Workforce Development

In an increasingly complex global economy, few issues are more critical to states and the private sector than workforce development. To facilitate discussion on workforce needs and strategies, CSG has planned a special policy round table event as part of the 2015 CSG National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The session, "State Pathways to Prosperity—Workforce and Economic Development Round Table," will convene at the Mars Petcare Global Innovation Center in Thompson's Station on the morning of Friday, Dec. 11.

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Hello, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.  I am excited to serve as CSG’s Director of Education and Workforce Development.  I hope to be a resource from cradle to career, covering emerging issues and trends for states as well as providing opportunities to talk about policy solutions.

I plan on using this blog to highlight the work of states exceling at meeting the education and workforce needs...

State policymakers hear frequently from employers that they cannot find skilled workers for open positions. Many of these positions are middle-skill jobs that require some form of postsecondary training, but not a bachelor’s degree. This article discusses state strategies to close skill gaps and meet employer skill needs.

The Council of State Governments released a report last week that outlines recommendations for state-level policies that help ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. The report, "A Framework for State Policymakers: Developing Pathways to Ensure a Skilled Workforce for State Prosperity," is the brainchild of CSG's 2014 national leaders who sought to help states prepare today's students for the jobs of tomorrow. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as CSG's 2014 national chair, led the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, a multi-year effort to identify obstacles—and alternative pathways—to prosperity for many Americans.

The Act encourages local workforce investment boards to implement pay-for-performance contract strategy incentives for training services as an alternative model to traditional programs. The Act also authorizes local workforce investment boards to allocate funds to the extent permissible under §§ 128(b) and 133(b) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-128) for pay-for-performance partnerships.

Two years ago, UPS committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and to contributing 25,000 volunteer hours to veterans causes by Dec. 31, 2018. UPS, a CSG Associate member, then upped the ante last year by declaring its intent to hire 50,000 veterans and to donating 50,000 volunteer hours to veterans’ causes within the same timeframe. These commitments were made as part of UPS’ participation in the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, which was established in 2011 to give service members, veterans and their families the tools needed to be successful.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) and Elsevier are proud to partner on this report to analyze the research strengths of the United States. Using a variety of data sources, including Scopus—Elsevier’s proprietary abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed research literature—this report assesses where states have a comparative advantage in research and how they can capitalize on those advantages to drive innovation, attract jobs, and foster economic growth.

CSG Midwest
Ask employers what their biggest challenges are, and one of the first responses will often be the difficulty in filling jobs with qualified workers. Ask policymakers what the biggest challenges facing their state’s economy are, and it won’t be long before they mention the need to build a trained workforce — one that can fill good-paying jobs and enable individual economic mobility.
 
This policy challenge is particularly acute in regard to middle-skill jobs — those requiring more than a high school diploma, such as an associate’s degree, certificate or other postsecondary credential, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Last year, in fact, none of the 10 fastest-growing occupations required bachelor’s degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers could instead qualify for these jobs through such means as skills certificates, on-the-job training or apprenticeships.
 
In an effort to match state policy with these labor-market realities, new legislation is being introduced and innovative programs are being implemented across the Midwest that target middle-skill jobs and workers.
 
 
 

Steve Brophy, vice president of government affairs for Dollar General, developed a program in California to address unemployment among veterans and brought it to Tennessee when he made the move from the west coast.  While attempting to fill vacant positions, he discovered Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a national program supporting states' investment in employment opportunities for active duty military and veterans.  The Paychecks for Patriots program grew and launched in 2012 to offer an opportunity for veterans to attend local job fairs across Tennessee with a chance for on-the-spot hiring.

Wal-Mart, a CSG Senior Associate member, committed in 2013 to hiring 100,000 veterans over a five–year period. At that time, nearly 1 million veterans were unemployed and male veterans age 18-24 had an overall unemployment rate of almost 30 percent. “Wal-Mart is hiring veterans because it is just the right thing to do,” Joe Quinn, Wal-Mart’s senior director of issue management and strategic outreach, said at the time of the announcement. “Men and women who fight for our country should never have to fight for a job.”

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