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: House Budget Passed, Reopening Updates, New UI MEUC program, Regional Pilot Project Grant Program, Unemployment Data, Farewell to CommCorp Youth Leaders
  • MWA Updates: Webinar Recap, MASSCAP Partnership, MassHire Champion Award Nominations, Racial Justice Resources, Trauma Informed Guide Released, CA WORKCON
  • Member Updates: Latest state grant awards, Upcoming Webinars re: Reopening, SkillBase updates Make It in MA, Greater New Bedford Career Center Success Story
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, Funding, Research, Training, and more
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State Public Policy
State House
MA House Passes FY2022 Budget

At around 2:30 a.m. this morning, the House unanimously passed a $47.716 billion budget with almost $60 million in additional funding added through amendments over three days of debate.

While the amendments MWA was advocating for were not included in the final FY2022 House budget, as a whole, this budget makes significant investments in various workforce programs. MWA thanks Speaker Mariano, Chairman Michlewitz, and Chairman Cutler for their support of workforce programs throughout the Commonwealth. You can view the final House budget here. A few highlights from the budget include:

  • Career Centers: $5M
  • YouthWorks: $24M
  • Connecting Activities: $7M
  • WCTF: $10M
  • Learn to Earn: $300K
  • Re-entry: $2.5M
  • Apprenticeships: $500K
  • Career Technical Institutes (CTI): $4M

The final House budget also creates an Offshore Wind Energy Career Training Trust Fund and initially funds it with $10MThis Fund would include MassHire regional employment boards as entities able to receive grants to develop regional strategies to support the development of the offshore wind energy industry. See here for additional information.

See MWA's budget sheet for priority workforce line items tracked by MWA. See MWA's Budget Workbook for additional line items related to workforce development. 

The budget will now be sent to the Senate with the Senate Ways and Means Committee tentatively releasing its budget the week of May 10th. Note, the House budget does not include any of the over $4 billion in federal funding that Massachusetts will receive from the American Rescue Plan. The Administration and Legislature will have to determine how to use those funds later this spring.
Reopening Updates

Earlier this week the Baker-Polito Administration announced that outdoor mask mandates will be lifted on April 30th with plans to fully reopen the state by August 1st.

Important dates include:
  • April 30th: Masks will no longer be required outdoors when possible to socially distance.
  • May 10th: Capacity at large venues increase in addition to reopening of amusement parks, road races and other sports tournaments.
  • May 29th: Gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors. In addition, street festivals and parades will be allowed.
  • August 1st: MA plans to eliminate most businesses restrictions and will allow dance clubs and other businesses to reopen.

Click here for additional details.
MA Regional Pilot Project Grant Awards Announced

Earlier this month, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $5 million in grants to cities, towns, and nonprofits through a Regional Pilot Project Grant Program designed to support local recovery projects. Click here to learn more.

MA Claimants Now Eligible to Apply for MEUC

Beginning on April 23rd, MA UI claimants became eligible to apply for the new Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. This program is targeted at workers who had multiple sources of income that varied in eligibility for traditional unemployment compensation. These benefits provide for an extra $100 weekly and are retroactive.

Click here to learn more.
March 2021 Unemployment Rate and Claims Data
On 4/16, the state released the unemployment rate for March 2021. Massachusetts saw its seasonally adjusted rate decline 0.2 percentage points to 6.8 percent from the revised February rate of 7.0 percent, still higher than the U.S. rate of 6.0 percent.

The MA labor force participation rate, 66.4 percent, is up 0.4 percentage points from the prior year. The labor force increased by 4,500 from February. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates were released on 4/20 and the local press release can be found here.

MassBenchmarks came out with its Q1 economic bulletin. They note that despite MA continuing to have a higher unemployment rate than the US, the rate has fallen faster in the state than the nation, due to faster job growth in the state during this time. The U-6 unemployment rate (a measure of underemployment in addition to unemployment) in March was 9.4 percent in MA and 10.7 percent in the US, lower than December 2020, but significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. The number of marginally attached workers is similar to what was seen during the Great Recession (2008/2009), and may indicate workers who will be ready to return to work once they feel it is safe and/or schools and childcare reopen completely. Click here to read the full report.

