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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.433

Introduced by Committee on Commerce

Date:

Subject:  Next generation initiative; Vermont training program grants; workforce education and training fund; workforce development training grants; secondary and postsecondary internship grants; appropriations

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to bridge Vermont’s workforce development gap by supporting workforce development and secondary and postsecondary internships with employers by enhancing existing grant programs and establishing new grant programs to be administered jointly by the departments of labor and of economic development, with assistance from the workforce development council.  The grant programs are funded by the workforce education and training fund, which this bill codifies.  This bill also ensures that employers in other fields, such as information technology, telecommunications, and health care are eligible for grants through the Vermont employment training fund.  Finally, it makes appropriations in support of these and other workforce development initiatives. 

AN ACT RELATING TO THE NEXT GENERATION INITIATIVE OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS AND INTERNSHIPS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

* * * Findings; Intent * * *

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

Based on both the work of the next generation commission and extensive testimony taken by legislative committees during the 2007 session, the general assembly finds:

(1)  Workforce development is a critical component of economic development.

(2)  It is essential that Vermont adopt a clear economic development strategy that is designed to create a strong, sustainable economic environment, to determine workforce needs, and to make the best education and training available to all Vermonters. 

(3)  The initiatives in this act are an essential element of any long-term development strategy.  Other components of the strategy include increased access to higher education through scholarships and educational loan repayment programs, the expansion of broadband service and related technologies to every corner of the state, and an increase in the availability of affordable housing.  

(4)  Better coordination and collaboration among public and private entities involved in economic development, workforce development, and education is crucial to both the effective use of limited funds and the success of workforce development and training programs.

(5)  The initiatives in this act will succeed only by embracing an ongoing commitment to invest in the human capital of the state by ensuring opportunities for and access to education, training, and retraining for unemployed and underemployed workers and workers in transition.

Sec. 2.  INTENT

In order to bridge Vermont’s workforce development gap as outlined in the December 2006 report of the next generation commission, the general assembly states the following intent:

(1)  Economic development and workforce development.

(A)  Integrate and coordinate the state’s economic development, workforce development, and education systems through strategies designed to connect employers in need of a trained workforce with workers in need of training.  These workers include a broad range of individuals, from those who are unemployed or underemployed to those who are highly skilled and are transitioning from one position to another.

(B)  Increase the number of quality jobs in the state, through business recruitment, business expansion, and business incubation.

(C)  Increase the trained workforce in Vermont in order to meet the current and future needs of employers and to address the effects of any projected demographic challenges in the coming decades.

(D)  Encourage investment from public, private, and nonprofit entities in collaborative and innovative training programs and internships.

(2)  Employers’ needs and underemployed/unemployed adult workers.

(A)  Meet the current and future needs of Vermont employers for qualified and experienced workers by enhancing workforce development programs and increasing opportunities for Vermonters to achieve career advancement and career change through re-education and training.

(B)  Support and expand workforce development programs in the state to achieve long-term workforce and economic development goals. 

(C)  Invest in workforce development models that have a high return on investment standards.

(D)  Invest in new and existing responsive workforce development programs that meet the immediate needs of employers who lack an adequate workforce, including employers at risk of leaving the state, employers interested in locating in the state, and employers wishing to expand.

(E)  Dramatically increase state funding for postsecondary workforce development programs through grants, scholarships, and loan repayment that are linked to the state’s economic development goals and that create new jobs and economic growth.

(3)  Secondary and postsecondary students.

(A)  Create a continuum of education, training, and work experiences that provides secondary and postsecondary students with:

(i)  Increased career awareness.

(ii)  Meaningful relationships with adult mentors and role models in the workplace.

(iii)  Work experiences that assist the student in making current and future career and educational decisions.

(iv)  Work experiences that create important relationships with businesses and employers in the state.

(v)  Work experiences that contribute to the student’s desire to remain in the state after completing school.

(B)  Provide abundant, engaging, on-the-job learning opportunities, such as internships, for secondary and postsecondary students that motivate and inspire students to:

(i)  Learn and stay motivated.

(ii)  Complete high school.

(iii)  Pursue postsecondary education or training that will lead directly to jobs.

(iv)  Achieve life and career goals.

(C)  Invest in managed and mentored internship programs at the secondary and postsecondary level that:

(i)  Allow employers to evaluate secondary and postsecondary students for future employment.

(ii)  Create relationships between employers and consistent sources of potential student interns.

(iii)  Increase the opportunities for students to stay in Vermont to work and the likelihood that they will do so, thus meeting both the student’s and the employer’s needs.

