Act 189 Implementation Update

Last year the Vermont Legislature passed H.919 (Act 189). This bill, which Campaign for Vermont (CFV) supported, is a comprehensive workforce development bill that addresses increasing our labor force through a variety of methods. It supports further integration of Career Technical Education (CTE) for both students and adults; it works to align our educational offerings with the demands of a modern workforce; it looks to better coordinate efforts of existing programs; it prioritizes the creation of a workforce that is accessible to all Vermonters. 

The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) and the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) spent time between sessions implementing much of what was called for with Act 189. In January they released their implementation report. You can read the entire document here.

While credit is due for the work that has been accomplished, and much has been done, it is too early to determine specific outcomes of these efforts. Much of what has been done is the creation of groups, committees, or plans to explore explicit actions. With the exception of the newly created Returnship Program, much is still in progress and few concrete steps have been taken. Until plans are executed and tangible programs are affected, we cannot measure the impact this legislation, and the effort of those charged with implementing it, has had on our workforce. 

Below is a summary of some of the accomplishments listed in the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) and the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) report.

  • Approved plan to offer regional, day-long workforce development summits tailored to the specific needs and resources of the region in which the summit is being offered. The goal of these summits will be to provide employers with state and localized tools & information about how and where to access workforce resources.

  • Working to plan, organize, promote, and support a State Workforce Summit in Burlington for spring 2019.

  • Establishing universal workforce system performance measures that public and private stakeholders can look to in evaluating how well Vermont is meeting its labor force education, training, and employment needs.

  • The SWDB has continued to develop and populate an online tool that visually depicts connections between individuals and organizations in the workforce development system.

  • Exploring several strategies such as sharing employer-outreach positions between agencies; better coordination of services to and for employers; creating a One-Stop Job Center in Rutland; and scaling middle-and high-school career readiness pilot programs.

  • Participated in a New England-based initiative that is designing and promoting a Whole Family approach to employment.

  • Created a Career Pathways Committee charged with reviewing and approving efforts for improving employment outcomes, meeting employers’ and workers’ needs, and leveraging available State and federal funding.

  • Agency of Education (AOE) established methods to request and process proposals that will identify “novel ways of integrating funding for CTE and general education and new governance structures for regional CTE, centers, including unified governance structures between regional CTE centers and high schools, or both.”

  • Coordinated numerous projects, meetings, and activities for CTE directors, staff, and instructors that related to the operation and future of both secondary and postsecondary CTE. The goal of these is to develop a unifying strategic plan that clearly articulates the role of CTE in Vermont’s education and workforce development systems. Data was collected from 1,472 respondents completing a 50-question online survey, and the direct participation of 165 CTE Students and 43 CTE instructors.

  • Created a Training and Credentialing Work Group which will inform the membership of a to-be-formed committee that will likely be responsible for approving state-endorsed and industry-recognized credentials and certificates.

  • Per Act 189 legislation, all training funds awarded under the Workforce Education and Training Grant Fund are now required to demonstrate alignment with a career pathway.

  • VDOL and Associates for Training and Development have partnered to create the Vermont Returnship Program, an innovative project designed to address Vermont’s skilled labor shortages and pair employers with experienced workers. A “returnship” is a position similar to an internship, designed specifically for adults with previous experience in the workplace who have taken time away from their careers and seek to reenter the workforce. The Vermont Returnship Program mitigates the shrinking of the state’s workforce by bringing back into work those who are not currently engaged and retaining those who are otherwise poised to retire.

  • Re-directed grant funds to support the work of the Vermont Talent Pipeline Management Project to support development and rollout of career pathways across the state.

  • Applied for and received new funding for a national apprenticeship expansion grant. The grant led to the creation of a State Apprenticeship Team, charged encouraging more businesses to offer registered apprenticeships and encouraging more participants to enroll in registered apprenticeships.

  • Reviewed the use of federal Youth Program funding and as a result, will pursue a federal waiver that will allow VDOL to alter the ratio of youth demographics served. Current requirements direct a minimum of 75% of federal funds to be used serving “out of school youth.” Vermont ranks among the highest states in high school completion rates, and the number of out of school youth is small. In addition to out of school youth, VDOL is interested in supporting more at-risk youth who are still considered “in school” according to federal eligibility requirements. VDOL will be asking for a federal waiver that will allow them to use a minimum of 60% of its funding to support out of school youth.

  • Pursuing a new youth employment strategy that is not limited to summer months and engages more employers.

CFV strongly supports and encourages bold action that surpasses the creation of committees and plans. We call on the Vermont Department of Labor and State Workforce Development Board to doggedly pursue tangible outcomes and remain steadfast to following through with the good work that they have started. Our shrinking workforce is one of the most substantial threats to Vermont’s prosperity. We MUST prioritize the creation of a strong, modern, accessible workforce.


Here are three easy ways you can help us in our fight for a more prosperous and economically secure Vermont.

  1. Make a financial contribution. Your support will go directly toward engaging an educated public in issues of vital importance and putting people in the statehouse to fight for you.
  2. Contact your legislator and ask them what they are doing for you. Politicians work for us. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhauer, “we the people elect leaders not to rule, but to serve.”
  3. Follow us on social media. Keep up with the latest updates and opportunities for action.
  4. Look through our website. Take some time to read our position statements, learn about our past efforts, and connect with the team that is working for you.

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