"Workforce Development" UpdateJanuary 21, 2019
Last year at the 2018 Vermont Fresh Network Annual Meeting, we had a panel discussion on Workforce Development. Notes from the conversation are found here. We checked back in with Sarah Buxton, from the Department of Labor's Workforce Development Division, for an update.
Entering 2018, Vermont had a very low unemployment rate, 2.9%, which was creating challenges for employers seeking to fill jobs. Entering 2019, the unemployment rate was virtually unchanged, at 2.7%. At the time of our 2018 Annual Meeting the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) had just published a report to the legislature outlining their plan for labor force expansion, found here. The Workforce Development Division was been focused on coordinating efforts across the state - coordinating across geography and agencies - along with a statewide strategy related to co-locating services at their 12 Regional Career Resource Centers.
The following is an update from VDOL on specific new and evolving projects:
- The Creation of a State Returnship Program: The Vermont Department of Labor and Associates for Training and Development (A4TD) have partnered to create the Vermont Returnship Program, an innovative project designed to address Vermont’s skilled labor shortages and pair employers with experienced workers. A “Returnship” is a position similar to an internship, designed specifically for adults with previous experience in the workplace who have taken time away from their careers and seek to reenter the workforce. The Vermont Returnships Program mitigates the shrinking of the state’s workforce by bringing back into work those who are not currently engaged and retaining those who are otherwise poised to retire.
- Modifications to the Strategic State Plan: In January of 2018, the State Workforce Development Board voted to create an ad hoc State Plan Modification Committee charged with overseeing the revision of Vermont’s 2016 WIOA Unified State Plan. Committee members revised the plan’s strategic vision, goals, and strategies, and reviewed modifications made by Vermont’s WIOA core partners (the Department of Labor, the Agency of Education, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation). Revisions to the plan were submitted in April of 2018 and throughout 2019, Board and the WIOA core partners will prepare to submit a new WIOA Unified State Plan for 2020.
- Utilizing the Public Library Structure: The Vermont Department of Labor is utilizing a new strategy that includes a partnership with the local Public Libraries network as a way to access communities and job seekers.
- Assigning and Creating Committees Within the State Workforce Development Board Structure: In January of 2018, the State Workforce Development Board voted to create three new standing subcommittees and one limited duration work group to capitalize on Board members’ expertise while ensuring that the Board’s work and obligations are met with necessary expediency. These subcommittees include the Career Pathways Committee, the Policy Committee, the Training & Credentialing Work Group, and the Youth Committee.
- The Creation of an Apprenticeship Team: In July of this year, Apprenticeships and the on-the-job training model received national attention when President Trump announced the formation of the National Council for the American Worker. The Scott Administration and the Vermont Department of Labor, however, were one step ahead with the formation of an Apprenticeship Division team and the expansion of the Department’s statewide registered apprenticeship strategy. This team within the Department of Labor is tasked with creating more Registered Apprenticeship opportunities and ensuring that our local workforce has the correct training and skills to keep up with Vermont’s changing economy.
- A Focus on Integrating Workforce Development Case Management in All Recovery Centers: As of March 2018, the Department of Labor made a commitment to co-locate case managers in Recovery Centers all across the state. By June of 2018, the Department has had at least one case manager from each of our 12 Regional Offices posted in their local Recovery Center providing employment orientation sessions, and 1-on-1 services to facilitate workshops on employment related topics to individuals receiving recovery services.
We'll keep you updated as more information is available!