Communities, states and regions work with economic development agencies along with businesses as well as universities, tech schools, and companies to support their workforce needs with appropriate education and training, incentives and grants available to businesses and/or hired workers.
It is crucial for companies, states and communities to identify high-demand occupations, the process used to identify the occupations, and if a state publicly displays required training or credentials. Business and economic development leaders identify high-demand occupations and the required training to enter the skilled occupations. High-demand professions are defined as those acknowledged in the state as being in need within the state economy or where employee shortages exist.
In compliance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), all states have a statewide workforce development board or council, and these groups of community leaders appointed by local elected officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area. However, some states have gone beyond the requirements in federal policy to expand the board’s membership to include additional members within the education system, such as state superintendents of education and chancellors of postsecondary institutions.
Additionally, some states have developed policies that expand the responsibilities or charges of the board to include explicit connections to education in both K-12 and postsecondary settings. Let’s look at some outstanding state programs outlined below.
LOUISIANA – LED FastStart
Recognized for its innovation, effectiveness, flexibility and efficiency, LED FastStart® is the nation’s best state workforce training program, according to Business Facilities magazine. FastStart provides customized employee recruitment, screening, training development and training delivery for eligible, new or expanding companies—all at no cost. Based on a company’s immediate and long-term workforce needs, the FastStart team crafts unique programs that ensure high-quality, flexible workers are prepared on day one and beyond.
The FastStart team includes dozens of experienced professionals from a range of businesses—manufacturing to corporate headquarters, digital media to customer support centers and reseach and development. FastStart has designed and delivered comprehensive workforce solutions for a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, as well as high-tech companies funded by leading venture capital firms. The FastStart experience includes 2D/3D Graphics Development, Curriculum Design, Instructional Design, Leadership Instruction, Organization Development, Photography, Project Management, Recruitment and Selection Tactics, Social Media Campaign Implementation, Technical Instruction, Videography and Web Design.
GEORGIA – QuickStart
For more than 40 years, Georgia Quick Start has provided customized workforce training free of charge to any qualified company, whether new to Georgia, expanding a workforce here, or adding new technology to stay competitive. Georgia produces more than 60,000 highly-skilled, future employees every year. Workforce training in Georgia is provided through several initiatives, but the state’s signature program is Georgia Quick Start, a free program customized for companies in numerous industries. The oldest program of its kind in the U.S., Quick Start has updated the skill sets of more than one million employees in 6,500 projects. Quick Start helps companies maintain a competitive advantage by preparing workers for skill sets needed tomorrow as well as today.
Quick Start develops and delivers customized training for new employees in skill-based jobs at no cost to qualified companies investing in Georgia. The program’s services are provided free of charge as a discretionary incentive for job creation for clients opening or expanding manufacturing operations, distribution centers, headquarters operations and customer contact centers in a broad range of industries. Quick Start helps companies assess, select and train the right people at the right time for success. The program provides training space, instructors and all needed materials related to the program, potentially saving companies millions of dollars in training costs. The training program is given to the company for its future use.
Today, the program is one of the state’s key assets for supporting new and expanding industries. Quick Start delivers training in classrooms, mobile labs or directly on the plant floor, wherever it works best for a company. Companies can accelerate employee training and lower expenses by utilizing the customized job-specific training and orientation available through Georgia’s Quick Start program. It is administered by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education (GDTAE) and provides flexible, customized training through a network of technical colleges, multiple satellite campuses and four associated universities. Recognized by such publications as Expansion Management and Fortune, Quick Start has offered services ranging from company orientation to advanced manufacturing technology training to productivity enhancement. For more information on Quick Start, please visit http://georgiaquickstart.org.
NEVADA – Workforce Innovations for the New Nevada (WINN)
One of the opportunities for companies looking to expand or locate their business operation in Nevada is the state’s ready and willing workforce, as well as Nevada’s commitment to create training programs that will equip workers with the skills needed by employers.
Workforce Innovations for the New Nevada (WINN) represents the first workforce development training program of its kind in Nevada and is a commitment to businesses to arm them with the skilled employees they need to be successful. The program is administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in coordination with Nevada System of Higher Education, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovations, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, and the Nevada Department of Education. Since its inception, WINN has made more than $8 million in strategic investments to enable accelerated on-ramps to high-skill and high wage jobs. Employers may receive assistance from GOED to connect to an existing program or develop a custom program to meet their unique needs.
Texas has the perfect combination of highly-skilled talent and world-class schools that continue to meet the needs of businesses across all industries. The Lone Star State is home to more than 14 million industrious and globally diverse Texans. Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the state agency charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job seekers of
Texas. TWC strengthens the Texas economy by providing the workforce development component of the Governor’s economic development strategy and boasts an incredibly skilled workforce ready to attract enterprise to the Lone Star State. By focusing on the needs of employers, TWC gives Texas the competitive edge necessary to draw business to the state.
In Texas, there are twenty-eight Local Boards operating over 180 Local Workforce Solutions offices and are also responsible for developing local plans for the use of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds, oversight of the local service delivery system, coordinating activities with economic development entities and employers in their local areas. The majority of each board is represented by members of the local business community, and board membership includes individuals representing business and industry, economic development agencies, community-based organizations, education, organized labor, public assistance agencies and more.
There are 37 public universities and upper-division centers, including six state university systems and 50 community college districts in Texas and continues feeding a strong pipeline of working talent into the state.
