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: New Committee Assignments, Business Supports, Economic Update
  • MWA Updates: Job Quality Webinar Recap, March Events, Anti-Racism Resources
  • Member Updates: Career Technical Initiative and Learn to Earn award announcements, Highlights from MassHire Berkshire, Central Region, and Franklin Hampshire
  • News From Around the Sector - Jobs, Funding, Research, Training, and more
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State Public Policy
State House
House and Senate Announce Committee and Leadership Assignments for 2021/2022:

Last week the Speaker of the House and the Senate President announced leadership and committee assignments for the 2021/2022 legislative session. See here for all committee assignments and here for the full leadership teams. Of importance, and for the first time in its history, the House has its first female majority leader, Claire D. Cronin of Easton. Included below are assignments of interest to workforce professionals:

Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
  • House Chair: Representative Josh S. Cutler (6th Plymouth)
  • Senate Chair: Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (2nd Middlesex)

Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies
  • House Chair: Representative Jerald Parisella (6th Essex)
  • Senate Chair: Senator Eric P. Lesser (1st Hampden and Hampshire)

Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion
  • House Chair: Representative Bud L. Williams (11th Hampden)
  • Senate Chair: Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (2nd Suffolk)

House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means
  • House Chair: Representative Aaron Michlewitz (3rd Suffolk)
  • Senate Chair: Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (1st Bristol and Plymouth)

Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion
  • House Chair: Representative Bud L. Williams (11th Hampden)
  • Senate Chair: Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (2nd Suffolk)

Senate Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts Post-Pandemic Resiliency
  • Senate Chair: Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden)
  • Senate Vice-Chair: Senator Jason M. Lewis (5th Middlesex)
New Executive Order to Assist Military Families

On February 17th the Baker-Polito Administration signed an executive order to make it easier for military personnel and their spouses to continue civilian careers when they are transferred to Massachusetts.

The order directs the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) to investigate opportunities to participate in one or more interstate compacts, a vehicle for simplifying and improving licensing for professionals moving between states. DPL is also directed to ensure that each covered board has procedures to expedite and afford priority to the licensing of military personnel and spouses. Click here to read the executive order and learn more.
Power Forward Small Business Grant program

Vistaprint and the Boston Celtics have teamed up with the NAACP to award transformative grants of $25,000 to Black-owned small businesses across New England. Grant recipients will have opportunities to be featured on national co-branded platforms along with receiving marketing and design resources customized to their specific needs to help their business grow and thrive.

Qualified applicants must be Black-owned small businesses with 1 to 25 employees and be based in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, or select areas of Connecticut. Click here to learn more and apply.
February 2021 Economic Updates
The preliminary January 2021 and revised 2020 unemployment rate, labor force and job estimates for Massachusetts will be released on Friday, March 12, 2021. See the 2021 Media Advisory for complete list of release dates.

Earlier this month, the Editorial Board of MassBenchmarks released their quarterly Notes from the Board. In it, the board of economists highlighted managing the public health crisis and effective distribution of vaccines as the first priorities for an economic recovery. They also emphasized the need for government investment in adult education, vocational training, and infrastructure to stimulate job growth and limit "labor market scarring" for those who have experienced long term unemployment due to the crisis. Additionally, they urge targeted investment in communities and populations that have been hit disproportionally physically and economically by the pandemic. At the end of January, MassBenchmarks released their quarterly Benchmarks Bulletin for Q4 of 2020, including a cautiously optimistic outlook for the first two quarters of 2021.

UI Claims Data
Last week DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 2/13/2020 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.
  • Since March 15th, 1.9M initial claims for unemployment have been filed in Massachusetts.
  • Continued claims for the week ending 2/13 were down from the previous week at 154,216.
  • Since April 20th, more than 937K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 21st, more than 406K people filed for PEUC.

The Tufts University Tisch College of Public Life released a report with suggestions on how to improve the Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance System. Click here to read more and download the report.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
President Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package to be Advanced by the House

On Monday, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Congressman Neal, advanced the President's $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation. The full House is expected to vote on the legislation later this week.

The bill, which the President has been urging Congress to pass, includes a third round of stimulus payments, extended and increased UI payments, paid sick leave expansion, a $15 minimum wage, and additional funds for vaccine distribution, testing, and state and local aid. Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation as passed by the House.

