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: Reopening, New Child Care Voucher and Internet Access programs,
  • MWA Updates: May Workforce Webinar Recap, MASSCAP Event Recap, NYATEP Cannabis Industry Webinar, Workforce 101 and AVTE Briefings, Racial Justice Resources
  • Member Updates: NEWN Conference, MassHire CIWB Teacher Appreciation, MassHire Central Accolades, MassHire Boston Launches Summer Jobs Employer Recruitment
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates now on our website!
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State Public Policy
State House
MA Senate Passes FY2022 Budget

Yesterday the Senate unanimously passed a $47.7 billion budget over three days of debate. The budget would increase spending by almost $1.3 billion over FY21 and Senators added $63.7 million in amendments. The final Senate budget also has many fiscal and policy differences from the House, including proposed changes to the state's film tax credit and new fees on Uber and Lyft.

Both the House and Senate budgets do not use any of the $5.3 billion in federal dollars the state is receiving under the American Rescue Plan. Both chambers have indicated they will allocate those funds through a separate spending plan in the spring/summer.

The final Senate budget makes important investments in various workforce programs. MWA extends a special thank you to the Senate President, Chairman Rodrigues, Senator Comerford, and Chairwoman Jehlen for their leadership and support of workforce development in this budget. You can view the final Senate budget here. A few highlights from the budget include:

  • Career Centers: $7.5M
  • YouthWorks: $23M
  • Connecting Activities: $7M
  • WCTF: $10M
  • Learn to Earn: $300K
  • Re-entry: $2.5M
  • Manufacturing: $2.5M
  • Apprenticeships: $500K
  • Career Technical Institutes (CTI): $6M

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 conference with the House. A final budget must be passed by July 1st or an interim budget will be necessary. MWA is working on a letter to send to the conference committee advocating for the higher workforce line items from the House and Senate budgets.
Reopening Updates

Earlier this month, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that it was moving up a full reopening of the state and ending the state of emergency in June. See below for upcoming important dates:

  • May 29th: .All industries will be permitted to open with no gathering limitations. Industries are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and hygiene protocol and masks will only be required on public and private transportation systems and in facilities housing vulnerable populations.
  • June 15th: State of Emergency order is lifted. The Department of Unemployment Assistance ends waiver of work search requirement. Click here for more on restarting the work search requirement.

Click here for additional details on reopening. Click here for general business guidance including health and safety posters and control plans.
Child Care Vouchers Now Available for Unemployed Parents While Seeking Jobs, Training or Education

Before COVID, to get a child care voucher, low-income parents had to have a job or be in an education or a training program. Now, you can get a child care voucher for up to 6 months while you look for a job, education, or training. Click here to learn more about the program.

Mass Internet Connect Program Changes with Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit

In December 2020, the federal government appropriated $3.2 billion to establish and Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to help Americans afford internet service during the pandemic. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using the fund to establish the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB), under which low-income households may received a discount off the cost of broadband service and certain connected devices. Click here to read more about the program and how it will work with the state's MIC program.
Governor Baker Files Legislation to Extend Some COVID-19 Measures
On May 25th, Governor Baker filed legislation aimed at keeping some pandemic-era policies in place once the state of emergency is lifted next month. Click here to read the press release. This legislation includes a host of polices such as remote public meetings, outdoor dining, and keeping a ban on medical providers from billing patients for COVID-related care above the costs paid by insurers. All these polices are tied to various executive orders over the past 15 months.

Click here for a full list of executive orders and guidance tied to the state of emergency. The Governor prepared this list for the Legislature as the House and Senate decide what policies they might want to keep in place after the state of emergency ends.
April 2021 Unemployment Rate and Claims Data, Economic Updates
On 5/21, the state released the unemployment rate for April 2021. Massachusetts saw its seasonally adjusted rate decline 0.2 percentage points to 6.5 percent from the revised March rate of 6.7 percent, still higher than the U.S. rate of 6.1 percent.

The MA labor force participation rate, 66.4 percent, is up 6.0 percentage points from the prior year. The labor force increased by 1,900 from March. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates were released on 5/25 and the local press release can be found here.

UI Claims Data
Last week DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 5/15/2021 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. Claims across all programs are declining, and the Governor announced last week that the work search waiver will end on June 15th, along with the state of emergency ending.
  • Continued claims for the week ending 5/15 decreased to 79,943, the lowest level since mid-March 2020.
  • Since April 20, 2020, more than 971K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 20, 2020, more than 226K people filed claims for continued weeks under PEUC, declining 435 from the previous week.
  • As of April 17th, there were 2,899 claims for continued weeks for federal/state Extended Benefits (EB).

Unemployment Benefit Determination Calculator
As the economy reopens, many unemployed workers may be trying to figure out how to access training or education, or look for work while still accessing benefits. DUA has developed an online calculator to help individuals make the best decision for them. Click here to access the calculator.

MassBenchmarks Notes from the Board
Last week, The UMass Donahue Institute released the MassBenchmarks Notes from the Board. Economic indicators show signs of strong progress toward economic recovery, but the big question is, recovery for whom? Women, young adults, and people of color suffered job losses at disproportionate rates and recovery for them, given disparities in vaccination rates, access to child care, etc. will effect how widespread any economic recovery is felt. Click here to read more.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
Updates from D.C.

President Biden Announces Additional Steps to Help Americans Return to Work
The Biden-Harris Administration announced steps to remove barriers that are preventing Americans from returning to good-paying jobs and help make it easier for employers to hire new workers. You can read additional details here.