UI Claims Data
Last week DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 4/22/2021 including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date. Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry. Note: initial claims for the current and prior week are estimated due to a system processing error and corrected values will be provided when available.
  • Continued claims for the week ending 4/10 decreased for the seventh consecutive week at 96,337.
  • Since April 20, 2020, more than 965K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 20, 2020, more than 222K people filed claims for continued weeks under PEUC.
  • As of April 17th, there were 4,931 claims for continued weeks for federal/state Extended Benefits (EB).
Commonwealth Corporation Says Farewell to Susan Lange and Jennifer Applebaum
After an incredibly successful 2020 YouthWorks Summer Jobs program, adapted to meet the work readiness needs of teens across the Commonwealth during an unprecedented pandemic, Commonwealth Corporation said farewell this month to two key leaders, Susan Lange, Vice President of Youth Pathways and Jennifer Applebaum, Director of YouthWorks. On behalf of MWA and the MA workforce development community, we wish them the best of luck in their next endeavors. Click here to view one of the inspiring youth testimonies from YouthWorks Randolph last summer.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
Updates from D.C.

Federal Budget Update
The Biden Administration has released its high level budget proposal which includes a 6% increase to WIOA. Not a lot of details are available yet but click here for highlights included in President Biden's proposed budget for U.S. DOL.

Building an Economy for Families Act
Earlier this week, Chairman Neal (D-MA) and the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled a plan to reshape the American economy through universal paid family and medical leave, guaranteed access to child care, and permanently extending worker and family-related refundable tax credits from the Rescue Plan. See here for a one-pager on the bill and here for a section-by-section summary. As with most pieces of legislation this session, the Act's chances of passage on the Senate side are doubtful.

Long Term Unemployment Elimination Act Introduced in Congress
Earlier this month Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) along with Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Long Term Unemployment Elimination Act. This legislation would create a subsidized job program specifically targeted at the long term unemployed that would be run primarily through local workforce development boards. There is also an emphasis on necessary support services and the accompanying training needed to support these workers. See here for a section-by-section summary and here for a fact sheet.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund Updates

The Small Business Association (SBA) announced that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund portal will begin accepting applications on May 3rd at 12:00 p.m.

SBA has put together a Knowledge Base page with responses to frequently asked questions. Eligible businesses can use this sample application form to prepare information ahead of submission but should not submit the sample forms to the SBA.

Eligible businesses should apply as early as possible, as funds are limited.

U.S. DOL Starts a National Online Dialogue on How to Better Serve Youth

U.S. Department of Labor has invited teens, parents, educators, employers and other interested stakeholders to join a national dialogue to gather ideas on how the department can connect with teens better. Click here to submit an idea by April 30th or review ideas that have been submitted.

White House Releases State-by-State Fact Sheets to Highlight Need for Jobs Plan

Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris Administration released state-by-state fact sheets highlighting urgent infrastructure needs and the benefits of the proposed American Jobs Plan for all communities. Click here to see the fact sheet for Massachusetts.
Input Sought from Stakeholders on Workforce Policies
Earlier this month, Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, requested input from stakeholders on policy ideas on workforce development. The Senators announced they intend to work together to develop bipartisan solutions to update and expand workforce training programs, support and expand the National Apprenticeship Act, and encourage innovation.

Click here to read the letter that was sent to the Committee by the United States Workforce Association (USWA) (of which MWA is a member).
April Workforce Webinar Recap: Improvise into the Unknown
On April 20th MWA welcomed Pam Victor from Happier Valley Comedy to share the workshop Improvise into the Unknown: Techniques for Adapting to Uncertain Times with More Ease and Joy. About 30 participants joined the interactive webinar which included entertaining stories, and the wisdom of improv tenets. The immediately-applicable techniques are meant to help reframe challenges, redefine failure, and quiet the internal messages of fear and self-judgment that inhibit progress at work. The session was fun and engaging.