This legislation, unfortunately, does not include funding for workforce. However, in various meetings with Congressional staff, we have been told that Congress will include workforce funding in its next "recovery" bill. We know that these funds are greatly needed and will continue to make the case for investing now.
Legislation Reintroduced to Invest in the Workforce System

Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott (D VA-3) along with Representatives Andy Levin (D MI-9), Suzanne Bonamici (D OR-1) and co-led in the Senate by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA have reintroduced the Relaunching America's Workforce Act (RAWA). This much needed legislation would invest $15 billion into the workforce system. A section by section summary of the bill can be found here.

RAWA would provide both immediate and long term supports to the workforce system by increasing flexibility and funding for training, supportive services, and career services.

MWA will keep you updated as this legislation progresses and we work with partners on advocacy alerts and coordinated action steps.
The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021

Earlier this month the House passed the "National Apprenticeship Act of 2021". Click on the following links for a fact sheetsection by section summary, and bill text. Traditionally apprenticeship has been a bipartisan issue so we expect the Senate to take up this legislation at a later date.

Congresswoman Pressley Pushing for Federal Jobs Guarantee

Last week, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined economists and advocates to introduce a resolution calling for a federal job guarantee.

The Resolution calls for the creation of federal jobs that meet long-neglected community, physical and human infrastructure needs, such as delivering quality care for children and seniors, building and sustaining 21st century transit systems, strengthening neighborhoods, and protecting the environment. Click below to read the full text and a summary of the resolution.
SBA to Prioritize Smallest of Small Businesses in PPP
The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced additional steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote equitable relief for small businesses by:
  • Establishing a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees;
  • Allowing sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants;
  • Eliminating an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal;
  • Eliminating PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
  • Ensuring access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.

Those who qualify can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program by downloading the First Draw PPP loan application or Second Draw PPP loan application and working with a participating PPP lender through the SBA Lender Match tool.
February Workforce Webinar Recap: Building Good Jobs with the Workforce System
On February 16th MWA welcomed Janice Urbanik, Senior Director for Innovation and Strategy at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS); Brooke Valle, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at the San Diego Workforce Partnership; Maddrey Goode, Executive Director of the MassHire Boston Career Center; and Sheila Sullivan-Jardim, Executive Director of the MassHire Greater Brockton Workforce Board to share concrete examples of how their organizations are working to improve access to good jobs for workers. Click here to read more on our blog, including links to resources.

Related, the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program is conducting a survey on Job Quality in Practice and welcomes responses from workforce development practitioners and organizations. Click here to learn more and here to take the survey.

Our next Workforce Webinar: Helping Businesses Plan for the Future through Employee Ownership with the ICAGroup/Center for Employee Ownership is scheduled for 3/16 at 3PM. Click here to register.
MWA's March Calendar of Events

We hope to see you "virtually" at one of the events below!
Questions? Reach out to Raija.

  • 3.1: Workforce Board Council (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.9: MWA Membership Committee (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.10: Career Center Council (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.16: MWA Public Policy Committee (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.16: Workforce Webinar: Helping Businesses Plan for the Future through Employee Ownership, with the ICA Group/MA Center for Employee Ownership (Click here to register)
  • 3.19: MWA Finance Committee (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.19: MWA Friday Trivia! (MWA Member Only)
  • 3.23: MWA Board of Directors Meeting
  • 3.24: Career Center Council (MWA Member Only)

Are you interested in becoming a member of MWA? Click here to learn more about the benefits to membership and contact us to learn more.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
2021 MassHire Awards Nomination Deadline Extended to Feb. 26th!

The 2021 MassHire Awards are in support of the MassHire brand, mission and vision. Awards will confer monetary prizes for MassHire organizations across five categories for exceptional innovations in workforce service delivery. Nominations have been extended to February 26, 2021. Click here for the issuance and here for the nomination package.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Career Technical Initiative and Learn to Earn Grant Awards
This month, the Baker-Polito Administration announced grant awards for two key workforce programs. The first, the Career Technical Initiative (CTI), awarded $1.3M to train 256 people for in-demand jobs across 21 career pathways at 8 vocational technical schools across the state: Greater Lawrence, Minuteman, Montachusett, Nashoba Valley, Southeastern, Greater Fall River, Essex North Shore Agricultural, and Whittier. The state-funded CTI Program is an initiative of Governor Baker's Workforce Skills Cabinet to up-skill students, as well as adults, for careers in high-demand and high-growth sectors, with an emphasis on creating pathways for people from underserved populations and underrepresented groups to access training. MassHire Workforce Boards and Career Centers in Boston, Bristol, Brockton, Lowell, Merrimack Valley, Metro North, Metro South/West, North Central and North Shore regions are all key partners. Click here to read the press release for CTI.

