This will be our last Workforce Connections in 2021. We wish you a healthy and happy Holiday Season!

Raija and Tonja
Massachusetts Workforce Association

In This Issue:
  • State and Federal Policy Updates: State ARPA Bills Head to Conference, New Apprenticeship Funding, Federal Infrastructure Bill, Policy Highlight, and UI & Economic Data
  • MWA Updates: November MWA Workforce Webinar Recap, BBJ Letter to the Editor, Racial Justice Resources, GBCC Future of Work Webinar, SpringfieldWORKS joins National Fund Network
  • Member Updates: Welcome New MassHire FHCC Exec. Director, MassHire Award Finalist Blog, Member Highlights, JVS Boston Job Quality Series, New Eversource/BHCC Training Program
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates now on our website!
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State Public Policy
State House
House and Senate Pass Bills to Spend ARPA and Surplus Funds

Over the past three weeks, the House and Senate have each passed legislation allocating over $3.8 billion in ARPA/FY21 surplus funds. Last week the two chambers appointed a conference committee to settle the differences between the two bills. While they had hoped to come to consensus before the Legislature started its holiday recess, the committee continues to meet with the possibility of passing a bill during an informal session. If not, the earliest the ARPA conferenced bill could be sent to the Governor's desk would be in January 2022.

You can view the final House bill here and the final Senate bill here. See our blog post for a recap of all the action that has taken place over the past month.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Apprenticeship Funding

On November 16th, in celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $2.7 million in new apprenticeship grant funding to 19 organizations to support expanded apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth. Congratulations to MWA members and grant recipients: MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board, MassHire North Shore Workforce Board, MassHire Merrimack Valley Workforce Board, MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center, MassHire Metro North Workforce Board/NAMC, and MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board.

Click here to read the press release and watch a video of the grant announcement.
New Feature: Highlighting Legislation Impacting Employers, Job Seekers, and the MA Workforce System

Each month, MWA will highlight state legislation of interest to the greater workforce development community. Our hope is that readers will not only learn more about pending legislation, but in some instances, be provided with actionable steps to take for those who want to support the proposal and/or learn more. We welcome input and suggestions on this new section of our newsletter. See below for this month's highlight:

H.1950/S.1208, An Act relative to wage transparency (Sponsored by Representative Cutler and Senator Jehlen)
This legislation is currently before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and received a hearing in June 2021. Forty-eight legislators have cosponsored and MWA's public policy committee voted to endorse this legislation earlier this fall.

Bill Summary: This legislation builds on a 2018 law aimed to help close the wage equity gap by not requiring job applicants to disclose prior salary histories. Proponents of this bill highlight how it would improve wage transparency, bring equity to the workplace, while also increasing job satisfaction and stopping qualified employees from leaving employment. 

To read the bill in its entirety click here.
October 2021 Unemployment Rate and Claims Data
On November 19th, the state released the unemployment rate for October 2021 and the revised rate for September. Massachusetts' rate increased from September to 5.3 percent, 0.7 of a percentage point above the national rate of 4.6 percent. The MA labor force participation rate was up 0.1 of a percentage point to 66 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from the prior year. The labor force increased by 5,600 from September. Since October 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Massachusetts gained 197,200 jobs. The largest over the year gains occurred in Leisure and Hospitality; Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; and Trade, Transportation and Utilities. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates will be released on 11/23 and the local press release can be found here.

Economic Update
The UMass Donahue Institute released the quarterly Benchmarks Bulletin at the end of October, showing slower state growth in Q3. Click here to read more.

The Economic Policy Institute updated its State Unemployment by Race & Ethnicity. Click here for the latest comparison data.

UI Claims Data
On 11/18 DUA released the initial claims for the month ending 11/13/2021. Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry.

Over the month, 26,435 individuals filed initial claims for regular unemployment assistance, a increase of 8,033 claims from the previous 4 weeks aggregated. The largest increases were in Health Care & Social Assistance, Construction, and Food & Accommodation.
  • Continued claims decreased 6,620 from the previous four weeks to 210,658.
  • PUA continued weeks decreased to 12,807; down 88,298 from the previous 4 weeks. There were 3 initial PUA claims filed. This program ended on 9/4/21.
  • PEUC continued weeks claimed decreased 1,508 from the previous 4 weeks to 1,644 claims, with 149 initial claims filed. This program ended on 9/4/21.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Signed into Law

On November 5th, the U.S. House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and it was signed by President Biden on November 15th. See here for a summary of the workforce training provisions prepared by the National Association of Workforce Boards. While the exact amounts are still in flux, Massachusetts should see more than $9 billion for job-creating infrastructure projects and clean energy improvements.

