Workforce Development

The labor force participation rate of teens between 16 and 19 has declined substantially over the past thirty years. The average teen labor force participation rate across the states was 37.1 percent in 2015, compared to 56.8% in 1981. A recent BLS study analyzed the factors contributing to the decline in teens working.

In October 2016 the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $50.5 million in grants to help states develop and implement comprehensive strategies to support apprenticeship expansion. Grants were awarded to 36 states and one territory with grant awards ranging from $700,000 to $2,700,000.

The Council of State Governments has released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in nine key policy areas, including education, workforce development, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, interstate compacts, transportation, and international affairs.

State leaders are focused on skill development and apprenticeships as the way forward in increasing labor participation and attracting mid- and high-wage jobs to their states. As states and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, both are attempting to do so in a new environment. The 21st century has seen two historic shifts related to economics and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is the new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories employ fewer people but require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees.

CSG Director of Education and Workforce Development Policy Elizabeth Whitehouse and Education and Workforce Development Policy Analyst Donna Counts outline the top five issues in workforce development policy for 2017, including skills and apprenticeships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act implementation, wages and benefits, occupational licensure and workforce re-entry.

In 2016, The Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures assembled a national task force to focus on workforce development efforts targeting people with disabilities in the states. This task force had four subcommittees composed of state policymakers along with non-voting stakeholders from the private sector and academia. The third in a four-part series that coincides with the subcommittee topics, this CSG Capitol Research brief highlights the recommendations from the Hiring, Retention and Reentry, or HRR, Subcommittee of the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Employability for People with Disabilities.

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