Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - May 7, 2024

Senator Alison Clarkson presented H.702, on behalf of the Senate Government Operations Committee, on the Senate floor Tuesday. She reported that the Committee supported the bill.

Clarkson introduced the bill and its intent to senators. She noted that addressing the shortage of Vermont’s workforce is a top priority. The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) publishes openings monthly and in recent months the number has been as high as 10,000 openings. This creates an on impact on state revenues, and businesses have to operate on reduced hours and cannot expand their businesses. 

Clarkson noted that the Legislature had created a committee referred to as SOCWED (special oversight committee on workforce expansion and development) that was asked to recommend changes to the workforce delivery system. The Committee hired a consultant, and they worked on this project for two years.  They looked at the systems in place in Maine, North Dakota and Utah. They particularly concentrated on collecting data. 

The bill creates the Office of Workforce Strategy and Development reporting directly to the Governor along with a staff person. Both positions can be funded through the VDOL budget.  The purpose of the Directors position is to coordinate all the workforce development efforts throughout the state, both inside and outside of State Government.

There were also changes made to the structure of the Workforce Board. It previously had 63 members and this bill reduced that number to 26 members.  For every government representative on the board the Committee added two from the business sector. 

The bill created an Executive Committee on the Workforce Board as well as reauthorized SOCWED.  The bill also created a separate Task Force to focus solely on creating a data trust.

A section was added to the bill which references the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) and required the CPO to submit yearly outcome reports on workforce.  The CPO has been asked to submit to the Joint Government Oversight and Accountability Committee a request that any population level indicators related to that outcome be revised.

Finally, there is also a section of the bill recommending improvements to the State’s grant process. This section requires a performance review and a current analysis of the grant awarding process.

The bill was passed by the Senate on a voice vote.


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