Save the date for our next Workforce Webinar: Supporting Job Seekers with Disabilities During and After COVID-19 scheduled for May 18th at 3PM. Click here to register.
MWA and MASSCAP Host Follow-Up Event: Strengthening Community Action and Workforce Development Partnerships
MWA and MASSCAP are co-hosting a follow-up event to our November progam to convene Community Action and Workforce Development network representatives virtually. We're coming back together on Tuesday, May 11th at 1PM to deepen our discussion around the needs we're seeing in our communities and strategies to address income inequality through strengthened partnerships. Jenn James, Undersecretary of Labor and Workforce Development and Aviva Rothman-Shore, Deputy Director Program and Strategy for the Department of Housing and Community Development, will join us. If you are an MWA member and interested in participating, contact Raija Vaisanen for more information.
MassHire Champion Award Nominations Open
For the second year, the 2021 MassHire Awards will feature a new special recognition, the MassHire Champion. Last year, Donna Cupelo of Verizon received the award for her years of service supporting the system through being a local and statewide board chair, in addition to being a private sector leader who literally championed the public workforce system's work for many years. This special recognition is intended to honor an individual or a team who has made significant contributions to the MassHire System. These individuals exemplify the MassHire values in addition to having demonstrated sustained support, promotion and partnership with the MassHire system. Eligible nominees include any person or a team who is external to the MassHire system (i.e. not employed by a MassHire workforce board or career center, MassHire Department of Career Services, or the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development).This can include MassHire volunteers, business partners, and staff of partner agencies and organizations. For more information, click here for the issuance and here for the nomination form. Nominations are due May 14th. 
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
National Fund for Workforce Solutions Releases Guide to A Trauma-Informed Approach to Workforce Development
Over the past year, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions led a process to develop an introductory document to help businesses and workforce development organizations have a better understanding and appreciation for trauma-informed practice. MWA's Associate Director, Raija Vaisanen, participated on the work group assembled to develop the guide. There is much more work to be done to bring trauma-informed approaches to employment and the workforce system. This introduction is just a start. Click here to download the guide. Click here for a Corporation for a Skilled Workforce blog by one of the guide's authors, Vickie Choitz.
California Workforce Association's 2021 Virtual WORKCON
The California Workforce Association is inviting workforce professionals from around the country to join its annual spring conference this year virtually. Click here to learn more and to register. Click here for a brief promotional video.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Grant Awards for Young Adults with Disabilities Training and Round 2 Career Technical Initiative
Earlier this month, the Baker-Polito Administration and Commonwealth Corporation announced the awards for two key workforce training programs. The Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities will fund 4 existing training programs to increase capacity for additional participants. Awardees include The Polus Center, JVS Boston, CWS and Employment Options. Click here to read the press release.

The second round of Career Technical Initiative (CTI) training grants will invest $850K to train 168 individuals ready to either enter the workforce or advance in their current careers. The vocational-technical high schools that will be developing these career-technical institutes for adults in partnership with MassHire Career Centers and other local partners include Nashoba Valley Technical H.S., Essex North Agricultural and Technical School, Madison Park Technical Vocational School, and Greater Lowell Technical High School. Click here to read the press release. Today, the Administration held an event at Essex North Agricultural and Technical School to celebrate the total CTI awards (Rounds 1 & 2) made to 10 vocational-technical schools around the state to date. Click here to read the press release from that event.

Make sure to check out the "Around the Sector" section below for information about additional recently released CTI grant opportunities, including an RFR for Market Maker employer engagement positions.
Mass Nonprofit Network to Host a Webinar on Preparing for Post-COVID Workplace
MNN is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, May 11th at 1PM that may be very relevant for the MA workforce development and training community.

