Workforce Development

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When CSG’s 2014 chairman Mark Norris talks about the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, he says “it’s something like awakening the sleeping giant.” Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader, spoke at The Council of State Governments 2014 Leadership Council meeting in June.

Alan C. Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, knows the importance of connecting a good education with economic development. “(N)othing is more critical to ensuring the economic strength of Pennsylvania and to securing good-paying jobs for Pennsylvanians than the development of a well-educated and trained workforce,” said Walker, who has been invited to speak at The Council of State Governments’ policy academy, “U.S. Workforce Development: Building Capacity at Home,” during the 2014 CSG National/CSG West Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, in August. Pennsylvania’s workforce development efforts target businesses that might move jobs overseas as well as global companies looking for a U.S. location. Insourcing is the practice of building facilities in the United States and hiring Americans rather than basing operations abroad, according to Investopedia.

In late 2013, the Brookings Institute published an article about reforming workforce development and human capital policies. Although written for the federal government, a number of principles for creating state-level workforce development programs emerge.

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Many state policymakers talk about why it’s important to encourage entrepreneurs for a simple reason: Startups are just about the only places creating new jobs. “In most years, existing firms destroyed more jobs than they created,” Jason Wiens, lead policy engagement manager for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, told a group of Tennessee policymakers and business leaders at a CSG Entrepreneurship Day May 13. “But in every year since 1977, which is the first year for which we have data, startups have created an average of 3 million jobs a year. And the startup creation rates have remained fairly stable for the last 30 years, even during periods when we had a recession.”

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago examined the workforce development system in Chicago to discover characteristics and practices common to successful programs. Researchers chose six community-based employment and training programs assisting unemployed or underemployed adults. What can we learn from Chicago?

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity is a leading indicator of new business creation in the United States. The index calculates the percentage of the adult, non-business owner population that starts a business over time using data from the Current Population Survey. Learn more at www.kauffman.org

Many policymakers and education officials are watching closely as Tennessee rolls out an ambitious plan to provide free postsecondary tuition to the state's high school graduates.  As part of Gov. Bill Haslam's "Drive to 55" initiative, the newly signed Tennessee Promise bill will provide two years of community college or a college of applied technology at no cost to students.  The overall goal is to increase the number of Tennesseans earning a degree or certificate to 55 percent from the current rate of 32 percent.

The U.S. Department of Labor is using $100 million dollars of current funds to increase the use of apprenticeships in the workforce.  As part of President Obama's charge to Vice President Biden to build a stronger middle class, these competitive grants will allow state partnerships to develop and increase the use of internships that lead to employment.

On April 16, 2014, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to take the lead on investments necessary to assist individuals get trained with the skills needed to land a job. Following training the initiative strives to help hard-working Americans get placed in a good, middle class job.  The first effort offers competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges, employers and industry so they can create job-driven training programs.

A 2011 study by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute found that American manufacturing companies could not fill as many as 600,000 positions—or 5 percent of manufacturing jobs—due to a lack of qualified candidates, and 56 percent of manufacturers anticipate that shortage will increase in the next three to five years. Technological advancements, particularly in the manufacturing area, mean that workers need more specialized skills to both get and keep jobs. To get to those skilled workers, companies must make a decision: Look for new, qualified employees or retrain their current workforce.

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