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This week, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, surrounded by legislative leaders, signed legislation to create jobs and expand opportunity for Maryland workers and businesses. Among the bills signed into law was the Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Act. The new law provides for the first substantial state investment in workforce development programs in over ten years, demonstrating Maryland’s commitment to strengthening its skilled workforce to meet industry needs.
Most noteworthy was the level of support among key stakeholders—the Governor and legislative leaders, the Secretaries of Labor and Economic Development, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, NSC partners and other workforce advocates, business and labor leaders, and workforce boards. The strong support illustrates the need for innovative workforce solutions to not only close the skills gap, but to meet the needs of both employers and workers in Maryland.
In a joint effort with Senate President Miller and House Speaker Busch, Governor O’Malley’s FY 2014 budget includes a $4.5 million strategic investment to create the EARN Program, which funds a competitive grant process that creates employer-driven collaborations, known as industry-based workforce partnerships, to bridge the gap between specific employer workforce needs and the skills of Maryland’s workers. These partnerships will identify common workforce needs for high-demand occupations within a targeted industry—such as construction, traditional and advanced manufacturing, cyber security, and health care—and develop and implement education or training strategies to address those shortages.
The EARN Program will be administered by 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 this competitive grant program to foster workforce training collaborations between businesses and government in key sectors. This initiative will ultimately provide grants to regional collaborations of workforce, community colleges, businesses and other community based partners, to craft skills training to meet industry needs.
NSC partners and advocates will continue to work with Maryland leaders over the coming months to provide ongoing input and assistance with implementation of the EARN Program.
Previous Posts on Maryland's Workforce Efforts:
Other Links of Interest on the EARN Act:
|Photo courtesy of the Executive Office of the Governor|