Governors take the lead on workforce.

January 31, 2013

In the first few weeks of their states' legislative sessions, three east coast Governors have taken the lead with significant state investments supporting employer led workforce solutions.  

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley proposed $2.5 million in state general funds to support the new Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program, an initiative that will foster workforce training collaborations between businesses and government in key sectors. This sector-based initiative will provide grants to regional collaborations of workforce, community colleges, businesses and other community based partners, to craft skills training to meet industry needs. Maryland’s legislature also introduced SB0278/HB0227 establishing the Maryland EARN Program in the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. This bill requires the Department, in consultation with the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Governor's Workforce Investment Board, to administer a competitive grant program for sectors and career pathways initiatives. Maryland workforce advocates are currently working to support these efforts.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced his job creation and workforce development agenda for the 2013 General Assembly session, including measures to more closely align education and job creation. He included nearly $10 million in proposed budget amendments to support entrepreneurship, job creation and workforce training initiatives, including $1.75 million to support sector based career pathways initiatives through the community college job-training programs and their partners. Virginia workforce coalition members are currently assessing these proposals for further support.

And in Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln Chafee is proposing a $3 million “investment” over two years for a subsidized work immersion and non-trade apprenticeship program. Stating that on-the-job training “can lead to career opportunities for participants,” the governor’s budget includes two proposals that he says will “incentivize experiential learning.” The “Statewide Work Immersion Program” provides a 50 percent match for businesses providing 200 hours of work experience over a 10-week period, a match that could jump to 75 percent if the business hires the individual at the end of that period. Businesses can only take advantage up to the allotted 200 hour benchmark and only if they pay the individual at least minimum wage.

National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with these Governors and other state legislators to ensure workers in every state have access to the skills and education necessary to fulfill industry needs.