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States targeting strategies to boost workforce

May 24, 2018

State economic growth relies on the availability of a workforce capable of filling open positions. But increasingly around the country, one of the top concerns of employers is finding the right talent to fill these roles. Beyond corporate strategies in hiring, states are increasingly developing new initiatives to keep their pipeline of talent flowing. SSTI has found a variety of new initiatives being considered around the country, from foundation support for scholarships for credentials in high-demand fields in New Hampshire to pending legislation to support, with state funding, a Pathways in Technology Program (P-Tech) in California.

Alabama

Earlier this month Gov. Kay Ivey announced a new initiative to help the state add half a million skilled employees to its workforce by 2025, but the plan will use existing funds to help achieve this goal. The new initiative, called Success Plus, prioritizes five areas: awareness; access and success; pathways; leadership and collaboration; and assessment and continuous improvement. It focuses largely on ways to inform the state’s residents about the increasing needs for skilled workers, make them more aware of available resources, and help develop pathways to acquire needed skills. Metrics to measure progress include post-secondary educational attainment rate, participation in work-based learning and employment, and workforce participation rate. More information on the plan is available here.

California

Pending legislation in California would establish a public-private partnership that focuses on high school and college completion, as well as meaningful workplace experience. In addition to earning a high school diploma, proposed P-Tech students would also earn a no-cost two-year associates degree and learn industry skills necessary for employment in the 21st Century workforce. If successful, Senate Bill 1243 would provide state funding for an educational program already operating in 90 schools in seven states.

Kentucky

In looking to strengthen its economy, a Kentucky task force drew from the national Work Matters report and expanded its focus on the disabled population to include additional populations that remain an untapped resource in the workforce. In addition to the disabled, the task force addressed veterans, foster youth, individuals with criminal records and individuals with substance use disorders. The report includes a set of policy options including expanding apprenticeship and other job coaching programs tailored to the capabilities of workers with disabilities and partnering with school systems to ensure that children and youth with disabilities be included in career readiness and development programs. Additionally, Gov. Matt Bevin last week signed an executive order creating a council to increase meaningful opportunities for employment for the disabled population of the state that are seeking employment.

Missouri

Missouri is looking to implement a comprehensive suite of initiatives, including Talent for Tomorrow and Best in the Midwest. Talent for Tomorrow, touted as “an initiative that will fundamentally reset Missouri’s approach to meeting the state’s workforce needs,” is a collaborative effort with the Hawthorn Foundation, the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Department of Higher Education. After an assessment of the state’s current workforce and employer needs, different economic scenarios that will help build a workforce system that can adapt to the economy will be explored and a pilot project will be identified. A set of recommendations will form a state strategy with the goal of aligning secondary and postsecondary education with the public workforce system and the needs of the private sector.

Talent for Tomorrow will run in conjunction with the Best in the Midwest initiative from the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) that is intended to create a new statewide strategy for economic development. It will include the DED reviewing its programs and structure to ensure services are aligned with the business community’s needs. It will use an outside firm to help coordinate the review and will gather input from an advisory committee of public and private sector economic development officials, business leaders, workforce development and tourism professionals and legislators.

New Hampshire

Two foundations in New Hampshire have teamed up to form a new workforce-training partnership and boost scholarships in high-demand industries. With a $250,000 grant from Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation and other matching donations, the NH Charitable Foundation said it will be able to nearly double the numbers of scholarships it awards to people earning high-value credentials. The program focuses on student who experience barriers to opportunity and includes credentials for fields such as advanced manufacturing and information technology, among others.

Alabama, California, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshireworkforce