

Massachusetts WIOA State Plan Public Review and Comment Period

Dear Friend of SkillWorks:

You are invited to review the draft Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Massachusetts Combined State Plan website and provide comments and feedback through in-person public meetings, or online. Please visit the Massachusetts WIOA State Plan website (or continue reading) for more information!

Continue reading “Massachusetts WIOA State Plan Public Review and Comment Period”

Workforce Roundup: June 7-13, 2014

Welcome to the Workforce Roundup! Below are workforce news, resources and updates from the last week.

A few quick highlights for this week:

1) Thanks Speaker DeLeo, Representative Tom Conroy, and 39 co-sponsors for supporting job training through including funding for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund in the House Economic Development bill!

2) Join SkillWorks, the Workforce Solutions Group, and our partners for our 2014 Gubernatorial Forum: Building Massachusetts’ Skills to Compete! RSVP today to join us at Roxbury Community College on July 16 to hear what the Massachusetts Gubernatorial candidates have to say about jobs and workforce development!

3) New book launched on June 12, 2014! Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies, edited by Maureen Conway and Robert P. Giloth, focuses on the expanding role of sector strategies in crafting workforce programs that address the needs of low-income workers. The book also features a chapter on SkillWorks, and the trials and tribulations of our funder collaborative, by our very own Loh-Sze Leung!

4) With support from SkillWorks, MassBudget has created a new resource – the online Jobs & Workforce Budget tool, which provides easily accessible funding information and clear descriptions of the workforce development programs funded by our state budget. Check it out today!

There’s lots more below! Please add anything we missed by submitting a comment.

 Workforce in the News

Research and Reports

Tools and Resources

Funding Opportunities

  • Workforce Training Fund to award money to employers to help them train employees, enhance skills, and learn new skills. Click here to learn more!
  • Common Impact is now accepting applications for capacity building projects which will begin in early 2014. Common Impact hopes to make a decision within the next few weeks and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
    • Click here to learn more about how to apply, and to access the application.
  • Department of Labor (DOL) has announced $53 million in funding available through the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF). Applications are due by June 18, 2014, and grants will be awarded in September 2014. More information can be found on the National Skills Coalition website.
  • Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation is now accepting grant proposals for their Small Business Assistance Grant Program. Proposals due no later than 5pm, on Friday, June 27, 2014.
  • The Economist and the Lumina Foundation has announced they will be awarding $10,000 to at least one submission to their Challenge: Bridge the Gap Between the Workforce and Higher Education. Submissions due by July 25, 2014.

Events

Forward

Congratulations to President Obama and all who won election to public office last night.  The election, however, is just the beginning.  We are going to need an all hands on deck approach, regardless of party, to address the issues we face as a country.

One issue in particular that looms before us is sequestration.

On January 2, 2013, $109 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs are scheduled to go into effect.

So far, Congress has been unable or unwilling to come to agreement on how to avoid these automatic cuts.

One area in which sequestration will have devastating effects is funding for programs that provide job training and adult education and that help put people back to work.

Our federal workforce development programs have already lost more than $1 billion since 2010, and unless measures are taken to prevent sequestration, they will lose at least another $630 million in 2013.

In Massachusetts, this translates to a $10.7 million cut in 2013, which means 36,000 fewer people served.  In addition, it’s estimated that our state would lose up to 60,000 jobs as result of sequesters to non-defense discretionary and defense programs.

Our state’s residents and businesses cannot afford these cuts.  We still have over 200,000 unemployed workers in the state, as well as employers who say they need help finding skilled workers, and we need more resources, not less, focused on job creation efforts, skills training, and programs that help people get back to work.

As we send Congress back to Washington post-election, let’s remind our delegation that we need and want them to champion a balanced approach to deficit reduction, and we need them to take steps to invest in and improve our nation’s workforce system, not eliminate it.

Want to take action?  Contact your Senators and Representatives; join the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce; and make your voice heard.

Read more about the impact of sequestration on workforce programs in MA.

News coverage on the impact of sequestration on workforce training in MA (WAMC – Northeast Public Radio)

Workforce Investment Act of 2012: Getting America Back to Work

Earlier this week, Representatives John Tierney (D-MA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) and George Miller (D-CA) filed the Workforce Investment Act of 2012, which aims to improve the nation’s workforce investment infrastructure, focusing on finding workers jobs and careers through strategic partnerships with in-demand sector employers, community colleges, labor organizations, and non-profits. This is a good step in the direction of finally reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act.  We’re proud that Rep. Tierney from the Commonwealth is leading the charge!

The Act proposes changes that advocates have long identified as areas that would help streamline our nation’s workforce training system and make it more effective and efficient at meeting job-seeker and employer needs.

Some highlights include:

  • Streamlining and coordinating the operation of job training, adult education, vocational rehabilitation, and postsecondary education programs to create smoother pathways and transitions.
  • Establishing uniform performance outcome information and reporting across programs to improve accountability and transparency and help job-seekers and employers make informed decisions about services and training.
  • Investments in the development and expansion of innovative strategies including career pathways, sector partnerships, incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, and regional approaches to training.
  • Expanding community college capacity to train workers in high-growth industries, such as health care, transportation, and advanced manufacturing.
  • Expanding access to adult education, literacy services and workplace skills.
  • Expanding eligibility and access for youth to work experience programs such as summer jobs, on-the-job training, and pre-apprenticeship programs.
  • Improving services for workers with disabilities by providing relevant training and other support services needed for competitive employment.

Read the WIA One Pager.

Read the full text of the bill.