Sustained Funding Needed For Training To Meet State’s Skilled Labor Needs

The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund delivers the best bang for the State’s buck, so let’s fund it!


Photo credit: Commonwealth Corporation

According to a recent survey, two thirds of employers in Massachusetts have trouble finding workers with the right skills. That’s not surprising when you consider that one in three adults 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.

The good news is that Massachusetts has two funding mechanisms to help address these issues: the Workforce Training Fund (WTF), a $22M fund supported by employer-backed contributions from Unemployment Insurance for incumbent worker training, and the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF), a proven sector-based training model that has served hundreds of employers with qualified talent. The bad news: funding for both has decreased over the years, and only one of these has a sustained annual funding stream. Continue reading “Sustained Funding Needed For Training To Meet State’s Skilled Labor Needs”

The gift that keeps on giving

In a recent editorial, the Boston Business Journal pointed out that Massachusetts has experienced a much more robust economic recovery than most other places in the country.  The key ingredient for this success, according to the article?

“The quality of the workforce here is a magnet for companies–the gift that keeps on giving.”

The article lists several performance indicators where the Commonwealth is performing well: Jobs growth; GDP; and state revenue receipts.

It also implies that our “secret ingredient” helps mitigate for factors like high energy costs and health insurance premiums.

I for one am not surprised that human capital seems to give the state an edge.  After all, SkillWorks has talked for years about our people being our competitive advantage and has urged our policymakers and legislators to prioritize workforce training and education with the perspective that these investments sharpen our edge and result in significant economic returns.

Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot things right in MA–the Workforce Training Fund and the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund being two examples that have trained tens of thousands of people and assisted hundreds of businesses improve productivity, increase profitability and increase employee retention and satisfaction.

However, even as we have finally institutionalized the Workforce Training Fund as a trust fund, thus ensuring its funding for 2012 and beyond, we have not recapitalized the Competitiveness Trust Fund since 2006, and we’ve cut back funding for our career centers, financial aid grants for working adults, and  job training for TAFDC recipients.  At the same time, federal funding for workforce training and youth employment has also taken a significant hit.

In the short term, we needed to balance the budget, and difficult decisions had to be made. Still, investments in human capital pay off in the long term, resulting in higher wages, higher state revenues, and a more attractive business climate.  The converse is also true, however.  A failure to invest adequately will have  a negative economic impact.

This week, during the National Workforce Week of Action,  we have the opportunity to tell our members of Congress why we value workforce training and education and how they make a difference to our businesses and our communities.   Today’s the last day–please take a moment to speak up.

$24M for the Workforce Training Fund in FY2011

Thanks to everyone who called their Senators asking them to override the Governor’s veto of $12.5 million for the Workforce Training Fund.

Thanks to you, and to the members of the legislature, the override was successful, and there will be a total of $24 million in the Workforce Training Fund in FY2011.  This funding will be available to businesses for grants to support training including skills upgrading, basic skills, and ESOL.

Learn more about the Workforce Training Fund.

Ask the Senate to support veto override of Workforce Training Fund

Call for Senate support for the Workforce Training Fund

Last Tuesday, the House restored $12.5 million to the Workforce Training Fund in the FY2011 budget that was vetoed by Gov. Deval Patrick.   Now we need the Senate to do the same.

Full funding for the Workforce Training Fund is one of the Skills2Compete-Massachusetts campaign’s key recommendations.

Contact your state senator TODAY to let them know you support an override.