IOWA – Fills the Skills Gap
Iowa doesn’t just talk about America’s skills gap, its workforce rolls up their sleeves and fills it. How? Iowa has ramped up its STEM education in public schools and made it easier for businesses to collaborate with students. The state has also increased its focus on technical trade skills at its network of community colleges—where curriculum aligns with the needs of business.
At Iowa’s research-focused universities the next wave of biomedical engineers and data analysts are ready to compete in the global economy, as advanced technologies are commercialized for the private sector. Iowa fills the gap with smart, educated, and efficient workers. Workforce training programs includes Industrial New Jobs Training Program—creating new jobs with employee training; Iowa Jobs Training Program—providing job training to current employees; Community College Consortium—funding assistance for training projects in which two or more businesses participate; Accelerated Career Education Program—260G, partnering with community colleges to train workforce; and Career Link—funding for workforce training for low-income individuals.
The workforce development system in Iowa is multifaceted and includes public and private training providers that work with individuals of all ages and abilities. Programs prepare individuals to enter or re-enter the workforce and place them into jobs. Several programs and tax credits are available through Iowa Workforce Development include Adult and Dislocated Workers, Registered Apprenticeship, Employment and Disability, Ticket to Work, Ex-Offender Initiative, Federal Bond Program, Home Base Iowa, Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker, PROMISE JOBS, Services for Youth and Young Adults, IowaWORKS, Ticket to Work, Trade Act Assistance, Veterans Employment Services, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
ILLINOIS – Workforce Plan
How can companies in Illinois best develop their talent pipeline to remain competitive? By partnering with preferred training and education suppliers available through WIOA programs who are developing Illinois’ workforce to meet employer’s growing demands and requirements. These programs provide individuals with a roadmap showing pathways to employment and how to acquire the skills businesses in Illinois need today, including education, job training, and support services to secure a living wage job.
The Illinois Workforce Plan integrates workforce, education and economic development services that break down barriers to accessing job-driven training resulting in employment opportunities, and assist in the effective and efficient implementation of WIOA regulations within Illinois’ economic development regions.
PENNSYLVANIA – PAsmart and WEDnetPA
Pennsylvania’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, a public-private partnership created last year by the governor to study workforce development, presented its first report to the Wolf administration. It found five major barriers to employment and a list of 42 recommendations to address those barriers. Govenror Tom Wolf’s budget proposes investing $14 million to support the recommendations, building on a $124 million investment to fully fund PAsmart, career and technical centers, industry partnerships and apprenticeships to provide job skills training. The governor’s budget proposes a $12 million competitive grant program through the Department of Community and Economic Development to address employment barriers and a $2 million increase for WEDnetPA, which helps businesses with training to upskill existing employees.
INDIANA – Skills Enhancement Training
Indiana Strategic Workforce Plan will serve as the state’s Combined Plan under WIOA for the next four years and will incorporate several federal and state programs that impact the workforce development system in addition to the six “core” formula grant programs. The plan identifies two overarching goals: having at least 60 percent of Hoosiers attain a quality credential beyond a high school diploma by 2025 and increasing engagement between employers and state and local agencies to identify and address the skills gap with greater responsiveness and efficiency.
As the State with the highest density of manufacturing in the nation, a thriving life sciences sector, and a core competency in motorsports, companies can draw from an experienced workforce with both broad and deep skill sets. Behind the workforce of Indiana is a system of technical training. Indiana is the first state in the U.S. to begin technical training in its high schools, which links seamlessly into both technical schools and universities. Technical workforce training is anchored by Ivy Tech Community College, the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech offers both standard degrees and certification programs as well as industry specific customized training.
The best trained workforces involve a partnership of industry and educational institutions. The State of Indiana Skills Enhancement Fund is designed to provide funds to support the company’s training related expenses. SEF provides assistance to businesses to support training and upgrading skills of employees required to support new capital investment. The grant may be provided to reimburse a portion (typically 50 percent) of eligible training costs over a period of two full calendar years from the commencement of the project.
OHIO – JobsOhio
Ohio has launched an Industry Sector Partnership Grant program that is funded through the state operating budget signed in 2019 and invests $5 million over the biennium. The program strives to ensure Ohioans can be part of the workforce pipeline, meeting the needs of job creators and the local economy. Grant funding will help support the operations of industry sector partnerships, including program coordinators, new tools and programs, and other expenses associated with launching partnerships. Ohio’s workforce receives education and training from nationally recognized institutions that craft programs specifically for the needs of modern businesses.
Ohio is home to an abundant and industrious talent pool, from tech-savvy coders to computer numerically controlled (CNC) operators, from engineers and scientists to those in professional services and healthcare. Earlier this year, JobsOhio announced a $1.5 million investment for existing manufacturing work-based skill programs with a goal of increasing the number of workers with in-demand skills to power northwest Ohio manufacturers. JobsOhio focuses on industries that include advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, automotive, energy and chemicals, financial services, food and agribusiness, healthcare, tech, logistics and distribution.
In Ohio, there are more than 300 higher education campuses in Ohio with over 170,000 graduate students annually, 53 Ohio Technical Centers, eight universities/colleges certified by the National Security Agency as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, and two schools certified in Cyber Operations. Four Ohio universities – Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Akron and the University of Toledo – are among the top 100 in the world for patents issued in the United States to protect new inventions—the second highest in the region.
Community and Local Workforce Development Boards along with economic development agencies are here to help and deliver workforce development services in their appointed area.Businesses or individuals seeking WIOA services, including occupational or career training, should contact their state and local workforce investment area staff or economic development staff to inquire about WIOA or programs offered to help your business succeed.