Welcome to the Massachusetts Workforce Association's monthly newsletter: Workforce Connections! Look for this publication in your inbox each month and please share with your staff and others! They can be added to our mailing list here!

In This Issue:
  • State and Federal Policy Updates
  • MWA Updates: December Member Meeting and Workshop
  • Member Updates
  • News From Around the Sector
State Policy Updates
Still No Agreement on the FY19 Closeout Supplemental Budget Bill:
Both the House and Senate were in session past 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 21st. While the House and Senate made some progress on the procedural hurdles that were holding up negotiations, they did not settle on a compromise for the FY19 closeout budget. There has now been a conference committee appointed which includes: House Members: Michlewitz, Garlick, and Smola and Senate Members: Rodrigues, Friedman, and deMacdeo).

We will continue to press both the House and Senate to reach a compromise on the bills as soon as possible. MWA will keep you updated as we learn more.
Legislature Passes a Historic Compromise Bill on Education Funding
On Tuesday, the Education conference committee announced it had reached a compromise and on Wednesday the House and Senate passed a historic education reform bill. In addition to investing $1.5 billion into K-12 education over the next seven years, and of importance to MWA members, this bill requires districts to consider how they might better prepare students for college and careers in local three-year plans. In addition, and for the first time, the state will collect, and report on, data that will help show whether we are preparing students for success after high school. You can read the text of the the legislation here .
Baker Administration files Economic Development Plan with Legislature
The Baker Administration recently filed their economic development plan with the Legislature. On November 5th, there was a public hearing by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. Following the legislative hearing, the plan will be submitted to the Governor for his review and approval before the end of the year. 
The plan, entitled "Partnerships for Growth: A plan to enable the Commonwealth's regions to build, connect and lead" reflects the input of the Economic Development Council and is the result of extensive engagement across the state. In summary, the plan lays out four pillars: (1) building vibrant communities; (2) supporting business competitiveness, (3) training a skilled workforce; and (4) responding to the housing crisis. 
EOLWD, Boston Fed and CommCorp release findings from Reinventing Work Initiative
On October 16th, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston hosted an event with over 100 st akeholders to share the findings from the first phase of their work to understand the challenges and opportunities that exist for businesses to redesign jobs for low-wage or entry-level workers. This research, involving interviews and focus groups with more than 90 businesses across Massachusetts, was conducted in partnership with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and Commonwealth Corporation. Tiffany Ferguson, Sr. Community Development Analyst at the Boston Fed, also spoke about the initiative at the 10th Annual Jobs and Workforce Summit.

Federal Policy Updates
Trump Administration Proposes SNAP Rule, Could Affect 45% of MA SNAP Households

The Trump Administration has proposed a third rule that would reduce food assistance benefits. The Administration has now proposed a rule that would cut SNAP benefits by $4.5 billion over five years and that would reduce the SNAP monthly benefits for 19% of SNAP households. In Massachusetts, this could lose nearly 9% of its SNAP benefits, annually, which is over $100 million annually. The cut would result from changes in how states take households’ utility costs into account when determining their SNAP benefit amount. The entire MA Congressional Delegation submitted a joint letter opposing these changes. You can read the letter here.
Senate Committee Keeps WIOA Level Funded from FY19

In the first markup of the Senate Appropriations bill there was no increase or decrease in WIOA program funding from FY19. The full text to the proposed legislation including all Labor, Health, and Human Services funding here

These numbers are less than authorized levels in the final WIOA law and less than the funding levels coming out of the House of Representatives.

We will keep you updated as final numbers are negotiated in the budget process.
FY20 Budget: Continuing Resolution Passed

While Democrats and Republicans are still at odds over how to fund the federal government for FY2020, a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government until December 20th was passed by the House yesterday and is expected to be passed by the Senate and sent to the President today. The current CR expires tonight at midnight.

Congress still needs to either pass full year spending bills in the next four weeks or pass another CR by December 20th to avoid a shutdown. 
Higher Education Act Updates

Both the House and the Senate have been making progress on re-authorization for the Higher Education Act. Senator Lamar Alexander has released  a bill  that would amend the Higher Education Act to include issues that are important to him without a full re-authorization. Representative Bobby Scott has released a full HEA re-authorization bill found  here . Both bills propose to expand Pell Grants for short term programs and credentialing.  

Click here to read a recent article by Congresswoman Trahan (MA-3) detailing her priorities for the Higher Education Act. Congresswoman Trahan is the only member of the Massachusetts delegation that sits on the House Education and Labor Committee.
MWA Winter Member Meeting & Workshop
Join us on Thursday, December 12th at Salem State University for our MWA Winter Member Meeting and Workshop. We will come together after the December MWA Board Meeting for lunch and networking with colleagues. We'll hear remarks from Salem State University President and former state legislator, John D. Keenan. Finally, we will have the opportunity to learn about how to build relationships with our local legislators, engage board members and business leaders in effective advocacy, and integrate advocacy into our organizational goals through a workshop led by Stefanie Coxe of Nexus Werx.

Please note, if you are unable to attend, we invite you to offer the opportunity to join us to one of your staff. We look forward to seeing you there!
The 10th Annual Jobs and Workforce Summit was held on October 23rd. More than 200 workforce professionals, business and non-profit leaders gathered to celebrate 10 years of progress and look ahead to the priorities for the next decade. Stan Usovicz, MWA Board Chair, and Tonja Mettlach presented Donna Cupelo with the award for Verizon as one of the Employers of the Decade.
MWA's Pre-Summit Reception was a hit with Consul General of Ireland Laoise Moore speaking with us about the shared challenges and opportunities facing Ireland, Great Britain, the EU and Massachusetts. MWA members had a chance to network before the Jobs and Workforce Summit the following day.
MassHire Metro North Workforce Board Appoints Chris Albrizio-Lee as President and CEO
Congratulations to Chris Albrizio-Lee who is MassHire Metro North Workforce Board's new President. Chris has been the interim President and CEO since last summer and we're thrilled to continue to work with Chris in this capacity.

