Workforce Development

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.

Tennessee joins Iowa and Michigan as being named an "All Star Vet State."  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips showcased their collaborative focus on veteran employment which gained them the coveted title.  As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Hiring Our Heroes initiative this pilot program includes a web-portal designed to assist veterans and active-duty service members around the country quickly access state resource.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the 2014 president of The Council of State Governments, sees education as a key to developing a workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. But he believes states also can do other things to attract jobs.

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.

When policymakers think about economic development, it usually involves things like tax exemptions, matching funds or infrastructure development. What happens in classrooms, however, rarely enters into the equation. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who is serving as The Council of State Governments’ 2014 chair, believes it’s time to change that.

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