The Governor’s Workforce Agenda
In less than a decade, Virginia will need to replace over 930,000 retiring workers and will create another 500,000 new jobs. About 50 to 65% of those jobs will be specialized and skilled jobs at the technician level. These jobs require more than a high school diploma but less than a baccalaureate degree, and are accessible with the right industry certifications, licenses, apprentice credentials or postsecondary level occupational certificates. Private sector employers are looking to Virginia’s publicly funded workforce system to meet the current and future “skills gaps” between industry demand for workers with competencies to fill these jobs, and the supply of workers with the right competencies and credentials to successfully compete for these jobs.
In August 2014, with the signing of Executive Order 23, Governor McAuliffe made dramatically increasing the number of Virginians attaining workforce credentials the top priority for Virginia’s publicly funded workforce system, comprised of 15 local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and 24 state programs administered by eight state agencies that serve about a million Virginians each year, from middle school to retirement age. Achieving the Governor’s goal of Virginians attaining 50,000 more workforce credentials in his administration was the focus of the Governor’s Workforce Agenda for the General Assembly in 2015.
The Governor’s workforce legislative and budget package for this General Assembly will improve the workforce system’s capacity to deliver workforce credentials to compete by reducing administrative costs and replication and duplication between programs, redirecting currently available, federal funds to education and training for credentials, and providing new state funds for student financial aid for non-credit certification training as well as new competitive grants for business driven workforce training solutions to meet regional workforce needs in key industry sectors for economic development.
Below is a review of Governor’s Workforce Bills that passed the General Assembly and now await the Governor’s signature.
HB 1986 (Byron) and SB 1372 (Ruff):
HB 1986 and SB 1372 position Virginia’s Workforce System to deliver 50,000 new workforce credentials. The bills repurpose nearly $4.5 million in available federal funds to regional education and training programs for credentials to compete in the 21st century workforce. Using available, state level federal funds, the bills also establish the workforce system’s first pay for performance program, rewarding regions for meeting workforce credential attainment goals. The bills require regions to designate a regional workforce convener. The bill provides common metrics and reporting accountability so that all 24 publicly funded programs in Virginia’s workforce system are striving towards goals--like workforce credentials, job placement, and return on investment of taxpayer dollars--that support economic development and business needs.
The new federal Workforce Innovations and Opportunities Act (WIOA) provides the Commonwealth an unprecedented opportunity to produce a single, combined state plan for Virginia’s federally funded workforce programs with a combined annual budget of $218 million. HB 1986 and SB 1372 require the Commonwealth to develop such a combined plan, as opposed to each workforce program submitting a separate application for federal funding. The bills continue shaping the Virginia Board of Workforce Development to be business-driven, streamlined, and strategic.
HB 1822 (Ward) and SB 1024 (Alexander)
The Governor seeks to dramatically increase the number of apprentices in Virginia by the end of his administration. Registered apprenticeships offer job seekers immediate employment opportunities, at higher than average wages, while also providing skills development and credentials. These identical bills will increase apprenticeships by transferring administrative responsibilities for the program from two agencies to one: the Department of Labor and Industry. This will provide businesses with a single point of contact, expedite the process through which businesses establish an apprentice program, and save $400,000 annually in administrative costs. Businesses will continue to select their choice of training provider for their apprentices.
HB 2354 (Yancey) and SB 1335 (Cosgrove)
These identical bills will expedite attainment of a postsecondary education credential by veterans by requiring the State Board for Community Colleges to adopt a policy for the award of academic credit to any student enrolled at a community college who has successfully completed a military training course or program that is applicable to the student's certificate or degree requirements and recommended for academic credit by a national higher education association that provides such recommendations for military training courses or programs.
Workforce Budget Items
Veterans Employment Grant Fund
The Budget Conference Report includes language to accomplish the aim of two Governor’s bills by establishing a $500,000 grant program to create employment for veterans by providing businesses with 300 or fewer employees with a $1,000 incentive for each veteran hired by that employer. Incentives for hiring veterans are contingent upon the veteran being separated from military service a year or less, continuously employed by the business for at least one year, and paid the prevailing wage of the jurisdiction in which the job is located. Businesses may claim an incentive for each veteran hired up to a total of ten veterans or $10,000.
Student Financial Aid for Non-Credit Certification Training
The Governor’s proposed budget amendments included $1 million for the state’s first financial aid program for students in non-credit community college programs targeted to attainment of an industry driven certification. The Budget Conference Report added additional funds to that request, and proposes $1,075,000 for additional financial aid for community colleges. Those funds will support pilot financial aid programs for certification training at six colleges.
Competitive Grants to Regions
for Business-Led Workforce Solution
In Spring 2015, the Governor’s Office will release a RFP for regional competitive grants to business-driven consortia to develop and expand workforce solutions such as sector strategies, career pathways, apprenticeships and incumbent workforce training. A private sector match will be required of successful grant applicants.