House Passes Build Back Better Act, Includes Funding for Workforce

Last week the U.S. House passed the Build Back Better Act. In addition to much needed funding for workforce development as included below, the Build Back Better Act will also (among other things): (1) establish free, universal pre-k and reduce child care costs for most families; (2) extend the child tax credit; (3) fund the construction and rehab of over a million affordable homes across the U.S.; (4) lower health care costs by expanding Medicare and cutting prescription drug costs; (5) create a surtax on individual income over $10 million and a minimum tax for the largest corporations; and (6) combat climate change through investment and reduction of CO2 emissions. You can read a fact sheet here and a Massachusetts specific fact sheet here.

As for workforce development, see here for a spreadsheet with funding levels, including a breakdown listed below. The total funding for workforce development is about $40 billion:

Department of Labor:
  • $4.5 billion over 5 years for WIOA Title 1
  • $2 billion for dislocated worker
  • $1 billion Adult
  • $1.5 billion for Youth
  • $500 million for Wagner Peyser
  • $500 million to aid adults reentering the workforce and for young adults not in school or in the criminal justice system who are entering the workforce for the first time
  • $1 billion for registered apprenticeship programs and pre-apprenticeship programs
  • $5 billion for industry/sector partnerships between workforce boards, employers, unions and others to expand workforce development in high-skill and in-demand sectors
  • $500 million for the Job Corps program
  • $50 million for Native American programs
  • $70 million for migrant and seasonal farmworkers
  • $15 million for YouthBuild
Department of Education
  • $700 million for WIOA Title II Adult Education
  • $700 million for Perkins CTE Grants
  • $5 billion to community colleges partnering with employers to expand their workforce development programs for in-demand sectors
  • $300 million for a new multiyear, state-administered grant program to aid employers participating in competitive integrated employment, designed to bring workers with disabilities up to the same wage and benefit levels as workers without disabilities
Civilian Climate Corps
  • $15+ billion to create climate-focused public service opportunities via AmeriCorps
  • $4+ billion would go to DOL programs to train workers for jobs in climate-related fields

Process wise, this Act still has to be passed by the Senate to become law. This legislation is not bipartisan so we do not expect the Senate to take this up until some time later in December. It is not yet clear how much of this bill might need to change in order for it to have enough votes to clear the Senate. MWA will keep you updated as developments emerge.
Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) has been a helpful tool for many organizations in retaining employees and covering payroll costs amid pandemic-related economic uncertainty. Initially authorized through the CARES Act to encourage nonprofit and for-profit businesses to keep employees on their payroll through 2020, ERTC was extended through the end of 2021 in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

In addition, last December Congress expanded the program to allow an applicant who had previously received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to also be eligible for ERTC. Organizations that have not yet done so are encouraged to review whether they are eligible for ERTC. Unless the program is ended earlier through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, organizations will be able to access ERTC until December 31, 2021. See here for more information.
November Workforce Webinar Recap: Supporting Substance Use Recovery Through Employment
On Tuesday, November 16th Rebecca Starr and Casey Tiefenwerth from Advocates for Human Potential shared the Access to Recovery employment model and their partnership with MassHire in Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester to support job seekers in recovery secure employment successfully.

Support for this program not only benefits the individual, but business as well, with over 75% of employers have been affected by employee opioid use, as 1 in 12 U.S. workers has an untreated addiction. Rebecca and Casey also shared their current work with employers to develop "recovery-ready" workplaces.

Join us for our December Workforce Webinar on Wednesday 12/15 at 3PM with Martha Oesch to learn how to Recharge Your Coaching - Core Coaching Strategies. Click here to register.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
MWA is following the conversation among the workforce development and related communities about how racism and white supremacy influence the field and practice of workforce development. We will continue to use this newsletter to share relevant tools, articles, webinars and resources to support the workforce development community.
National Fund for Workforce Solutions Network Expands to Springfield, MA
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions welcomes Springfield WORKS into its network of regional workforce collaboratives. Springfield WORKS aims to remove obstacles that prevent employers from finding the workers they need, and job seekers from finding secure employment with livable wages.

