Welcome to the Massachusetts Workforce Association's monthly newsletter: Workforce Connections! Look for this publication in your inbox each month and share with your staff and others.

In This Issue:
  • State and Federal Policy Updates, State Data Updates
  • MWA Updates: New Member Benefit, Racial Equity in Workforce Development Resources, MassHire Award Finalist Workshops
  • Member Updates: MassHire North Central, MassHire Central and MassHire Cape & Islands
  • News From Around the Sector - Jobs, Funding, Research, Training, and more
State Public Policy
MWA Submits Testimony to the House's Special Committee

On July 21st, the House Resilience and Recovery Special Committee held an invitation only hearing on economic recovery and workforce training. Those testifying at the hearing included Jay Ash, President and CEO, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, David Friedman, Senior Vice President, Legal & Government Affairs, Boston Red Sox, and Jennifer James, Undersecretary for Workforce Development. Click here to read MWA's written testimony. Thank you to Ron Iacobucci and the MassHire South Shore Region for their assistance in submitting MWA's testimony.
DUA Issues Guidance on Extended Benefits Program

On August 8th, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provided an update on the state's Extended Benefits (EB) program. Under the EB program, eligible claimants may be eligible for up to 13 additional weeks of UI payments The EB program was triggered by economic conditions relating to the Commonwealth's high unemployment rate. Claimants who have exhausted their regular UI benefit may be eligible for the EB program.
End of July Recap

The last week of July, which typically represents the end of formal sessions in even-numbered years, included a flurry of activity as both the House and Senate passed legislation on key outstanding issues. Both branches have voted to suspend their rules and keep formal sessions open for issues related to the state budget, COVID-19, and the resolution of unfinished business, such as bills passed in both chambers and awaiting reconciliation. See below for important legislation that passed at the end of July and remain in conference:

  • Economic Development: In the last week of July, the House and Senate each passed their own versions of an economic development bill. While both bills included similar bonding authority and versions of the Governor's Housing Choice legislation, the House bill would legalize sports betting, while the Senate bill would not. These bills were sent to conference on July 30th and the members of the conference committee include: Representatives Ferrante, Michlewitz, and Wong and Senators Lesser, Rodrigues, and O'Connor. You can read MWA's letter to the conference committee here.

  • Police Reform: In July, both the House and Senate passed comprehensive police reform bills. Key differences exist between the bills including: qualified immunity, the role of the AG in investigating police misconduct, school resource officers, and the use of facial recognition, among other issues. These bills were sent to conference on July 27th and the members of the conference committee include: Representatives Cronin, Gonzalez, and Whelan and Senators Brownsberger, Chang-Diaz, and Tarr.

  • Transportation: Both the House and Senate passed differing versions of a transportation bond bill, with the House also passing legislation that includes raising revenue to pay for transportation projects. These bills were sent to conference on July 23rd and the members of the conference committee include: Representatives Straus, Cusack, and Orrall and Senators Boncore, Rodrigues, and Tran.

  • Climate Change: Both the House and Senate passed bills to address climate change including road maps for how to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. These bills were sent to conference on August 6th and the members of the conference committee include: Representatives Golden, Haddad, and Jones and Senators Barrett, Creem, and O'Connor.

  • Heath Care: Pre-COVID, health care reform was an issue both branches had prioritized after failing to reach consensus last session. Both the House and Senate passed bills which would address telehealth, assist financially struggling community hospitals, and address out-of-network surprise billing. However, there remain major differences between the bills passed by both branches. These bills were sent to conference on July 31st and the members of the conference committee include: Representatives Mariano, Cullinane, and Hunt and Senators Friedman, Cyr, and Tran.

  • Other Matters: Other bills passed by one chamber or the other but of which agreement as not been reached include reforms to the state's foster care system, creating a commission to study racial disparities in maternal health, and licensing for midwives. In addition, while the Governor signed a 3-month interim FY21 budget, the Legislature will have to close out the FY20 budget and pass a full or partial FY21 budget.

Once the session ends later this fall/winter, look for a detailed session analysis and update from MWA!
July Unemployment Claims Data
Last week DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 8/1/2020, including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date.
  • Since March 15th, 1,160,159 people filed for unemployment in Massachusetts.
  • Since April 20th, more than 701K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 21st, nearly 84K people filed for PEUC.
  • For the first time since April 18th, continued claims during the week of 7/26 - 8/1 were below 500K at 491,066.

Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry.

