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Governors Ramp up Skilled Workforce Initiatives

February 22, 2012

Lawmakers in several states will consider legislation this year aimed at solving the workforce disconnect as states continue to struggle with unemployment and look for ways to attract industries in emerging fields. Many of the recent proposals, including those in Connecticut and Massachusetts, focus on revamping oversight of higher education and workforce training to offer better tools and a quicker path to a degree and skills matched with the needs of businesses. In Missouri, a new Innovation Campus will allow high school students to train for high-tech careers while they earn college credit and, in South Dakota, the governor wants to recruit 1,000 skilled workers from outside the state. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy earlier this month proposed legislation making changes to the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) in order to tailor programming to the needs of employers. In addition to programmatic changes, the governor wants to change the governance of CTHSS to an independent, 11-member board whose members are made by appointment, removing oversight from the State Board of Education. The process would be led by the Department of Education in collaboration with the Board of Regents, Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development. The governor hopes to put in place reforms that will position the 20-school system to provide programs relevant for high-tech jobs available in Connecticut. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman singled out fields like precision manufacturing, bioscience and fuel cells in a press release. To help the efforts and increase the training and resources available for students, Gov. Malloy would allocate $500,000 in additional funding. The governor's bill is available at: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/TOB/s/pdf/2012SB-00024-R00-SB.pdf. Massachusetts By aligning the state's 15 community colleges under a statewide system with authority to allocate all state funding, Gov. Deval Patrick hopes to improve the state's efforts to provide skilled workforce training for regionally specific jobs. Under the proposal, the Board of Higher Education (BHE) would have the authority to allocate all state funding to community colleges, consolidating the 15 separate funding lines into one line item within the Department of Higher Education budget. The BHE would be responsible for developing a system to make funding allocations to the individual colleges taking into account enrollment data, credits that can be transferred across campuses, and the creation of new programs better aligned with regional labor market needs, according to the governor's office. The plan also gives the BHE authority to establish new parameters for setting student fees and the use of revenues generated from the fees. In support of these reforms, the governor's FY13 budget includes a $10 million increase in total funding for community colleges. Read more... Missouri A new Innovation Campus at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) will serve as a testing ground for helping students find work in high-demand fields while reducing student loan debt. Announced by Gov. Jay Nixon earlier this month, the initiative will provide high school students with intensive training in science and technology fields through apprenticeships with local employers while they also earn college credit. Thirty students will be selected to enroll in the Innovation Campus this fall with hopes to expand the program to 100 students by year three. During high school, Innovation Campus students can earn up to 30 college credits and participate in apprenticeships with local business partners, including Cerner, Exergonix Inc., Sprint, and DST. To support the training opportunities, Gov. Nixon announced the availability of $500,000 through a Community Development Block Grant. To participate in the program, corporate partners must commit to creating or training a specified number of jobs, according to the governor's office. Read the governor's press release: http://governor.mo.gov/newsroom/2012/Gov_Nixon_President_Ambrose_launch_.... South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard is hoping to attract skilled workers outside of the state through a new recruiting initiative with the employment firm Manpower. Under the 1,000 New South Dakotans initiative, the state would pay $5 million to the recruiting firm to fill a surplus of private sector jobs in fields such as accounting, engineering and information technology, according to a Stateline article. Positions would be posted locally for 30 days before being turned over to Manpower. The article notes that the proposal is a short-term fix while the state works to improve its own job-training efforts. Gov. Daugaard approved a contract with the firm on a conditional basis in January. However, lawmakers must appropriate the money to close the deal. More information is available at: http://www.southdakotawins.com/newsouthdakotans/1000newsouthdakotans/.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Dakota