Workforce Development Governance Report

The House Commerce Committee heard from a consulting group on Tuesday regarding the governance of the state's workforce development programs.

The goals of this report included:

  1. Outline Vermont’s exiting workforce system and detailing the roles and reporting structure of each entity involved.
  2. Report on the existing level of formal and informal coordination and integration across workforce programs.
  3. Identify potential barriers to effective governance, administration, and integration.
  4. Identify how and when participant and program level information is shared between system partners.

The report gives a detailed explanation of the information gathering process, the list of documents reviewed ‘as a background desk review.”  There was also a list of the interviews completed in the presentation.

There are five key themes obtained from stakeholder feedback:

  1. There are prominent gaps in the public sector workforce. Interviewees from all groups recognized that state government – the Agency of Education and Department of Labor, in particular – are experiencing high vacancy rates and significant employee mobility, which impede accountability and any attempts at undertaking new initiatives.
  2. Communication was cited as a cause of frustration. Everything from struggling with Vermont Job Link, to having to scour numerous web pages to find resources targeted to employers, to listings of programs, etc. 
    1. Lack of communication between core programs and other workforce entities within the state; business services/working with employers is a common theme. 
  3. There is a need for a shared vision and clearly defined lanes.
    1. Good things area happening in Vermont and there is a definite desire to succeed; however there is a lack of clearly identified lanes or shared vision.
    2. Respondents state that they often feel like they are ’tripping over each other in the same space’ and not working effectively together towards clear, shared objectives.
  4. Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) wears many hates.
    1. VDOL’s many roles within the workforce system include
      1. Administration
      2. Service providers
      3. One-stop operator
      4. Monitoring
    2. Consultants were not sure that there are clearly identified or defined firewalls in place as required by statute.
    3. VDOL was suppose to procure an outside operator for one-stop-shop services, but that has not happened and they are still running the program in house.
  5. Cultural values or perceptions are getting in the way of unity to solve the issues. Some of the themes that were cited include: 
    1. Overall perception that Vermont should be focused on small, family-owned businesses instead of ‘bigger business’ interest.
    2. Emphasis on local control/identity at the expense of overall state health.
    3. Focus on K12 and post-secondary education, but without connecting workforce activities.

The report contains a section of initial Highlights & ‘Promising Practices” gleaned from interviews with:

  • Community College of Vermont
  • Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation
  • UVM Rural Institute
  • Working Communities Challenge
  • Community College of Vermont
  • Central Vermont Medical Center

NOTE: We will continue to follow this issue as it is critically important for the future of our state.

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