(iv)  Provide models for similar internship programs. 

(D)  Provide opportunities for businesses to become more involved with Vermont schools, with students, and with curriculum in order to make schools places that prepare students for life and work.

(E)  Provide opportunities for the retired members of the community to assist in the education and inspiration of Vermont students, for example, as mentors and as managers of internships.

* * * Vermont Employment Training Program * * *

Sec. 3.  10 V.S.A. § 531(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The secretary of commerce and community development may issue grants to any employer, consortium of employers, or contract with providers of training, either individuals or organizations, as necessary, to conduct training under the following circumstances:

(1)  when issuing grants to an employer or consortium of employers, the employer promises as a condition of the grant to increase employment or provide training to enhance employment stability at an existing or expanded eligible facility within the state where eligible facility is defined as in subdivision § 212(6) of this title relating to Vermont economic development authority, or the employer or consortium of employers promises to open an eligible facility within the state which will employ persons, provided that for the purposes of this section, eligible facility may be broadly interpreted to include any employer who is aligned with the state’s economic development opportunities and needs and who is creating new jobs, including employers in the fields of information technology, telecommunications, health care, and environmental technologies; and

(2)  training is required for potential employees, new employees, or long‑standing employees in the methods, either singularly or in combination relating to pre-employment training, on-the-job training, upgrade training and crossover training, or specialized instruction, either in-plant or through a training provider.

 * * * Workforce Education and Training Fund; Workforce Development Grant Program for Innovative Training Programs; Workforce Development Grant Program for Secondary and Postsecondary Internships * * *

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. §§ 543 through 545 are added to read:

§ 543.  WORKFORCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING FUND

(a)  There is created a workforce education and training fund in the department of labor to be managed in accordance with subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.

(b)  Appropriations to the fund shall be used exclusively for the purposes of workforce education, training, and re-training to improve the skills of Vermont unemployed and underemployed workers and workers in transition.

(c)  The commissioner shall use the funds to make awards on a competitive basis to private, public, and nonprofit entities collaborating with employers and businesses, including institutions of higher education, technical centers, and workforce development programs, to enhance the quality of the Vermont workforce and increase its number of highly skilled workers.  The commissioner, with the commissioner of economic development, shall also use the funds to make awards under the grant programs established in sections 544 and 545 of this chapter.  Awards made under this section shall be given to programs and projects that test innovative and collaborative approaches to workforce development, and to the linking of workforce education and economic development strategies.  A program or project that demonstrates it has increased income and economic opportunity for employees and employers may receive funding for more than one year.

(d)  Except for awards made pursuant to section 544 and 545 of this chapter, which have award processes established in those sections, determination of awards from the fund shall rely upon criteria developed by the workforce development council, which shall include the following:

(1)  Proposals that address the needs of workers who are unemployed, underemployed, or are at risk of becoming unemployed due to new demands in the workplace.

(2)  Proposals that will lead to jobs paying 200 percent of the current minimum wage or 150 percent, including benefits.

(3)  Proposals that improve the productivity and job security of incumbent workers by addressing the need to upgrade skills.

(4)  Proposals that do not duplicate, supplant, or replace other programs funded with public money.

(e)  The commissioner of labor shall, in collaboration with the workforce development council and, in the case of the grant programs established in sections 544 and 545 of this chapter, also in collaboration with the commissioner of economic development, develop evaluation standards to measure the effectiveness of the programs and projects funded by this section.  On or before January 15 of each year, the commissioner of labor shall submit a report of awards made under this section and an assessment of the effectiveness of the funded programs and projects.

(f)  The commissioners of labor and of economic development, in collaboration with the workforce development council, shall develop a plan for an ongoing funding source for this program.

§ 544.  WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM FOR

             INNOVATIVE TRAINING PROGRAMS

(a)  There is created a workforce development grant program for existing or new innovative training programs authorized to award grants to public, private, and nonprofit entities for programs that train or re-train Vermont residents and that lead directly to employment in guaranteed jobs in new or vacant positions. 

(b)  The commissioners of labor and of economic development, in consultation with the workforce development council, shall jointly select grant recipients according to an award process to be developed by the commissioners based on criteria established by the workforce development council.  At a minimum, the criteria shall require that the programs presented by successful applications:

(1)  Ensure guaranteed jobs in new or vacant positions.

(2)  Lead to jobs paying 200 percent of the current minimum wage or 150 percent, including benefits.

(3)  Include a measurable investment from involved employers.

(4)  Are structured to provide readily accountable and reportable results.

(c)  The commissioners shall select from among applicants proposing innovative programs of intensive, student-centric, competency-based education, training, apprenticeship, or mentoring, or any combination of these. 

(d)  Funding under this section is intended to be used for programs involving Vermont employers and resident Vermont workers.  Unless the program is funded entirely by this section, nothing shall preclude a program from including collaboration with employers located and workers living outside Vermont’s borders.

(e)  In making their decisions, the commissioners shall consider the economic development needs of and opportunities in all regions of the state. 

(f)  Grants under this section shall be awarded from the workforce education and training fund established in section 543 of this chapter or from other appropriations made for this purpose. 

(g)  Grants may be used to:

(1)  Fund the cost of running or coordinating a training program.

(2)  Provide students with a stipend during the time they are enrolled in the program.

(h)  Administrative support shall be provided by the departments of labor and of economic development, according to an agreement negotiated by the commissioners that assigns responsibilities between the two departments. 

(i)  The commissioners may request technical, administrative, financial, and other information and support from the workforce development council and other public entities involved in economic development, workforce development and training, and education. 

(j)  On or before October 1 of each year, the commissioners shall submit a joint report to the governor, the speaker of the house, the president pro tempore of the senate, the chair of the house committee on commerce, and the chair of the senate committee on economic development, housing, and general affairs detailing:

(1)  The number of applications received, grants awarded, jobs created (with a breakdown of wages), and jobs filled (with a breakdown of wages) under this section during the prior fiscal year.  This information (without the breakdown of wages) shall also be updated and posted quarterly on the department of labor’s website.

(2)  The funds they anticipate needing for grants in the upcoming fiscal year. 

(3)  The extent to which the grant program has fostered coordination, cooperation, and the effective expenditure of resources by the various entities in the state involved in workforce education and training, as manifested by newly created jobs or increased wages.

(4)  The extent to which the grant program has provided the infrastructure and resources necessary to remove any barriers that impede employers from participating in and providing workforce training opportunities.

(5)  The extent to which the grant program has provided the infrastructure and resources necessary to remove any barriers that impede educational institutions and private entities from participating in and providing workforce training opportunities.

§ 545.  WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM FOR

             SECONDARY AND POSTSECONDARY INTERNSHIPS

(a)  There is created a workforce development grant program for secondary and postsecondary internships authorized to award grants to public, private, and nonprofit entities for internship programs that match secondary and postsecondary students with Vermont employers. 

(b)  As used in this section, the word “internship” shall mean work-based learning that occurs with an employer where the intern may, but does not necessarily, receive academic credit, financial remuneration, a stipend, or any combination of these.  Internships shall involve the production of a meaningful service or work-product for the employer and a meaningful experience for the intern. 

(c)  The commissioners of labor and of economic development, in consultation with the workforce development council, shall jointly select grant recipients according to an award process to be developed by the commissioners based on criteria established by the workforce development council.  At a minimum, the criteria shall require that the programs presented by successful applications:

(1)  Foster a true employer-employee relationship.

(2)  Create real workplace expectations and consequences for choices made.

(3)  Include a rubric that measures progress toward mastery of the skills, attitude, behavior, and sense of responsibility required for success in the workplace.

(d)  The commissioners shall select from among applicants proposing innovative programs that lead directly to work-based internships with Vermont employers.  Successful applicants shall present programs designed to:

(1)  Motivate and educate secondary and postsecondary students through work-based learning opportunities.

(2)  Provide opportunities for secondary and postsecondary students to prepare for and make direct connections with Vermont employers that are likely to lead to employment.

(3)  Provide opportunities for secondary and postsecondary students to develop the skills, attitude, behavior, and sense of responsibility required for success in the workplace.

(4)  Provide mechanisms by which Vermont employers become involved with secondary and postsecondary students and with the curriculum and the delivery of education at the involved schools.

(5)  Provide Vermont secondary and postsecondary students with the continuum of learning, experience, and relationships with employers that will enable and encourage graduates to work and live in Vermont.

(e)  Grants under this section shall be awarded from the workforce education and training fund established in section 543 of this chapter or from other appropriations made for this purpose. 

(f)  Grants may be used to:

(1)  Fund the cost of running or coordinating an internship program.

(2)  Provide interns with a stipend during the time they are enrolled in the program.

(g)  Administrative support shall be provided by the departments of labor and of economic development, according to an agreement negotiated by the commissioners that assigns responsibilities between the two departments. 

(h)  The commissioners may request technical, administrative, financial, and other information and support from the workforce development council and other public entities involved in economic development, workforce development and training, and education. 

(i)  On or before October 1 of each year, the commissioners shall submit a joint report to the governor, the speaker of the house, the president pro tempore of the senate, the chair of the house committee on commerce, and the chair of the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs detailing:

(1)  The number of applications received, grants awarded, internships created, and interns involved under this section during the prior fiscal year. This information shall also be updated and posted quarterly on the department of labor’s website.

(2)  The funds they anticipate needing for grants in the upcoming fiscal year. 

(3)  The extent to which the grant program has fostered coordination, cooperation, and the effective expenditure of resources by the various entities in the state involved in workforce development, as manifested by newly created internships.

(4)  The extent to which the grant program has provided the infrastructure and resources necessary to remove any barriers that impede employers from participating in and providing internship opportunities.

(5)  The extent to which the grant program has provided the infrastructure and resources necessary to remove any barriers that impede educational institutions from encouraging student participation in internship opportunities.

* * * Legislative Workforce Grant Oversight Committee * * *

Sec. 5.  LEGISLATIVE WORKFORCE GRANT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

(a)  Committee.  There is created a legislative workforce grant oversight committee to review progress toward development and implementation of the grants created in Sec. 4 of this act, identify issues arising in connection with development and implementation, and propose solutions to the identified issues.  The committee shall consist of four representatives selected by the speaker of the house and four senators selected by the committee on committees.  The committee shall be co-chaired by one of the representatives, selected by the speaker, and one of the senators, selected by the committee on committees.  The first meeting shall be called by the co-chairs and shall occur no later than July 15, 2007.

(b)  Duties.  The committee shall hold no more than two meetings during the 2007 interim.  It may take testimony concerning the grant programs created in Sec. 4 of this act and shall:

(1)  Review the progress of the commissioners of labor and of economic development in developing the application and award process for the grant programs.

(2)  Review progress of the commissioners of labor and of economic development in implementing the two grant programs. 

(3)  Review the quarterly information required under Sec. 4 of this act. 

(4)  Identify issues arising during the development and implementation of the grant programs and recommend solutions to those issues.

(c)  The committee shall report to the general assembly on or before

January 1, 2008 regarding its review of the grant programs and any recommendations for legislative changes to the programs. 

(d)  Members of the committee shall be entitled to compensation and expenses pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(e)  The legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall provide administrative services.


* * * Appropriations * * *

Sec. 6.  APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  Nondegree grant program.  The total sum of $1,100,000.00 is appropriated to the Vermont student assistance corporation for its nondegree grant program, which may include living stipends, not to exceed $3,000.00 each, for students participating in workforce development programs.  Of the total amount appropriated in this subsection, $500,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $600,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(b)  Vermont employment training fund.  The total sum of $1,400,000.00 is appropriated to the agency of commerce and community development for the Vermont employment training fund for the issuance of grants pursuant to
10 V.S.A. § 531, which shall be connected to the creation of new jobs.  Of the total amount appropriated in this subsection, $400,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $1,000,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(c)  Loan repayment for health care professionals.  The total sum of $2,400,000.00 is appropriated to the Vermont student assistance corporation for repayment of commercial or governmental loans for postsecondary health care-related education or training owed by persons living and working in Vermont in the health care field.  Of the total amount appropriated in this subsection, $1,200,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $1,200,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(d)  Workforce education and training fund.  The total sum of $2,800,000.00 is appropriated to the department of labor for the workforce education and training fund as follows:

(1)  A total of $2,200,000.00 for the workforce development grant program for innovative training programs created under 10 V.S.A. § 544, of which amount $700,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $1,500,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(2)  A total of $600,000.00 for the workforce development grant program for secondary and postsecondary internships created under 10 V.S.A. § 545, of which amount $300,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $300,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(e)  Scholarships.  The total sum of $4,300,000.00 is appropriated to the Vermont student assistance corporation for scholarships as follows:

(1)  A total of $2,800,000.00 to provide scholarships for Vermont students, of which amount $1,200,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $1,600,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(2)  A total of $1,000,000.00 to provide scholarships for academic credit received in connection with internships, of which amount $500,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $500,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

(3)  A total of $500,000.00 to provide need-based scholarships for secondary students enrolled in dual enrollment courses at postsecondary institutions, of which amount $200,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2007 monies transferred to the next generation initiative fund, and $300,000.00 is from the fiscal year 2008 general fund.

Sec. 7.  REPEAL

Sec. 157a(d) of No. 62 of the Acts of 1999, as amended by Sec. 14 of No. 212 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) (workforce education and training fund) is repealed.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us