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Training high on list in Workforce Development Working Group Report

Monday, January 29, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

Following the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp sounding the alarm on workforce development in early Spring of 2017, the Vermont Legislature passed S135, directing the Commissioner of Labor and the Chair of the State Workforce Development Board to convene a working group on the state’s workforce development system.

Through GBIC President Frank Cioffi's role as Chair of the State Workforce Development Board, GBIC took an active and leading role in this effort, dedicating hundreds of hours of staff time researching, compiling data, and collaborating with our partners in the region and throughout the state to help formulate this report. GBIC Vice President Seth Bowden served as a lead staff person, drafting and developing significant components of this report.

That working group issued its report on Monday, January 15, followed by testimony supporting this report to the Vermont House Commerce Committee and the Senate Economic Development Committee. This report should serve as a blueprint for re-engaging our young people, enabling under-employed Vermonters, and supporting key employers to build a more vibrant and effective state economy.

Key Deliverables

The working group, in collaboration with relevant State agencies, stakeholders, and workforce education and training providers, was directed to review all workforce development, education and training programs and resources, identify best practices among those systems, and recommend options to consider that could include restructuring State agencies and departments.

Key Challenges

Employers throughout our state warn of a skills crisis due to the lack of qualified workers to fill a wide-range of jobs, today and into the future. Beyond this, Vermont has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and there are not enough workers at all skill levels to fill current job vacancies.
Frustrating to the working group was learning of just how many Vermonters are under-employed - especially since it is not uncommon to hear eligible workers indicate they struggle to find a job that matches their training and/or interests. This ultimately means our parents, youth, and families are all increasingly anxious about a future where the next generation of workers may not have the same opportunities to prosper as the one before.

Key Recommendations
  • Commit to redesigning Vermont’s workforce development and training system so that all Vermonters who want to work, and all employers who want workers, can connect with what they need to thrive.
  • Implement the Career and Technical Education (CTE) recommendations designed to
    increase its full time participation opportunities, streamline education and curriculum delivery, and support equitable access to Career Pathways and work-based learning opportunities. 
  • Grant Additional SWDB Authorization by empowering the Board with the authority to approve state-endorsed and industry-recognized credentials in conjunction with the State Board of Education. 
  • Strengthen and align workforce training programs in Vermont with specific education and training courses targeting key priority economic sectors, and to encourage and support the creation of registered apprenticeship and mentorship programs that lead directly to full-time employment.
  • Increase labor force participation of workforce age Vermonters by engaging directly with these population, and examine incentives and training programs to help overcome barriers to workforce entry.
  • Improve alignment between Education and Workforce Development Systems by setting annual retention goals for graduates of Vermont's higher educations institutions and to create pilot student-employer engagement models with long-term scalable potential.

Source: Vermont Business Magazine

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