The budget passed by the Legislature represents a serious and committed effort to help the economy recover in the short term and ensure that our workforce has the skills, tools and training needed to succeed in the Commonwealth’s post-pandemic economy.
I would like to highlight some key labor and workforce development provisions in the final budget passed by both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature 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.
7002-0012: Job Program for At-Risk Youth (YouthWorks) The final budget provides $24 Million to Youth Works. This program is administered by the Department of Career Services and provides subsidized job opportunities for low-income and at-risk youth aged 14-21 in over 31 cities across the Commonwealth. Despite the pandemic, Youthworks was able to provide paid opportunities for over 5,000 youth 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 million increase over FY2021 Budget.
7003-0803: MassHire Career Centers The final budget provides $9.5 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. $4.5 million increase over FY2021 Budget.
1595-1075: Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund: The final 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, focusing 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 FY2021 Budget.
7002-1091: Career Technical Institutes The final budget provides $15.3 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. With the additional funds, vocational programs will be able to open two additional shifts of classes. The first new shift will allow students enrolled in comprehensive high school programs to take vocational courses after their school day is over. The second additional shift will be focused on adult-learners seeking skills and certifications in a number of high demand industries. $11,379,600 increase over FY2021 Budget.
7003-0606: Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership The final 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 FY2021 Budget.
7002-0040: Small Business Technical Assistance Grants The final budget provides $7 Million for Small Business Technical Assistance Grants. These grants are administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation 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. $1.875 million increase over FY2021 Budget.
7003-0150: Former Prisoner Re-Entry Workforce Development The final budget provides $2.5 Million for the Prisoner Re-Entry Workforce Development program. The Re-Entry Workforce Development 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. $1.5 million increase over FY2021 Budget.
I also would like to highlight three initiatives included in this budget that do not fall under the labor committee, but are integral to issues we are working on in the committee and will have workforce development benefits.
Offshore Wind Initiative (Outside Sections 11 & 105) The final budget creates a brand new Offshore Wind Energy Career Training Fund, seeded with $13 Million to fund initial grants. This fund will provide grants for technical training programs and professional certificate programs tailored towards careers in offshore wind energy. The fund will also provide grants to adult- and community-learner programs, labor groups, public institutions of higher education, and vocational technical schools to provide paid internships and career training in the offshore wind industry. As Massachusetts is poised to be a nationwide leader in offshore wind, the Commonwealth needs to build a workforce pipeline capable of building and maintaining this important industry.
Disability Hiring Tax Credit (Outside Sections 29 & 37) The final budget creates a new one-time refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for businesses for hiring a person with a disability, as well as an annual refundable credit of up to $2,000 for employing a person with a disability. This tax credit will create incentives for new hiring and help ensure individuals with disabilities are not left behind in the post-pandemic recovery.