Click here for updated data and Tableau charts for initial claims through 8/1/2020 by city/town, race, ethnicity, sex, industry, occupation and *new addition* education level. Click here for the data and Tableau charts by the same demographic categories for continued claims. See below for more labor market data dashboards:

The state unemployment rate is scheduled to be released Friday, August 21st and local area unemployment rates on Tuesday, August 25th.
Federal Public Policy
Congressman Moulton Introduces Workforce Related Legislation

Congressman Moulton (D-MA) recently partnered with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to introduce the Elevating America’s Workforce Act. See here for the text of the bill, here for a one-pager, and here for a section by section summary.
In short, the bill proposes to: 
  • Identify displaced workers whose jobs have disappeared and will require new skills to reenter the workforce, 
  • Provide displaced workers with a flexible personal reemployment account to be used on training, 
  • Provide access to counseling and other services offered through the local workforce development system, 
  • Engage and support employer efforts to provide work-based training programs, and 
  • Provide a bonus to individuals who successfully complete a recognized post-secondary credential or work-based training and earn a permanent job. 
Questions or feedback on this legislation, reach out to Tonja anytime.
President Trump Issues Executive Orders

As Congress continues to be at a stalemate over a fourth COVID relief package, on August 8th, President Trump issued four executive orders impacting unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, evictions, and student loan payments.

The executive order impacting unemployment insurance (FPUC), which expired on July 25th, would provide additional UI funds so long as states provided 25% of the funding out of unspent CARES Act funding. The federal portion will be funded through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund ($44 billion) for the federal share and the State and Local CARES Act funding for the state share.

There are still questions, with many states indicating they do not plan to participate. See here for additional information on the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. Governor Baker has indicated Massachusetts will look to implement the extension in Massachusetts as there are no other options currently.
New PPP Loan Forgiveness Guidance:
The Small Business Administration and Treasury Department recently released additional information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including:
New MWA Member Benefit: Workforce Webinars
MWA Launches New Professional Learning Webinars for Members
MWA kicked off a new benefit for members in July, Workforce Webinars: Professional Learning Sessions, with the first session focused on pay-for-performance program models, presented by Third Sector. In the next webinar, scheduled for Monday, September 21st at 3PM, we will hear from John Henderson of EANE on "Tips for the New Work Environment: Remote & In-Office."

MWA Members: Keep an eye out for registration invitations for this and other upcoming Workforce Webinars in October and beyond. For non-members interested in learning more about the benefits of MWA membership, click here.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
MWA, EOLWD and MDCS Partner to Feature MassHire Award Finalists in Workshops
On August 17th, MWA held the first of 4 sessions featuring finalists from the 2020 MassHire Awards. This session featured finalists from the Respect category (MassHire Springfield) and Collaboration (MassHire Franklin Hampshire). Roughly 45 participants from across the Massachusetts workforce development community learned about the ways that the team in Springfield pulled together during a staffing transition and COVID-19 to become an even stronger team. In the webinar, Springfield also shared how they found ways to serve customers during this time using innovative and virtual methods, including using the XODO app and developing a "mobile-user cheat sheet" to help those with limited technology access or experience.

The team from Franklin Hampshire walked participants through the process of developing and streamlining a strong training partnership between a workforce board, career center, and community college. While it took several years to get to the place they are today, their efforts to leverage state grants with WIOA training dollars and integrate work readiness into an academic curriculum, among other things, has led to better outcomes for job seekers and local businesses.

Click here for the issuance with links to register for future workshops.
Congratulations to the 2020 MassHire Award Winners!
MWA would like to congratulate all of the 2020 MassHire Award finalists, especially the 5 winning regions!
  • Collaboration - Greater New Bedford
  • Respect - Greater Lowell
  • Reliability - Franklin-Hampshire
  • Ingenuity - Metro South/West
  • Living MassHire - North Shore/NAMC

Regions were nominated for their work exemplifying the core MassHire values of collaboration, respect, reliability, ingenuity and 'Living MassHire.' MWA will be featuring the finalists in each category on our blog and on social media over the next several months.

Click here for the issuance with links to register for upcoming workshops in September and October! Click here for a list of all the winners. Click here to view Governor Baker's remarks for the ceremony.
MassHire North Central Workforce Board and Career Center Partner for Successful Virtual Training

The Polus Center in collaboration with the MHNCWB, MHNCCC, Thryv Consulting, MRC and CVS effectively developed and implemented a pharmacy technician training program that has led to sustained employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the region.

Their tireless efforts, including the fast-track development of a virtual training program in response to COVID-19 that included distribution of laptops to participants, truly represents dedication to serving community members and advancing workforce initiatives targeting critical occupations in the healthcare sector.

To date, they have completed two cycles of this program. They will continue to enhance and expand this career pathway for undeserved and disadvantaged populations so graduates may lead independent and successful lives. To read more about the program on MWA's blog, click here.
MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and JobGet Featured in Brookings Case Study
The Brookings Institute recently published a case study featuring the partnership between MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and JobGet, a partnership forged in response to the pandemic and employer and job seeker needs to connect more efficiently in a virtual environment.

