Workforce programs receiving state attention

September 19, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

As the month of September marks national Workforce Development Month, states around the country continue to forge ahead with programs and initiatives to help train the workforce and attract more workers to open positions. This article highlights two new reports out that detail state efforts in various workforce programs, as well as calling out several new or proposed programs in Ohio, Vermont and Arizona that are designed to increase and develop the workforce in each of those states.

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) has released its first State of the Workforce Report, which reports on efforts in all 50 states, including key labor market information and workforce agency profile, along with workforce innovations the state may have chosen to highlight. Similarly, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) has released its first of three 50-state comparisons on state policy models for connecting education to work. The first report in the series explores workforce investment boards, career pathway systems and financial aid programs that are designed to help ensure students’ educational experience prepares them for success in the workplace. The ECS report details the different agencies and programs working in these areas and lists contact information for each, to help facilitate connections.

While both reports provide a good overview of state programs, other workforce efforts extend beyond those highlighted in the reports. For instance, in Ohio, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) and Northeast Ohio’s Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) created a comprehensive workforce plan intended to modernize how Ohio develops its manufacturing workforce. Key components of the plan include regional sector partnerships, which are supported by $5 million from the state budget over the biennium; earning while learning, which expands the use of innovation manufacturing apprenticeships; introducing K-12 students to manufacturing; and, growing the use of industry-recognized credentials.

Vermont’s remote worker incentive program, which took effect Jan. 1 this year and pays people to move to the state if they had an out-of-state job to boost the declining state population, became so popular that it ran out of money earlier than expected. This year, the state approved expanding the program to reimburse workers who move to Vermont to take jobs within the state, up to $5,000 in some areas of the state and $7,500 in places where workers are needed most. The new program will go into effect next year.

And in Arizona, the Board of Regents has approved proposing a new state funding model for FY 2021 focused on enhancing Arizona’s competitiveness. The $165 million budget request proposes The New Economy Initiative: Enhancing Arizona’s Competitiveness, which would include $100 million from the state for workforce development initiatives across Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. It would include the design and launch of a new engineering education and research center at Arizona State University; preparing a talent pipeline in high demand fields, with an emphasis on healthcare, at Northern Arizona University; and, preparing Arizona for “a leading role in those elements of the New Economy related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including personalized medicine (precision health), advances in communication and connectivity, and expanded medical access, new public health and economic enhancement initiatives, new health-care strategies and tools,” at the University of Arizona.

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