Growing State Economies Tied to Increasing Talent Development

New York Sen. Carl Marcellino understands the evolving conditions as business and industry work to fill vacant jobs with skilled employees.  “The workplace is changing rapidly, making it imperative that we develop innovative ways to educate and prepare our students for the demands of an increasingly diverse and global culture and economy,” said Marcellino, the 2015 national chairman of The Council of State Governments.

Most states see evidence of economic growth in increases in job creation and an overall decrease in unemployment. But too many people remain unemployed, the skills gap dividing workers’ technical skills and those needed by business and industry continues to grow, and too many employees lack opportunities to advance.  “As a former educator, I know that a great education is the key that can open the door to a brighter future for our children,” said Marcellino.

“Students need more specialized skills and states must create the educational opportunities that produce the skills needed to both get and keep jobs.”  Marcellino will use his tenure as chairman to continue CSG’s “State Pathways to Prosperity” initiative started under the 2014 CSG chair, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris. The initiative focuses on the nexus between workforce development and education, with a particular emphasis on veterans, adults who are food insecure, job seekers with criminal backgrounds, and children and youth.

In an effort to assist states in advancing talent development, education services and job-driven training, CSG’s National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, along with its subcommittees, has developed top priorities in state policy and best practices.  “The programs that are successful are ones in which employers and educators are transparent in what they bring to the table and what they have to gain from the partnerships,” said Richard Dunfee, executive director, Grants Resource Center, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and a member of the national task force.

The task force recommendations will be released in early fall. CSG will provide technical assistance, such as convening and facilitating key stakeholders to train, motivate and help move state actions forward, throughout 2015.  The emphasis on leveraging legislation and state policy is critical to ensure success.  “State legislatures need to support industry, communities, education
systems and government entities as they work to form partnerships,” said South Dakota Rep. Jacqueline Sly, the 2015 national chairwoman of CSG’s Public Policy Committee on Education and
Workforce Development. “Each sector has a role to play as states work to have a skilled workforce to meet the demands and needs of business and industry.”

State Pathways to Prosperity Priorities:
Veterans’ Concerns
• Accept credit for military training, education and experience toward obtaining academic degrees—credit for prior learning.
• Provide credit for military training, education and experience toward obtaining occupational license or certifications.
• Leverage existing small business/entrepreneur initiatives for veterans.
• Create a centralized, opt-in database of veterans for states to utilize to educate and inform veterans of opportunities, benefits and programs.

Children and Youth
• Develop and implement promising and evidence-based programs and practices focused on improving outcomes for children and youth.
• Provide quality early childhood and K-12 education for all children.
• Provide support and sustainable assistance to families; implement comprehensive wraparound services, support community efforts to teach life and employment skills.
• Use data, research and impact assessment tools to target investments to yield the greatest impact for children.

Workforce Development and Education
• Provide opportunities to sequence credentials to build an individual’s qualifications, licensure flexibility, credit for prior learning and competency-based education.
• Direct state agencies to collaborate to develop actionable recommendations on sharing of data and develop a data dictionary to convey a common understanding and sharing of information.
• Encourage development of competency models by industry to help inform students of the skills needed in the industry sector.
• Encourage the use of career pathways to build successful careers.
• Match business competencies to education standards.

Hunger and Nutrition
• Conduct a food mapping assessment to identify food deserts and determine the need for intervention through program or policy change at the most appropriate level—local or state.
• Create a bipartisan task force including a broad coalition of public-private stakeholders to focus on hunger and nutrition. A task force could develop baselines and measurements for hunger and nutrition, review current policies and programs, set measureable goals, recommend policies and measure progress.
• Develop a statewide healthful food campaign through departments of public health using tools such as nutrition education for employees, wellness programs, tax incentives and insurance premium discounts to incentivize healthy behaviors.