Executive Order: Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment
President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. The Task Force will be chaired by Vice-President Harris and Vice-Chaired by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. You can read more details of the executive order here.
May Workforce Webinar Recap: Supporting Jobseekers with Disabilities During and After the Pandemic
On May 18th MWA welcomed Colleen Moran from Mass General Brigham, Joan Phillips from the Mass Rehabilitation Commission, Winnie Siano from Work Without Limits and Richard Berrena from MassHire Springfield Career Center to share their experiences supporting individuals with disabilities who were working or seeking employment throughout the pandemic. COVID-19 did not solely present challenges in this work; in some cases it offered new opportunities for remote work, easier access to jobs that would otherwise be difficult to reach by transportation, and normalizing new ways of communicating and offering virtual services for these customers. Nearly 40 participants on the webinar heard about how virtual job fairs led to more opportunities for businesses and these workers to connect. Trainings that in the past would be limited to a particular location were now accessible remotely to customers around the state. Although the digital divide continues to be a challenge, this period led to new opportunities to connect customers who didn't previously have access to the technology to participate in remote services or work.

We're taking a break for June, so save the date for our next Workforce Webinar, July 20th at 3PM with General Assembly. More information to come!
MWA and MASSCAP Event Recap: Strengthening Community Action and Workforce Development Partnerships
MWA and MASSCAP co-hosted a follow-up event on May 11th to the November program which convened Community Action and Workforce Development network representatives. At this follow-up event, attendees deepened their discussions around strategies to address jobseeker and family needs 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, joined to offer updates on current funding opportunities and programs. Participants were broken out by region to discuss local partnership development and needs. One outcome is a new joint task force where volunteers from MWA and MASSCAP membership will represent various regions and will share ideas, follow up on suggestions, develop and implement activities that support our collaboration as well as address statewide challenges.
Workforce 101 State House Briefing Recap

On May 20th, MWA, with the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, hosted a briefing for more than 50 state legislators and their staff. The briefing included MWA members from the MassHire System, Neil Sullivan, David Gadaire and Shannon Norton, who described the myriad ways that the state's workforce system has been and continues to support businesses and jobseekers. Both Lorie Spencer from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Doug Chabinsky, a mature long-term unemployed jobseeker in the Lowell region, offered their personal experiences working with their local MassHire Career Centers. In addition to finding talent and a great job, respectively, they both emphasized the suite of services, strong relationships and success they had in partnership with MassHire staff. We thank Senator Pat Jehlen and Representative Josh Cutler and their staffs for hosting this briefing with us and supporting the workforce system in the budget process.
Alliance for Vocational Technical Education holds Virtual Advocacy Day
AVTE, the statewide coalition of business, education, workforce development and non-profit advocates for career and technical education (CTE), welcomed a large group of legislators to a virtual advocacy day, where they highlighted the importance of several bills focusing on expanding access to quality CTE for students and adults seeking retraining opportunities.

Click here to watch a video highlighting an announcement about the new Career Technical Initiative (CTI), a workforce priority of AVTE and MWA.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
MWA Executive Director Tonja Mettlach Joins NYATEP National Panel Conversation about Cannabis Industry and Labor Market Challenges and Opportunities
MWA's Executive Director, Tonja Mettlach, joined state workforce association colleagues from California and Colorado to share their state's experiences with legalizing the cannabis industry with New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP). NY recently legalized the cannabis industry and its workforce development system was eager to learn about the challenges and opportunities other states had encountered in doing the same.
MassHire MWA Members Represented at New England Workforce Network (NEWN) Conference
MWA members were well represented at the virtual 2021 New England Workforce Network Conference. Kara Galvin of MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board, Larry Martin of MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board and Bruce Mendelsohn of MassHire Central Region Workforce Board were all featured panelists or partners in presentations. Topics included strategic partnership development, pivoting to virtual service delivery during the pandemic, manufacturing training programs, and more. Click here to download copies of presentations from the conference. MWA was also a proud sponsor of the event.
MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board Hosts Local Educators at Professional Development Workshop During Teacher Appreciation Week

On May 5th, the MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board were thrilled to invite an assortment of educators, administrators, school personnel, and high school seniors participating in the High School Senior Internship in Education Program to attend a Professional Development Workshop featuring Kim Bearden during Teacher Appreciation Week. The CIWB is grateful for their strong collaborative efforts with our educators and administrators, and appreciate their extraordinary efforts despite the challenges they have faced brought on by the pandemic. Their support is key to success of the Connecting Activities Program. To read more about Kim and the event, click here.
MassHire Central Region Staff Recognized for Outstanding Work
Congratulations to Kelsey Lamoureux, Executive Director of the Worcester Jobs Fund (WJF) (center L, with floral bouquet). Kelsey was recently awarded a Key to the City in recognition of her outstanding work engaging participants, employers, and community partners. As the WJF's first full-time Executive Director, Kelsey established and grew many of the programs that have helped hundreds of people access living wage jobs through our regional Career Centers.

Additionally, Jibrael Younis of the MassHire Central Region Career Centers is a finalist for this year's Mass Nonprofit Network Excellence by a Young Professional award. This year's ceremony will be held virtually on June 23rd at 10AM. Click here to learn more about the awards and to register. We wish Jibrael the best of luck!

Want more good news? Click here for success stories from MassHire Central Region WIOA Youth participants.
MassHire Boston Workforce Board/Boston PIC and City of Boston Office of Workforce Development Launch Summer Jobs Employer Recruitment
The Boston PIC and OWD Boston kicked off the 2021 youth summer jobs program on May 17th, with Mayor Kim Janey, Superintendent Brenda Casselius, and several employers who have participated in previous summer job programs, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. They made their annual call to employers to participate in this year's summer jobs program. Click here to watch the video.
We moved our News from Around the Sector section to our website, where you can access the news, jobs, funding announcements and more throughout the month. Go to:
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