Click here to read more about the new partnership.
On October 28th, the Boston Business Journal published an editorial, following a lengthier article, calling for greater transparency and accountability for the workforce training programs, such at the Career Technical Initiative and Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. MWA and the Workforce Solutions Group responded with a Letter to the Editor to offer more context to some of the concerns about outcomes that the BBJ raised. Click here to read our response.
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is holding another webinar in its Future of Work series on Tuesday, December 7th from 10AM - 11AM. The focus of this session will be on Designing a Sustainable Hybrid Workforce and Workplace. Speakers include representatives from Ocean Spray, Accenture, Fidelity Investments, and Proverb.

Click here to learn more and register.
MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center Welcomes New Executive Director, Maura Geary
Welcome to Maura Geary, the new FHETC/MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center Executive Director! Maura will begin her work on Thursday, December 9, 2021. 

Maura comes from the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board where she has been the Director of Project Management and Partnership Development since 2008, bringing full knowledge and many years of experience in the Massachusetts Workforce System, as well as the Pioneer Valley workforce region. Maura is a also a resident of the Franklin Hampshire workforce area. 

MWA also thanks outgoing Executive Director, Teri Anderson, for her years of commitment and service to the MassHire Franklin-Hampshire region and the workforce system across the state. We wish her all the very best in her retirement!
Eversource Partners with Bunker Hill Community College on Electric Power Utility Technology Program
The Electric Power Utility Technology Program (EPUT) prepares students for a skilled craft position with Eversource. Students attend Bunker Hill Community College to earn an Associate of Science Degree in Electronic Technology and a Certificate in Natural Gas Technology and gain hands-on experience by participating in a Co-op (subject to COVID-19 rules and regulations) with Eversource Energy.

It is a two-year program, beginning Fall 2022. Upon successful completion, students earn their degrees in Spring 2024 and receive an interview for a full-time role at Eversource. There is a 95% placement rate for students who successfully complete the program for Full time positions with Eversource. This program is in partnership with Local 369 Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and Local 12004 United Steel Workers Union.

Information sessions begin on November 29, 2021 at 5:00pm! Click here to register for an upcoming session.
The MassHire Metro North Workforce Board has started a newsletter for its new initiative Work to Thrive. The first issue can be found here. The initiative focuses on addressing employment barriers for those who are not connected to state or federal workforce development programs.

Click here to sign up for the newsletter.
The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) has changed the vendor who will provide CNA testing services and certification renewal in Massachusetts. American Red Cross will no longer be providing these services as of October 31, 2021. Prometric, the new vendor, will begin offering these services as of mid-December. Click here for the issuance describing the transition and here for a memo from DPH.
JVS Boston, operator of the MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center, held a great event on November 8th on Job Quality. Following the webinar, they held a ten day virtual job quality challenge, where each day participants were e-mailed resources and learning prompts to advance their understanding of why job quality is so important, especially in our current labor market.

Click here for the webinar recording. Click here to view each day of the challenge and related resources.

Click here for an Employer Toolkit Developed by the Cincinnati Women's Fund.

Click here for a Pay Analysis Tool developed by The Good Jobs Institute, and here for their financial case methodology.
2021 MassHire Day Award Finalists for Living MassHire Category Exemplify the Very Best of the State's Public Workforce System

The finalists in the Living MassHire category of the 2021 MassHire Awards are true examples of the mission-driven staff and teams that work everyday across the public workforce system in Massachusetts. Click here to read the blog post featuring the great work of Eric Nelson of the MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Center, Dan Rhayne of the MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center, and the team at the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board including Steve Trueman, Melissa Scibelli, Tina Enfantis, Tiffany Munford, Joanne Lyons, and Amanda Mantilla.

You can read about the other finalists in these blog posts:

Follow our blog for our final post highlighting those recognized for Ingenuity!
There are so many job postings and funding announcements, we moved our News from Around the Sector section to our website, where you can access the news, jobs, funding announcements and more anytime throughout the month. Go to:

Here's just a sample of some of the jobs available right now:
  • The MassHire Central Career Center is hiring an Access to Recovery Program Facilitator. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Boston Medical Center is hiring a Career Counselor that lies at the intersection of workforce development, health care, and refugee services. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • The WorkPlace is hiring a Career Center Systems Director for the MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center. Click here to read the job description and apply.
  • Advocates for Human Potential and the Access to Recovery program is hiring a Workforce Job Developer. Experience in Workforce Development preferred. Click here to learn more and apply.
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