The world of work is in a constant state of flux, especially in the wake of the digital revolution and the global pandemic. As a result, the need for a highly skilled and adaptable workforce is more important than ever. To meet this need, states across the U.S. are investing heavily in workforce development programs designed to prepare their citizens for the jobs of the future. These initiatives are bridging the gap between the skills people have and the skills employers need, fostering economic growth and improving quality of life in the process.
Private enterprises stand to gain significantly from partnering with state-funded workforce development programs. These partnerships can help enterprises solve two critical challenges they often face: the need for a skilled workforce and the cost of developing that workforce. By collaborating with these initiatives, companies can help shape training programs to ensure they meet the specific skill needs of their industry, resulting in a pipeline of employees who are ready to hit the ground running. This not only reduces the time and resources spent on training new hires but also helps fill skills gaps that may exist within their current workforce.
In this blog post, we explore the innovative workforce development programs in eight states: Arkansas, Connecticut, New York, Michigan, California, Louisiana, Texas, and Ohio. From reskilling initiatives to job search platforms, these states are leading the way in preparing their workforce for the future.
What are Workforce Development Programs?
Workforce development programs are typically administered by state agencies, such as a labor department, and are designed to help job seekers acquire the skills and training needed to secure employment and advance their careers. The goal of these programs is to enable individuals to acquire the skills needed to secure higher-paying jobs and meet the needs of employers in growing industries. By investing in its workforce, a state hopes to boost economic growth and improve the quality of life for its residents.
The specific programs and initiatives offered by each state vary depending on factors such as funding availability and the needs of the local workforce. Common areas of focus for state-funded programs include:
Workforce initiatives offer a variety of resources to help individuals explore different careers and industries, including information on job duties, required skills and education, and expected salaries.
These programs often include a skills assessment that helps individuals identify their strengths and areas for improvement, and suggests career paths that align with their skills and interests.
Workforce initiatives can include a job search engine that allows individuals to search for positions based on their skills and location and to save job postings for later review, as well as individualized assistance with a designated adviser.
They can also provide information on educational and training programs through apprenticeships, community colleges, and four-year universities.
Most workforce development programs offer tools and resources to help individuals create effective resumes and cover letters that highlight their skills and experience.
These eight state programs focus on helping individuals acquire skills and opportunities, thereby benefiting the state's entire economy.
ReSkill Arkansas provides free workforce training and education programs to state residents. The program aims to equip individuals with new skills and certifications in high-demand industries such as healthcare, information technology, transportation, and manufacturing.
Through ResSkill Arkansas, participants can access a variety of educational and training opportunities, including online courses, industry-specific training, apprenticeships, and career counseling. The program also provides financial assistance for eligible individuals to cover the costs of training and certification exams.
Connecticut's CareerConneCT is an online platform that provides resources and tools to help individuals in Connecticut plan their career paths and connect with job opportunities. The platform is designed to assist people at all stages of their careers, from high school students exploring their options to experienced professionals seeking new job opportunities.
The state of Connecticut launched a $70 million program in mid-2022 to help people in Connecticut return to work after COVID-19. The program is administered by the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy and is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. It includes 19 job training programs in various fields, such as manufacturing, healthcare, IT, CDL licensing, green jobs, infrastructure/construction, life sciences, and business services.
According to Connecticut Chief Workforce Officer Kelli Vallieres, there are over 100,000 open positions in the state. The challenge of filling them comes due to a mismatch in skills.
The programs being launched are targeted to help reskill and upskill underrepresented populations in the workforce, such as BIPOC, people with disabilities, the re-entry population, opportunity youth, veterans, immigrants, and women.
New York's Office of Strategic Workforce Development (OSWD) aims to align workforce development with the needs of employers by creating industry-driven training that provides in-demand skills and direct job placement.
The state is investing $350 million in workforce development and will focus on targeted economic sectors identified as ripe for growth. Private companies can work with OSWD to receive grants for high-skilled workforce training programs, cutting down on training costs.
The Going Pro Talent Fund provides funding to businesses to help train their current and newly hired employees. This program has helped over 4,000 businesses train more than 100,000 workers in high-demand occupations, such as software developers and registered nurses.
California’s Workforce Accelerator Fund was created with the goal of improving the market by offering small grants to promote new training and workplace innovation. Private companies can benefit from the program by leveraging state investment with commitments from inside their industries to help renew the workforce through reskilling and upskilling. Through the program, the state of California hopes to implement strategies to fill the gap in the needs of the labor market and the skills currently possessed by employees.
LED FastStart provides customized training to businesses that are expanding or relocating to Louisiana. This program has helped businesses in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, information technology, and health care, find and train skilled workers. Private companies can partner with this program by working with LED FastStart to design and implement training programs for their employees.
The Skills Development Fund is a program that helps Texas businesses and their employees by providing customized training opportunities. To participate, a business identifies a training need and partners with an eligible grant applicant. The grant applicant administers the grant, and businesses create new jobs and improve their current workers' skills. This is a benefit to both the employee, who receives the reskilling, and the company that receives financial assistance to cut the reskilling cost.
The Texas Workforce Commission administers funding for the program to support collaborations among businesses, eligible grant applicants, and local economic development partners. For fiscal year 2020-21, nearly $45 million was appropriated to support high-quality customized training projects statewide through the Skills Development Fund.
The JobsOhio Workforce Grant program offers funding to assist in training, retraining, and upskilling employees. The program covers training costs in targeted areas such as information technology, product knowledge, safety training, maintenance and skilled trades, leadership skills, and many others.
JobsOhio has invested over $500 million since the onset of COVID-19, which has resulted in over 300,000 jobs impacted throughout the 10 new programs implemented. Intel is one of the companies that has benefitted from this. The company was given a $25 million grant for employee training toward a $20 billion project. Intel will provide the employees with training, and JobsOhio will provide reimbursement for qualifying positions.
The success of workforce development programs in these states can be attributed to a focus on industry partnerships, targeted training programs, and investments in apprenticeships and other forms of on-the-job training. By aligning education and training programs with the needs of employers and supporting workers at all levels, these states have been able to develop a skilled and diverse workforce that can meet the demands of a changing economy.
Correlation One is a platform that provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to adult learners seeking in-demand roles with government and enterprise partners. Using synchronous, human-led learning models, members of underrepresented workforce segments can be empowered to achieve career growth. Correlation One includes a base of some of the largest employers in the data economy who experience workforce transformation through optimal employee engagement and the real-world business impact of data skills.