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: COVID-19 Legislation and DUA Guidance
  • MWA Updates: MWA Hosts Virtual Meetings in May and June
  • Member Updates: Central, Franklin Hampshire, and Metro North Regions
  • News From Around the Sector - Jobs, Funding, Research, Training, and more
State Policy Updates
State COVID-19 Legislation

Last week the House and Senate passed and the Governor signed two COVID-19 related pieces of legislation:

Visit MWA's new state COVID-19 legislation page on our website to view summaries and full text of these two bills.
DUA Releases More FAQs for Employers

Last week DUA released additional guidance for employers aimed at answering questions and providing updated information as employers begin calling furloughed employees back to work. Click below to read the guidance.
WSG Summits Recommendations for 2020 Economic Development Bill

MWA joined the Workforce Solutions Group (WSG) in submitting ideas to Senator Lesser and Representative Ferrante, Chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, for any economic development bill the committee will draft. In the letter, WSG urged the Chairs to "prioritize equity in your recovery pans: evaluating investments for their ability to close racial, opportunity, and geographic inequity gaps."

You can read the full letter here .
MA Black and Latino Caucus Releases 10-Point Plan
On June 2, 2020 the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus joined electeds from all levels of government, including federal, state, county, and municipal to share concrete and actionable steps that can be taken to combat systemic racism, police brutality, and various forms of injustice. You can review their 10-Point Policy proposal here .

MWA's Public Policy Committee will be reviewing this proposal at its next meeting.
DUA Releases Initial Claims Data with Detailed Characteristics
The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently released initial UI claim data by city/town, industry, occupation, gender and ethnicity. Data are only initial claims (those who applied for unemployment assistance due to being on temporary furlough or permanent separation) from 3/21/20202 through 5/30/2020. These data don't include PUA (those who were self-employed or gig workers) or PEUC filers (those filing for an extension of unemployment benefits because they have exhausted or expired their regular benefits). Click here for the Tableau tables.

Last week DUA also released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 6/11/2020, including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date.
  • Since March 15th, nearly 969K people filed for unemployment in Massachusetts.
  • Since April 20th, more than 594K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 21st, nearly 47K people filed for PEUC.

Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry. For the national initial claims release for the week ending 6/11/2020, click here. For the latest monthly state unemployment rate press release for April 2020, click here. May 2020 state level data will be released June 19th and local data on June 23rd.
Federal Policy Updates
Congress Passes Updates to Paycheck Protection Program

On June 5, 2020, the President signed the  Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020 , which modifies certain provisions of the CARES Act. The Act makes certain pieces of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) more favorable to borrowers. Key pieces of this Act include:
  • Extension of maturity date for PPP loans.
  • Extension of payment deferral period.
  • Changes in loan forgiveness including:
  • Extension of covered periods;
  • Increases in percentage of non payroll costs;
  • Extension of time to rehire employees and restore compensation; and
  • Exemption for inability to rehire employees.
  • Payroll tax deferrals.

Click here to read the full text of this Act .
A Call-to-Action by the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board

The National Council for the American Workforce Advisory Board , an initiative of the Trump Administration, recently released a national workforce recovery call to action.
The call-to-action in response to COVID-19 is organized around three immediate workforce recovery goals:
  • Expedite American workers’ return to employment and upward mobility by investing in career pathways and implementing skills-based hiring practices.
  • Remove obstacles to the modernization of American education and training to accelerate reskilling and facilitate innovation in workforce development.
  • Build the technological infrastructure necessary for the future of work.

Click here to view the full report.
USWA Submits Letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
In May, through USWA, MWA joined seventeen other state workforce associations in submitting an appropriations letter to the Senate Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
The exact timeline for the subcommittees consideration is in flux but markups could occur in later June and into July. This request is for the "regular" WIOA formula funding allocation which would be in addition to any ‘emergency’ funds that Congress includes during any upcoming COVID-19 response package. Click here to view the letter.
Skills to Recover: Capitol Hill Update
On June 17th at 1PM, join the National Skills Coalition, National Association of Workforce Boards, and the US Workforce Association for a virtual conversation about the current climate in Washington, D.C. Share feedback, stories and solutions that can be brought to congressional leaders. Click here to register.
Virtual Convening During COVID-19
Conversation with Congresswoman Trahan
On May 26th, Congresswoman Trahan joined MWA members for a conversation about the federal policy response to COVID-19, what investments are still needed, and what a 4th COVID relief package could look like. MWA members also shared what they are hearing from local businesses and job seekers.
2020 MWA Virtual Annual Meeting Series
MWA has gone virtual for our 2020 Annual Meeting Series!

