Workforce Development

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Apprenticeships — in which an individual is paid to learn a set of skills through on-the-job training — help meet labor demands of businesses, while offering workers higher wages and better employment outcome. A December report by the Center for American Progress analyzed the effectiveness and return on investment for apprenticeships. These programs, the study found, not only generate a high level of satisfaction among employers, but also lead to significant increases in lifetime earnings for workers — as much as $300,000. The apprenticeship model, however, is not widely used in the United States. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, less than 5 percent of U.S. secondary-school students take part in apprenticeships. But the model has begun to attract the attention of more state lawmakers.

States often compete intensively to attract firms in emerging high-tech or science-focused industries. If leaders can successfully craft policies that entice those industries to relocate or expand in their state, it can mean better jobs and greater prosperity for residents. One obstacle for policymakers, though, is finding a way to link the significant human capital and expertise in state universities and research institutions with private sector companies looking for those same resources. A recent CSG webinar discussed ways to overcome those obstacles through research networking systems and how state economic development agencies can collaborate with the academic community to highlight in-state research expertise to the private sector. 

Christopher Matthews of Time magazine recently posted an interesting piece on an under looked aspect of the economy: worker productivity. His central argument is that rising worker productivity is what allows for either rising wages or more leisure time. However, worker productivity has been declining even before the onset of the recession and the numbers are astounding.

A recent CNNMoney post shows that Americans are actually working fewer hours now than in previous generations despite the perpetual complaint about “not having enough hours in the day.” Indeed the data shows hours worked dropping from 38.2 hours in 1964 to 33.7 hours in 2013.

CSG South

Since the end of the Great Recession, there have been encouraging signs that America’s manufacturing sector is experiencing a renaissance, albeit a muted one. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, and given that the manufacturing sector in the United States has been in a state of decline for a number of decades, a turnaround of this sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) is most encouraging.  While growth in the nation’s manufacturing sector since the Great Recession remains a very positive development, it also thrusts another challenge to the forefront: creating an adequately trained workforce in the states to staff the increasingly complex positions involved in the 21st century manufacturing process.

Given that a highly trained workforce is a central aspect of a thriving manufacturing sector, states across the country, particularly in the South, have placed a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that their economic development strategies incorporate the workforce development needs of these different companies. This Regional Resource examines the measures taken by the SLC states to create a better trained workforce for the various manufacturing operations in their jurisdictions. 

By 2018, the U.S. will need 22 million new college degrees; the nation will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees. This means not only lost wages for workers, but also lost job creation for state economies. This workshop addressed opportunities for state policymakers to impact higher education funding, align pathways leading to employment and develop strategies for meeting the demands for a skilled workforce.

By 2018, the U.S. will need 22 million new college degrees; the nation will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees. This means not only lost wages for workers, but also lost job creation for state economies. This workshop addressed opportunities for state policymakers to impact higher education funding, align pathways leading to employment and develop strategies for meeting the demands for a skilled workforce.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

Under a new set of recommendations in Ohio, half of the state’s funding for higher-education institutions would be based on how well they contribute to a key economic goal: boosting the number of college graduates in the workforce.

In late November, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and a state panel released a higher-education finance framework designed to give greater weight to degree completion in determining funding for the state’s public colleges and universities.

President Barack Obama on Sept. 8 addressed a joint session of Congress to roll out the American Jobs Act. In the wake of a still stagnant recovery, the bill includes a combination of tax breaks and new spending designed to give the economy a booster shot and hopefully put more people back to work.  If passed by Congress, the bill would provide more than $35 billion to state and local governments to retain or rehire teachers and public safety officials. The tax measures used to pay for the bill, however, may ultimately come back to bite the very state and local governments it is designed to support.

President Obama’s 155-page jobs proposal landed on Capitol Hill this week and both parties are rallying their troops for a partisan fight.  Prospects for adoption remain low and support among state leaders will likely divide along party lines.  However, the bill does contain $30 billion in state fiscal relief, in the form of the Teacher Stabilization Fund, which if enacted would have a direct impact on state budget decisions throughout the country.

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