The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund delivers the best bang for the State’s buck, so let’s fund it!
According to a recent survey, two thirdsof employers in Massachusetts have trouble finding workers with the right skills. That’s not surprising when you consider that one in threeadults in our state have only a high school diploma or less. Not to mention, nearly one third of the state’s labor force is over the age of 55 and will be retiring soon. These are among the realities that combine to create a perfect storm, threatening the stability our statewide economy.
In case you missed it, the Workforce Solutions Group (WSG), with support and in partnership with SkillWorks, successfully hosted the7th 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!
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.
Senator Daniel Wolf (D Harwich) has proposed an amendment to the Economic Development bill to allocate increased funding for the WCTF.
While the Economic Development bill included funding for much-needed middle skills job training, the majority of low-income and low-skilled workers will not be able to access these workforce training funds. Senator Wolf’s amendment requests $5 million in funding for the WCTF to allow another segment of the Massachusetts workforce to access opportunities and increase their wages.
We ask you to join us, the Workforce Solutions Group, Senator Wolf, and the co-sponsors that have signed on to support this amendment thus far: Senators Donnelly, Ms. Chang-Diaz, Ms. Creem, Messrs. DiDomenico and Eldridge, Ms. Forry, Ms. Jehlen, Messrs. Michael O. Moore and Lewis, Ms. Spilka, Messrs. Joyce and Barrett and Ms. Lovely, in our support for increased funding for the WCTF!
SkillWorks and partners are pleased to be able to support two bills currently being heard in committee: SB 855 and SB 169. Both bills support ongoing funding for the state’s only industry-sector focused training fund: the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF).
Although the WCTF has successfully provided training for nearly 7,000 over the last 7 years and is helping thousands of people go back to work in the Commonwealth, there is no sustained funding source for the Fund, and there are currently no more resources to support training after the current round of grants is finished.
We applaud Senator Donnelly for his leadership in filing these bills and supporting the WCTF as an important training and economic development resource.
SkillWorks’ testimony in support of these bills is excerpted below:
“The recapitalization of the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund at $5 million in FY12 legislative session was an important victory. You may know that this appropriation was awarded to 15 industry sector partnerships around the statethis summer and is already at work providing skills training and jobs to more than 800 Massachusetts job seekers and entry level workers. These grants also seeded the creation of several regional spartnerships in sectors ranging from construction to early education and care to healthcare and advanced manufacturing, to better organize training around regional business needs and to create better pathways to middle-skill jobs and the middle class.