Last Tuesday, the Senate Workforce Development Task Force released a report that includes recommendations for the state to help improve employee readiness; to better meet the workforce needs of private sector employers; to connect job seekers with potential employers; and to retrain those who have lost jobs. The task force’s recommendations are directed is breaking down stigmas associated with students going through vocational programs rather than through academic higher education.

The Task Force’s recommendations include:

  • gaining forward-looking employment data from the state Department of Labor so that employers and educators can better predict future workforce needs and career opportunities;
  • investing $23 million to continue and expand P-TECH schools;
  • increasing access to career and tech programs at BOCES, and to continuing adult education programs at BOCES;
  • investing $12 million to continue and expand early college high schools – improving participation in apprenticeships by promoting coordination between school guidance counselors and local building trades councils;
  • increasing funding for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program and enacting the Help Individuals Reach Employment (HIRE) program; and
  • establishing new degree or certificate programs based on future regional industry needs.

We are pleased that the Senate will be taking a leadership role on this issue. There is a significant amount of room for improvement in the state on this issue.  At a time when the state’s manufacturers cannot find the trained workers that they need, we need lawmakers to make workforce development a higher priority and ensure that taxpayers are getting the results they deserve.