Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - April 19, 2024

Representative Marcotte presented a high-level overview of H.707 for the Senate Economic Development Committee. He introduced himself and noted that he was Chair of both House Commerce and Economic Development as well as the SOCWED, a special committee designed to review how best to approach workforce development in Vermont.

Chairwoman Ram Hinsdale noted that it is a possible they will vote soon as they have not heard any opposition to the bill.  It was also noted that several members of the Committee also served with Marcotte on SOCWED.

He framed the bill as reflecting the recommendations of the SOCWED Committee. While it took longer than anticipated to develop the bill, they were able to hire an excellent consulting group who were instrumental in leading the Committee through the process.

There were three distinct goals that were developed in the bill: 

  1. Shrink the size of the workforce development board to make it more nimble and responsive.
  2. Create the executive committee.
  3. Create office of workforce expansion and development reporting directly to the Governor.

Marcotte noted that they want the executive director to coordinate workforce programs both inside and outside state government and to create regional groups to assist as well. It is also critically important that the state remains in compliance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).

The bill also focuses on the importance of data collection. He noted they took testimony from North Dakota who has been working on this for over ten years this revealed the need to evaluate how things are going.  The data will be used to determine whether funding will be provided to non-profits and other parties based on their results. It will also identify needs such as transportation to/from work or training opportunities.

NOTE: Data and coordination have been critical missing pieces in the states workforce development efforts.

Ron Painter (Principal, Forbes Field Associates) shared that he has worked in the field on the local level prior to his work at Forbes.  He stated their work was guided by discussions with involved parties and with those out in the field.  He noted that it is important to hold conversations throughout the state and to ensure they happen on a regular basis on issues important to them such as transportation and housing. 

Adam Grinold (Chair, State Workforce Development Board) spoke for a few minutes. He expressed his support of the bill and noted its potential impact on workforce development in the State.

The Commissioner of the Department of Labor reiterated that the Governor does not support creating a separate office. With that said, the Commissioner offered that the office should be dedicated to workforce strategy as it is not providing direct services. The Committee supported the idea and decided to rename the office to The Office of (Workforce) Strategy and Development.

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