The 90-minute webinar, COVID Now & Later – Navigating the COVID-Related Issues Today and Preparing for the Changed Workplace of Tomorrow, will be presented by Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP. Some of the topics to be discussed include the latest regulatory developments regarding unemployment insurance, COBRA, reasonable accommodation, vaccination issues, the changing workplace, and workplace safety concerns. There will be opportunity for questions during the course of the presentation. The webinar will be recorded and distributed afterward, as well. Click here to read more about the webinar and click here to register.
#MakeItInMassachusetts Virtual Manufacturing Day Returning in May
For the second year, partners across the state in the Make it in Massachusetts effort to promote careers and training in manufacturing will be hosting this program virtually. Click here for their website for more information starting May 1.
Harvard Project on Workforce Reflects on Partnerships and Development of SkillBase
The Harvard Project on Workforce has worked over the past year on developing SkillBase, an online tool to help job seekers and those who work with them find the careers their current skills may easily transfer to, and the training necessary to upskill for other careers. In this blog post, they reflect on their process for developing the tool, including partnering with MassHire to test and offer feedback on how best to integrate the tool into current support for job seekers.
MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center Job Seeker Success Story
The MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center received a huge thank you from one of the many job seekers they've been serving throughout the pandemic. This individual went from needing resume writing support to coaching through rejection before landing their ultimate goal - a new job. Click here to read more.
MassHire Merrimack Valley Workforce Board Issues RFP for Career Center Operator/Service Provider
On behalf of the MassHire Merrimack Valley Workforce Board, the City of Lawrence is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a One-Stop Career Center Operator/Service Provider for the Lower Merrimack Valley region from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Click here to view and download the solicitation. Applications close June 9th.
  • Job Opportunity - MassHire North Shore Workforce Board is hiring a Northeast Healthcare Hub Training Manager and a Career Center Executive Director. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring for several positions: Program Manager for Sector Strategies, YouthWorks Associate Director, Director of YouthWorks, Controller, Staff Accountant, WTFP Program Coordinator, and YouthWorks Program Manager. Click here to view the postings and to apply.

  • Job Opportunity - Mass Business Roundtable is hiring a Public Policy and Operations Manager. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - The Providers' Council is hiring a Public Policy and Communications Associate. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - The New England Board of Higher Education is hiring a Director of Finance and Administration. Click here to view the postings and learn more.

  • Funding Opportunity - Commonwealth Corporation has issued an RFR for for the third round of the Career Technical Initiative (CTI) Adult Training Planning Grants. Applications will are due May 13th. Click here to learn more. An RFR for the third round of CTI Adult Training Grants is also open and due May 10th. Click here to learn more.

  • Funding Opportunity - Commonwealth Corporation has issued an RFR to fund Market Maker positions in each of the seven broad WIOA regional planning areas to support employer engagement in the CTI and other Workforce Skills Cabinet training programs. The deadline for responses is Monday, May 20th. Click here to read more and apply.

  • Funding Opportunity - The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is seeking proposals for its Expanding Access to Opportunity in the Offshore Wind Workforce program. Click here to learn more. Proposals are due May 7th.

  • Funding Opportunity - U.S. DOL announced a technical assistance grant program with $3.5M in funding to move more women into registered apprenticeship programs in nontraditional fields. Click here to learn more.

  • Employer Hiring Opportunity - Wayfair is welcoming people into its reacHIRE cohort for "returnships" with the company for individuals returning from a 2+ year break out of the labor force. Click here to learn more.

  • US DOL Wage and Hour Division Initiative - US Department of Labor has launched an initiative, Essential Workers, Essential Protections to ensure that workers know about the wage and hour laws that protect them – and how to contact DOL to get the help they need. Click here for more information.

  • Webinar - The Boston Business Journal is hosting a free discussion on Managing Mental Health at Work - A Local Perspective on Wednesday, May 5th at 9AM via Zoom. Click here to learn more and register.

  • Webinar - Philanthropy MA is holding a webinar for funders and nonprofits on May 25th at 10AM on Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in a Pandemic: Steps toward Resilience. Click here to learn more and register.

  • Webinar Recording - National Council of Nonprofits recently held a webinar focused on reopening post pandemic. Click here to view.

  • News - Massachusetts' Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) was recently recognized by the US Department of Justice as a promising program. Click here to learn more.

  • OpEd - Ron Painter of NAWB wrote an op-ed published in the Boston Herald recently, arguing for more investment in the public workforce system for a strong economic recovery. Click here to read more.

  • Research Tool - Occupational Mobility Explorer developed by the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland. Report that accompanies the tool can be found here.

  • News - Massasoit Community College's Board of Trustees will recommend Ray DiPasquale as next president of the college. Read more here.

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