To read the case study, click here.
MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board Celebrates Youth Graduates
In their latest newsletter, the MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board highlighted the work of several graduates including Megan Catton (pictured here). Megan has been a participant of the ArtWorks program for 2 years. She is a recent graduate of Bourne High School and will be attending MassArt in the fall of 2020. Megan completed the artwork shown here alongside her ArtWorks mentor, Nora Cannon.

In addition, the workforce board's Youth Council awarded 19 scholarships to local graduating seniors, ranging from $250-$600. New this year was the award of two technology scholarships. All the students had shown a tremendous amount of growth throughout their years in high school and they all excelled in extra-curricular activities inside and outside of school. A common trend among all the students was their dedication to volunteer in their local community.
  • Recruitment for Long Term Care Facilities - Click here to learn more about the 20,000 positions currently open throughout the Commonwealth and the free training, increased pay, and other benefits of providing support to elders during this time.

  • Job Opportunity - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring a Workforce Training Fund Program Coordinator. Click here to view the posting and to apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Metro North Workforce Board is hiring a Youth Programs Manager. Click here to review the description and apply.

  • Funding Available - Commonwealth Corporation released the Request for Qualifications for the Learn to Earn Initiative: Training and Placement Pilot Programs (FY20 Appropriation) late last month. Click here to read more about the RFQ. Questions will be accepted through August 28th. To be notified of new responses, click here. The deadline to apply for this funding is September 9th.

  • Funding Available - MassHire Metro North Workforce Board has put out an RFP for Advanced Manufacturing Training Services for FY21. Click here for the RFP and related links to other forms and Q&A. The deadline for questions is August 21st and the deadline to apply is August 28th.

  • Request for Conference Proposals - The New England Workforce Network (NEWN) is accepting proposals for their next conference, March 19, 2021, at Holyoke Community College. The theme for the conference is Fast Forward: Innovative Workforce Development in Changing Times. The deadline for proposals is September 18th. Click here for the RFP.

  • Brief Survey Request - National Skills Coalition is looking for input from the workforce development community related to digital literacy skills. Click here to take the 3 question survey.

  • News - EOLWD and Commonwealth Corporation announced $2M in Sen. Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants (formerly known as WCTF) awarded to 9 partnerships across the state. Click here for the news release.

  • News - SkillWorks has a new Executive Director, Andre Green. Congratulations to Andre and the SkillWorks team at The Boston Foundation! Click here to learn more about Andre and read the press release.

  • News - MassHire Metro North Workforce Board announced a partnership with the Towns of Bedford and Burlington, MA for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of more than $321K. The grant will fund training for health care and life sciences jobs in the region. Click here to read more.

  • News - Congratulations to Kelsey Lamoureux from MassHire Central Region Workforce Board for being named one of Worcester Business Journal's 40 Under Forty. Click here to read more.

  • Research/Tool - The Metro Area Planning Commission (MAPC) released a report, in partnership with MassHire Metro North and MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Boards, on how to develop a community and regional rapid response plan for labor force disruptions and unemployment. Click here to read more and download the report.

  • Data/Research - The Cape Cod Commission has released a website of data dashboards related to the effect of the pandemic on the region. Click here to view the data visualizations.

  • Research - National Skills Coalition has released a new report on how states can improve and increase upskilling efforts for incumbent workers. The report includes Massachusetts' own Workforce Training Fund Program as a model example. To read NSC's blog with a link to the report, click here.

  • Webinar - Strada Education Foundation is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, August 26th at 2PM on Americans' interest in short term and online training options. Click here to register.

  • Webinar - The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is hosting another webinar in their "Ask Us Anything Series" focused on Childcare as a Key Community Development Priority on August 26th at 2PM. Click here to register. For links to past webinar recordings in the series, including the most recent on Racial Equity and the Future of Workforce Development, click here.

  • Webinar - The Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute is holding a webinar on August 26th at 2PM on California's Approach to Recovery and Resilience: Centering Equity and Job Quality. Click here to learn more and register.

  • Webinar - Chmura Economics is holding a webinar on How to Reopen Job Centers Without Getting People Sick on Friday, August 28th at 12PM. Click here to register.

  • Virtual Event - Jobs for the Future is holding a two-day virtual institute from September 15 - 16th on Women in Skilled Manufacturing Apprenticeships and Careers: An Introduction to Equity and Inclusion. Click here to learn more and register.

  • Article - Maureen Conway from the Aspen Institute wrote the following Op-Ed in Politico arguing that Congress is focusing on the wrong problem - high unemployment - rather than the problem of low wages. Click here to read more.

  • Article - NewProfit's Dr. Angela Jackson recently wrote a piece for Medium on America's Best Kept Future of Work Secret: How Modernizing Workforce Boards Can Support Workers Experiencing Low Wages. Click here to read the article.

  • Blog - The National Fund for Workforce Solutions' Janice Urbanik recently wrote a piece on why Job Quality is More Important Than Ever. Click here to read the post.
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