Additionally, the Learn to Earn (LTE) initiative awarded three grants to partnerships in Boston, Holyoke and Worcester to design career pathway programs that aim to promote financial stability for unemployed or underemployed adults. Learn to Earn, managed by Commonwealth Corporation, seeks to support individuals who are receiving assistance from public benefit programs in gaining and retaining employment in occupations for which employers have persistent demand. Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester, JRI/STRIVE Boston, and Holyoke Community College are the lead awardees, all offering training to prepare jobseekers for in-demand careers in health care and social assistance. Local MassHire Career Centers and Workforce Boards are key partners in these programs, as well. Click here to read the press release for Learn to Earn.
MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board Continues CNA Training Despite Pandemic

MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board has seen success supporting participants in their CNA training program, funded by the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF). With strong demand for CNA's during the pandemic, the program has adjusted to a hybrid online/in-person training model. Twenty-two participants have successfully completed the training, with more cohorts set to begin in both daytime and hybrid learning options.
MassHire Central Region Supports New Polar Park and WooSox with Virtual Job Fair

On February 20th and 21st, MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and Career Center held virtual job fairs for the Worcester Red Sox (or WooSox). The team is hiring more than 300 part-time positions including ushers, ticket takers, concessions and more. Staff from the WooSox, Polar Park, and the City’s Economic Development team are engaging the City’s diverse communities, partnering with local businesses and offering employment and internship opportunities.
MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board Shares Customer Appreciation Testimonial

Staff across the MassHire system work with jobseekers every day to help them succeed in their job searches, education, training and career growth goals. Andrew Baker of the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board shares the ups and downs of working with a customer taking part in a 12 week CNC Operator training program, and the great reward when success is reached: a job offer with a good wage.

Click here to read more.
  • Job Opportunity - MassHire North Shore Workforce Board is hiring a Career Center Executive Director. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - The MassHire Boston Workforce Board/Boston PIC is hiring an Employment and Training Specialist to work with young adults and opportunity youth. Click here for the job description and contact Cameron Mendes-Moreau if interested in applying.

  • Job Opportunity - The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center HR Workforce Development Team is hiring a Program Coordinator. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - The MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board is hiring an Administrative Assistant. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - The MA Association of Community Colleges is looking for an Executive Director and a Workforce Development Director. Click here to learn more about the Executive Director position and apply. Click here to learn more about the Workforce Development Director position and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring for several positions: Career Development and Virtual Learning Coordinator, a Program Manager for Sector Strategies, and a Salesforce Nonprofit Consultant. Click here to view the postings and to apply.

  • Funding Opportunity - The Federal Aviation Administration is accepting applications for funding to (A) create and deliver curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful aviation education that is designed to prepare the students to become aircraft pilots, aerospace engineers, or unmanned aircraft systems operators; or (B) to support the professional development of teachers using the curriculum described in (A). Deadline to apply is March 22nd. Click here to learn more.

  • Funding Opportunity - The MA Department of Higher Education (DHE) is planning to award up to a total of $250K in grants for their Bridges to College Program. Grant funds shall be awarded competitively to adult basic education providers, including but not limited to local agencies, community-based organizations, community colleges and correctional facilities. Candidate organizations must have demonstrated success in bridging academic gaps of underserved populations resulting in college entrance, retention and completion, aligned with student workforce and career interests. Proposals are due March 1 by noon. Click here to learn more and here to apply.

  • Funding Opportunity - The Department of Transportation/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is offering funding for a motor vehicle safety training program and to support CDL program implementation. Click here to learn more and here for attachments.

  • Webinar - TODAY 2/24 - Strada Education Network is holding a webinar in their Public Viewpoint Series: How to Help Americans Get Back to Work, 2-3PM. Click here to register.

  • Life Sciences Apprenticeship Program - MassBioEd has announced its Life Sciences Apprenticeship Program. Click here to learn more.

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