The first session featured UMass Lowell's Beth Humberd and Scott Latham, who spoke about how COVID-19 accelerated many businesses into the future of work.

Our second session included Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante in a discussion around economic recovery and state public policy during COVID-19.

We also heard from Chris Andresen from the U.S. Workforce Association about the latest updates on workforce development policy action on Capitol Hill.
National Skills Coalition's Amanda Bergson-Shilcock Shares Digital Literacy and Equity Research
Earlier in June, MWA members were fortunate to be joined by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow at the National Skills Coalition, for an update on the state of digital literacy and the increasing imperative that workers have these digital skills.

To read NSC's recent report on digital literacy, click here. To read the accompanying brief "Applying a Racial Equity Lens to Digital Literacy" click here.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
MassHire Award Finalists Announced
Last year, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the MassHire State Workforce Board held the first annual MassHire Day, recognizing exceptional work across the MassHire workforce system. This year, 12 MassHire organizations were selected as finalists for the 2020 MassHire Awards. Organizations submitted nominations for recognition along the core MassHire values of collaboration, respect, reliability, ingenuity and 'Living MassHire.' The award ceremony will be held virtually this year on July 23rd. Congratulations to all for the great work being recognized!

Click here to read the issuance and here for the announcement.
Worcester Director Honored for Work

Janice Weekes, MassHire Central Career Centers Director, was recognized by the City of Worcester as a Hero Among Us during the pandemic in the City of Worcester Employee News bulletin. Congratulations to Janice - well deserved for her efforts leading the career center staff through the transition to remote services to support businesses and job seekers in the region.
MassHire Metro North Workforce Board Announces Selection of New Career Center Operator
MassHire Metro North recently announced ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development) will be the new operator for the MassHire Metro North Career Center effective July 1st. Congratulations to ABCD! We look forward to working with you and thank The Workplace for their work operating the career center through June 30th.

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Plans 3-Day Virtual Job Expo
The MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center is holding a virtual job expo on June 22-24 that is free for employers and job seekers. This virtual job fair will bring together dozens of employers from Franklin County, Hampshire County, North Quabbin area, and beyond who are looking for new workers in a wide range of industries including health care, manufacturing, landscaping, administration, warehousing, transportation, education, banking and more.

  • 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, signing bonuses, and other benefits of providing support to elders during this time.

  • Webinar - Join American Student Assistance and MENTOR National for a virtual forum on Youth Workforce Development and Digital Work-Based Learning During COVID-19. Click here to register and learn more.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring for several positions including an Online Career Development Facilitator. Click here to view the postings and to apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board is looking for a new Executive Director. Click here to view the posting and a link to apply.

  • YouthWorks is recruiting businesses, community partners and professionals to participate in this summer's YouthWorksStrong virtual offerings. Click here to view and share a quick YouTube video about the opportunities. To learn more about a 75 minute virtual lunch and learn volunteer opportunity, read this flyer. To learn more about a 2 hour project advisor commitment, read this flyer.

  • Mass General Brigham and UMass Online recently announced an alliance to help transform higher education for healthcare professionals. Read the press release here.

  • COVID-19 Related Research - Maguire Assoc. conducted a study for the New England Board of Higher Education on adult learners and their need for additional education and training in response to the pandemic. Click here for the summary PowerPoint.

  • COVID-19 Related Research - Which Workers Bear the Burden of Social Distancing Policies? - Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Click here for a blog post summarizing the research.

  • COVID-19 Related Research - Strada Education has released an interactive dashboard with its weekly updates from its COVID-19 Work and Education Survey. Click here to see the latest updates.

  • News - Associated General Contractors of MA donates $100K to Fitchburg State University for curriculum and lab support related to licensure requirements for construction managers and engineering technologists. Click here to read more.

  • Blog Post - Reinventing Restaurant Work: An Overdue Call for Equity and Job Quality. Click here to read the article.
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