On his new role, Chris said, “I am thrilled to be continuing with the MNWB as its new President and CEO. I look forward to working with the staff, Board, and all of our partners to develop innovative solutions that address the workforce needs of job seekers and employers in our region.”

Janice Weekes, Director of the MassHire Central Region Career Centers, sworn in as member of MassHire State Workforce Board
Congratulations to Janice Weekes on her official swearing in ceremony with Governor Baker.

Janice is the MassHire Workforce System representative on the MassHire State Workforce Board, which among other things is charged with developing and submitting the state's WIOA State Plan. We're grateful for Janice's leadership on this board.
The National Skills Coalition recently released a report on defining quality non-degree credentials. We shared this report upon member request with the MWA Public Policy committee. The report makes several recommendations that may be of interest:
  • Invest in support services that allow workers with transportation, child care, and other barriers to participate in training
  • Expand career counseling resources at career centers
  • Produce and make available to workers and employers clear and understandable career pathway and credential information and outcomes
To read the report, click here , or to view a recent webinar they held on the findings, click here.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance, Economic Research Office, released its annual labor market information review. This report includes data for each of the 16 labor market areas in the Commonwealth, along with statewide data on the health of our economy and labor force. For more dynamic labor market tools, check out the data collected for the regional planning process here.

  • Information - The MA Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave is looking for opportunities to engage with businesses. If businesses in your region are interested in learning more about the new paid family and medical leave law and its roll-out, please contact Jess Muradian at EOLWD.

  • Funding Opportunity - The U.S. DOL is providing resources through the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) to support local areas in addressing the impact of this epidemic through support services and training opportunities. MDCS is asking MassHire Workforce Boards interested in participating to submit a response using their template (found here) by November 27, 2019. The issuance with more information can be found here.

  • Funding Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation has released requests for proposals for the Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program (due Friday, November 22nd) and the Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities (Due Monday, December, 2nd). For more information, go to their website, or for the issuance, go here. Note: Commonwealth Corporation plans to release another request for proposals in winter 2019-2020 to support partnerships to engage in the design of occupationally-focused training and placement programs for returning citizens.

  • Funding Opportunity - State funding is now available to offset the costs related to technical instruction for registered apprenticeships in expansion industries (including health care, manufacturing and IT). The goal is to increase RA in these industries and diversify the existing apprenticeship workforce. To learn more, read the issuance here.

  • Training Opportunity - There will be WIOA Title 1 Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth trainings offered by MDCS in Lowell (December 12), Worcester (March 13) and Springfield (June 12). For more information, you can find the issuance here or click here to register.

  • Conference: LearnLaunch is holding its 2020 Across Boundaries Conference on January 20-21, 2020. They will be sharing the cutting edge of learning and teaching with educators, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators from across pre-K to mature learner. To register and learn more, go here.

  • Technical Assistance Opportunity for Youth Apprenticeships - NAWB, Jobs for the Future and other partners have received funding from U.S. DOL to provide technical assistance and resources to support the development of new or existing apprenticeship programs for opportunity youth. A fact sheet about the initiative is here and the application for workforce boards to apply by November 25th is here.

  • DTA Regional WIOA Joint Partner Meetings for the Work Participant Program (WPP) - Joint partner regional meetings have been scheduled for Dept. of Transitional Assistance and MassHire Career Center staff for updates on the new WPP expansion program and other shared services. The final session is being held in Leominster on November 22nd. The issuance with links to register is here.

  • Building Quality RFPs for WIOA Youth Program Services Brief - provides key elements for building a quality RFP to support comprehensive services to youth in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program. As part of this RFP technical assistance, DOL shared WIOA State and Local Youth Program RFP Examples representing different approaches for acquiring providers of WIOA Youth program services and include general WIOA Youth program requests. These samples also focus on specific strategies or populations, such as career pathways, entrepreneurship, foster care, youth one-stop model, post-secondary education, pre-apprenticeship, and summer. 

  • NAWB Report on Reentry Workforce Development - Recently, the National Association of Workforce Boards released a report on the results from a survey of state and local workforce boards and the programs they are engaging in to provide training and employment services to formerly incarcerated individuals to help them succeed in the workforce. To learn more, read here.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor's Chief Information Officer to develop a new CareerInfo app to help job seekers access occupational outlook information, wages and other employment information. To learn more, read about the release here.

  • MassHire Cape Cod & Islands Workforce Board and Career Center are featured in this article as partners in the recent WCTF award to Cape Cod Tech for HVAC training.

  • MassHire Metro North Workforce Board held a Youth Employment Forum on October 9th where they released a research report by the UMass Donahue Institute detailing demographic, education and employment statistics of young people in the Metro North region ages 15-24. Click here to read the report.

  • Commonwealth Corporation released a report at the Boston Foundation during STEM Week in October. The report highlights statistics and demographics about the MA STEM workforce. To read more about the event, click here.

  • Hampden and Worcester Counties in Massachusetts will benefit from a recent grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor under the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant to serve workers recovering from opioid addiction and help train peer specialists who support those in recovery. To read the article in the Framingham Source, click here.

  • MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board Director Heather Boulger was featured in the Berkshire Eagle Executive Spotlight earlier this month. Read the article here.
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