Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - March 12-13, 2024

Early in the week the Department of Labor (VDOL) presented numerous recommended changes to the language in H.707.  Most of the changes indicated that VDOL would like to see more discussion and significant review before moving forward.  The primary discussion is about the creation of a separate office reporting to the Governor rather than located within VDOL.  The Commissioner later in the week stated that the Governor is not interested in creating a new office.  There was discussion that with the right person in the job as Executive Director it might not matter where the position resided as long as the individual was capable of executing the job description as envisioned by the House Commerce Committee.

Tom Cheney (Executive Director of Advance Vermont) noted that he was very supportive of the substance of the bill but had some questions about the structure as well.  Apparently, there are several states like Alabama, Ohio, and New York that have created a structure similar to what is being proposed in H.707 and have been very successful.  But there was concern expressed about the cost of establishing a stand-alone office. Although the new language made it very clear that the office would have the administrative, legal and technical support of the Department of Labor.  The example of the Office of Racial Equity was mentioned, which started out with one or two individuals and has now grown in size and scope since its formation in 2019.  Cheney did say that the effort to bring all parties invested in workforce development together is something he has promoted since Advance Vermont was formed (also since Campaign for Vermont was formed). The expansion of the Workforce Development Board was a step in the right direction. The proposed Board is now comprised of the Governor and the following members who are appointed by the Governor:

  • One member of the Vermont House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker.
  • One member of the Vermont Senate, appointed by the Senate Committee on Committees.
  • Four members who are core program representatives as follows:
    • The Commissioner of Labor
    • The Secretary of Education
    • The Secretary of Human Services
    • The Secretary of Commerce
  • Two representatives from labor organizations
  • One representative from a State-registered apprenticeship program
  • Three representatives of who have experience in employment, training or education needs of individuals with employment barriers:
    • Organizations that serve veterans;
    • Organizations that provide employment for individuals with disabilities; and
    • Organizations that connect volunteers to the workforce
  • Two elected local government officials who represent a city or town within different regions of the State.
  • Thirteen (13) business representatives to include nonprofits with at least one member representing a small business as defined by the US SBA.


The responsibilities of the Executive Director of Workforce Expansion and Development include:

  • Coordinate the efforts of workforce development in the State.
  • Oversee the affairs of the State Workforce Development Board.
  • Work with agencies and partners to develop strategies for comprehensive and integrated workforce education and training; manage the collection of outcome information; and align workforce efforts with other State strategies and perform other workforce and development duties as directed by the Governor.


And finally, there is the creation of the Executive Committee that is comprised as follows:

  • The Chair of the Board
  • The Commissioner of Labor or designee
  • Secretary of Education or designee
  • Secretary of Human Services or designee
  • Secretary Commerce and Community Development or designee
  • Two business representatives
  • Two workforce representatives


The bill requires that each agency and department within State government and each person who receives funding from the State shall comply with a request for data and information made by the Board, Commissioner or Executive Director.


The bill focused on the creation of a Regional Workforce Expansion System by making investments and improvements to expand regional capacity.  The bill authorizes the creation of four classified limited-service positions with funding within the Workforce Development Division to support the expansion of the regional workforce system.


The bill also creates a task force to study data management models to develop a report that includes recommendations on audience, partners, use cases, outcomes, and data required for future workforce, education and training programs; a detailed review of the current availability of public and private workforce development and training data; draft legislative language for the creation of a data tool, and a summary of other efforts across state government and through the agency of digital services regarding the development of data trusts, along with best practices identified through those efforts.


The bill would also form a Workforce Education and Training Leadership Working Group to review and propose changes to the leadership and duties set for in 10 V.S.A. Sec. 540, which provides the Commission of Labor with the authority and responsibility for the coordination of workforce education and training. 


The Committee continues to discuss the areas of agreement and disagreement particularly with the Governor’s concern about the bill.  Everyone agrees on the importance and critical nature of workforce development in Vermont. 

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