On behalf of the House members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I wish to express our deep appreciation to Speaker Mariano for his commitment to supporting the needs of our workforce and to Chairman Michlewitz and his staff for putting together a strong budget to meet the labor challenges we face and match this pivotal moment in the Commonwealth’s history with the resources necessary for our workforce development system.
I would like to highlight some key labor and workforce development provisions in this budget that may be helpful in communications with your districts. If there is a common thread in these budget line items, it is that we are investing in our people. We all know that what powers Massachusetts is our skilled workforce and we should all be proud that our budget reflects that commitment.
7003-0803: MassHire Career Centers
The House budget provides $15 Million for MassHire Career Centers and ensures adequate resources to assist unemployed workers across the state. These centers serve every community in the Commonwealth. They work to prepare unemployed workers who are looking to re-enter the job market through counseling, training, and referrals for reskilling opportunities. MassHire’s career center system will be a central part of the recovery process for Massachusetts. The budget also provides over $2 Million in additional funding to the Department of Career Services for the purposes of maintaining and upgrading career center computer systems statewide. This has become especially important as pandemic conditions have forced career centers to transition their operations online in order to provide virtual options. $5.5 million increase over the FY2022 Budget.
1595-1075: Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund
The House budget provides $17 Million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. This program funds occupational training opportunities for workers with limited or no connection to the labor force, with a focus on industries where there is a high demand for new workers. Employers with job openings partner with vocational training providers in order to help people gain the necessary credentials for employment. Programs supported through the trust fund will be an important part of efforts to retrain workers who have lost jobs in industries that are signaling plans to make permanent staffing reductions. $7 million increase over the Governor’s Budget proposal.
7002-0012: Job Program for At-Risk Youth (YouthWorks)
The House budget provides $28.3 Million to YouthWorks. This program is administered by the Department of Career Services and provides subsidized job opportunities for low-income and at-risk youth aged 14-25 in over 40 cities across the Commonwealth. This is on top of the $25 million the legislature provided utilizing ARPA funds, which will be used to increase the age cut-off from 21 to 25 and expand its offerings to provide job opportunities beyond the summer months. Despite the pandemic, YouthWorks was able to provide paid opportunities for over 5,000 young people in the Commonwealth last year. Summer jobs teach teenagers the value of accountability and punctuality. These cornerstones of professionalism ensure the success of young adults on their way to college or into the workforce. With a youth unemployment rate that has more than doubled in the past decade, it is vital that we continue to invest in job opportunities for our at-risk teens. $4.3 million increase over the FY2022 Budget.
7002-1091: Career Technical Institutes
The House budget provides more than $20.4 Million to support the continued growth of the Career Technical Institute Initiative, an innovative plan to expand access to vocational technical education for high school students and adults. Career Technical Institutes build out industry recognized credentialing pathways in high-demand technical and trade fields to retrain and grow the workforce. These funds enable CTI vocational programs to provide three separate shifts of classes, allowing community members to take advantage of these programs outside traditional hours of work and school, as well as during the day. $5 million increase over the FY2022 Budget.
7003-0606: Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
The House budget provides $2 Million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The MassMEP is a collaborative center comprised of government, business, and academic partners that consults with small and medium sized manufacturers to support their operation. MassMEP provides services focused around helping manufacturing firms with operational matters, workforce strategies, and innovative growth opportunities. Level funded with FY2022 Budget.
7002-0040: Small Business Technical Assistance Grants
The House budget provides $30 Million for Small Business Technical Assistance Grants. These grants are administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation and provided to community organizations across the Commonwealth to fund technical assistance or training programs for small businesses. These funds continue the Legislature’s commitment to supporting the small businesses that keep our communities vibrant. $25 million is targeted towards businesses that are minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran-owned, or are focused on reaching underserved markets.$23 million increase over the FY2022 Budget.
7003-0150: Demonstration Workforce Development Program
The House budget provides $3.75 Million for the Demonstration Workforce Development program. This program is an initiative administered through the Commonwealth Corporation, focused on improving workforce outcomes among individuals returning to the workforce after a period of incarceration. $1.25 million increase over the FY2022 Budget.
7003-0105: Department of Economic Research
The House budget provides $600,000 to support the Department of Economic Research, as it builds out its staff to continue providing the much-needed workforce data and projections for the benefit of policymakers, workers, and employers. New budget item.
I also would like to highlight one initiative included in this budget that does not fall under the labor committee but is integral to issues we are working on in the committee and will have workforce development benefits.
5095-0017 and SECTION 6: Educators of Tomorrow
This budget revives the Educators of Tomorrow program with an allocation of $7.5 million. This program provides reimbursement for tuition, fees, and additional costs such as room and board for students at Massachusetts public colleges and universities who commit to teaching in a state public school for 4 years. Part of this will also be an outreach plan to attract individuals from underrepresented populations. Educational services are currently around 10,000 workers below pre-pandemic levels, and teacher turnover in the state has been at least 15% higher over the last two years compared to 2019. This program will play an important role in filling the education workforce pipeline. New budget item.
Rep. Josh S. Cutler
House Chair, Committee on Labor & Workforce Development