CSG Midwest
A new initiative in Indiana is looking beyond the state’s K-12 population as a means to increase the percentage of Hoosiers with education beyond high school. The goal of the “You Can. Go Back.” program is to encourage the 750,000 Indiana adults who completed some college, but left before earning a degree, to come back and finish what they started. Through a mix of strategic marketing and financial aid, the campaign hopes to attract 200,000 adults back to college by 2020, and help them complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a workforce credential.
“You Can. Go Back.” is administered by the Indiana Commission of Higher Education in partnership with the state’s public university system, but has also gained the support of nearly two dozen private institutions and a variety of businesses.
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An estimated 54 million Americans live with a disability. The majority of adults with disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed—despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work in the community and contribute to the economy. People with disabilities bring valuable skills to the workforce, and hiring them benefits the business community and employees alike.

As such, people with disabilities are a key factor in states' ability to build strong, inclusive workforces that translate into economic success. And "moving the needle" on this critical workforce issue will require strong public policy at the state level that addresses systemic number of key areas.

A new federal law allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged  savings accounts set up by states. These accounts -- called ABLE -- are much like 529 college savings plan. 

On February 23, Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenburg announced plans to make his state’s plan available nationwide.

Following on the heels of an active December that saw Congress avoid a government shutdown, extend tax breaks for Americans and pass education reform, there is hope that President Obama and Congress will carry this unexpected span of bipartisanship into 2016. Although impossible to know with certainty which issues will be tackled, criminal justice reform could be on the list.  

CSG Director of Fiscal and Economic Development Policy Jennifer Burnett outlines the top five issues for 2016, including strategic decisions following modest revenue growth, workforce development, public pensions, federal instability, and health care costs. 

CSG Director of Education Policy Elizabeth Whitehouse outlines the top five issues in workforce development policy for 2016, including Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act implementation, employment issues for people with criminal records, engaging people with disabilities in the workforce, veterans' employment issues, and career pathways for students.

Top 5 Issues in Workforce Development

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Implementation

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, also known as WIOA, became effective on July 1, 2015. However, the act includes several provisions that become effective on other dates. On March 1, 2016, governors must submit a Unified or Combined State Plan pertaining to workforce...

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments requests that the Congress and the Executive Branch work with the States to promote the quality of life for all men and women of the armed forces and improve state-federal coordination in the provision of and greater access to programs, services, and benefits that support veterans’ employment, education, job training, health, and housing needs.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments requests that the Congress and the Executive Branch pursue educational policies that promote and ensure state flexibility and a healthy state-federal partnership in the vital task of educating America’s children and growing our economy

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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