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- The Department of Labor calculates that 90% of the fastest growing jobs now require higher education, and economists predict that as many as two-thirds of all jobs in the future will require college-level training.
- The baby boomer generation will be retiring over the next twenty years, leaving huge gaps in the nation’s skilled labor force.
- This means that states must double and triple the number of youth who complete some education beyond high school and engineer new funding mechanisms to assist working age adults who need career training.
- Ethnic minorities are a rapidly escalating share of the labor force, and continue to achieve far lower academic proficiency than white students.
- Education and training providers are absorbing larger numbers of less prepared students at the same time that state and federal financing is declining.
- States and regions should expect federal funding to continue to decline as the government responds to global terrorism and health and retirement crises.
- There are large technology gaps as states do not have the technical expertise or funding to build performance data systems needed for E3 integration.
- Many public funding sources exist but are either silo’d or not directed toward these efforts
- Very little collaboration of funding sources across Dept. of Ed, State Workforce, State Economic Development dollars, etc.
- Many industry companies not aware of funding opportunities or connected to the groups (workforce boards) or discussions that drive appropriations of funds
- Funding is often annual – difficult to sustain a program if continued funding for personnel and materials is uncertain – but it can take many years to get a program up to the level of “respect” it needs to reach student capacity
- Funding agencies are not clearly focused on the needs of this industry
- Lack of targeted funding to address educational needs of new workforce
- Lack of public knowledge of diminishing workforce and importance of this particular high growth industry
- Lack of combined and leveraged funding from various agencies
Some possible examples of solutions
- Create a national consortium of federal and foundation funders to invest in national best-practice pilot projects that both accomplish national workforce goals and produce funding efficiencies. Acting together, a major organizations from the US Departments of Labor to the National Science Foundation to the Gates Foundation have more leverage to produce better outcomes and develop future funding models.
- Form public-private industry consortia supported by membership fees in which companies, community colleges, community organization, and workforce boards collectively support the development and delivery of new training programs.
- Form alliances among large companies and small companies to share training costs and access to a pool of qualified workers.
- Raise matching state and corporate funds to develop regional databases of labor market information to be shared on-liner among public and private partners.
- Reexamine conditions on federal funds to ensure that funding is tied to performance.
- Require community college resource sharing and other forms of regional collaboration.
- Have multi-year grant cycles as opposed to being driven by the legislative calendar (requires commitment of a portion of the funding for the following years though that total level of funding is uncertain)
- Elevate energy and construction workforce issues to those of target industries as defined by state economic development agency (in terms of awareness and ability to have funds directed toward efforts even if not a “target industry”)
- Bring the concept of WIRED one step further at a state level – harness dollars from workforce, education, and economic development for grant opportunities and shared accountability
- Connect and then write grants to Ford, Mott, Hitachi, etc. foundations to tap into the $64 million they are offering.
- Set up national or regional funding conferences to connect different ideas and funding sources.
- Partner with local and state Workforce Investment Boards to leverage monies
- Create meaningful partnerships with local workforce areas, community stakeholders, employers, educational providers, foundations, States, Department of Labor/Energy/Homeland Security to address issue and creating funding opportunities
- Work with employers to establish a funding pool (i.e., H-1B)
- Create an awareness among funders of the imminent need to focus attention on this high growth industry
URLs of the websites that could lead to solutions
- Florida Banner Center for Energy: http://www.workforceflorida.com/wages/wfi/banner_center_energy.htm
Salient points that will make each solution effective and or successful
- Public-private partnership necessary component to workforce education in the 21st century
- Federal and state funds must be targeted to achieve results
- Private funders are willing and able to partner with government and corporations to find comprehensive solutions
- The requirements for workforce development programs in these areas will not change annually, nor will the importance of this work change over the next 15+ years
- It may be required in each state that energy and construction be raised to a “Target Industry” status in order to be eligible to receive certain funding streams
- Industry resources will be most required in providing people, training/ apprenticeship opportunities, and equipment – have to document the actual cost of this type of resource and consider it as important as actual dollars – programs can absolutely not happen without this and these cannot be purchased elsewhere
- Acknowledge that there may exist limitations on how and for what the funds from the existing resources can be used. Identify examples, if they exist, where this has been overcome.