Workforce Efforts in AL, TX, VA Look to Build, Maintain Talent Pipelines

June 09, 2016

While the recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) has some economists concerned that the U.S. economy is running out of qualified workers to fill existing openings, several states have announced workforce programs that are intended to address the skills-gap and build the talent pipeline in their respective states. These programs are intended to build regional partnerships between local workforce development agencies, economic development agencies, industry, and others. Approaches include a statewide apprenticeship tax credit in Alabama; occupation training for high-demand occupations in Texas; and, incumbent workforce training in Virginia.

In May, the Alabama legislature passed the Apprenticeship Tax Credit Act of 2016 (SB 90) that provides Alabama business with an income and financial institution excise tax credit of $1,000 each for up to five apprentices hired during the prior taxable year. The program is capped at $3 million annually. The intent of the program is to help businesses address the lack of an available, trained workforce, according to Rosemary Elebash, the state director of the Alabama National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).The tax credit will be available beginning on or after January 1, 2017 through the 2021 tax year – unless extended by an act of the legislature. The bill was signed by Gov. Robert Bentley on May 10.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced in May $1 million in new funding for the High Demand Job Training Program, a statewide program to create occupational job training programs that will improve the skill sets of individuals for jobs in high-demand occupations in Texas communities.  Originally established in 2014, the High Demand Job Training Program provides grants to support collaborations between Workforce Solutions partners and local economic development corporations. 

The state’s 28 local workforce development boards can apply for up to $100,000 to match the amount committed by local economic development corporations over the two years and while funds are available. Local workforce development boards may use grant funding to support high-demand, job-training activities and related direct costs, including individual participant recruitment, skills assessment, job search skills improvement, equipment and minor renovation of facilities used for program-related job training.

In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe on June 3 announced $1 Million in New Economy Workforce Grants for Incumbent Workforce Training. The state will make grants of up to $200,000 each to support seven regional partnerships focused on incumbent workforce training between local workforce development boards and local small businesses, community colleges, and other partners. To support the training, 10 community colleges will provide training and assessments to incumbent workers in the seven regions.

“These grants will help small businesses stay competitive by funding as much as 90% of the costs for workforce training and credentialing for their incumbent workers,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. Businesses with 250 employees or fewer are eligible to participate in the program. Participating businesses must contribute between 10 to 50 percent of training and certification assessment costs based on the number of company employees.

Alabama, Texas, Virginiaworkforce