Communicate education and workforce data and information to stakeholders in an accessible way. Available information is not enough; states must also make available labor market information, including anticipated effects of disruption and associated skills gaps, to employers, regional workforce entities, education institutions and the general public. In addition to high level summary reports, states should consider making available state data machine-readable so that data scientists and analysts can develop innovative, predictive data tools.

State Program Examples

  • Tennessee

    Labor and Education Alignment Program

    In October 2020, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) released a report that highlights jobs in high demand across Tennessee, including occupations in finance and technology, , automotive, distribution and logistics, and other target industry clusters. The Labor and Education Alignment Program (LEAP) report calls attention to occupations that are strategically important to the growth of the state economy and to TNECD’s expansion and recruitment efforts. In addition, STEM occupations with high employer demand are also indicated throughout the report. The LEAP report seeks to assist local, regional and state policy decision-makers and outlines areas for increased alignment between education and industry. 

  • Virginia

    Regional Economic Dashboards

    In 2020, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission created a dashboard to track COVID-19 Economic Impacts in Virginia. The Dashboard displays state and county level total unemployment rates, number of unemployment claims and the percent of workers in “most vulnerable industries” based on potential for elimination of positions due to reduced economic activity in response to COVID-19. While this tool focuses primarily on industries negatively impacted by COVID-19, LMI could be similarly used to identify industries with job opportunities or occupations at risk of automation at the state and county level.  

  • Ohio

    Workforce Success Measures Dashboard

    To promote continuous improvement and inform investments across their workforce system, the Ohio Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation created the Workforce Success Measures Dashboard in 2017 to measure the success of workforce programs across the state. This tool features data that allows policymakers to assess how well programs help participants find employment, develop skills, enhance wages and provide value to business. In 2021, this resource will be enhanced to provide more granular and actionable information in a user-friendly interface so dislocated workers can make more informed decisions and quickly reconnect to the labor market in a high-quality job.

  • Missouri

    Social Impact Dashboards

    The Office of the Governor has led a cross-government data initiative that has resulted in a series of social impact dashboards that indicate the use of social services over time across each county. Since April, state agency leaders have developed ‘microcells’ or working groups that meet weekly to address geographic-, population- or industry-specific challenges identified through this dashboard. Through these groups, the state has been able to align state policy objectives and target resources toward urgent unmet needs including gaps in available childcare and shortages in the health care workforce

  • Iowa

    Metrics that Matter

    The Future Ready Iowa Alliance publishes annually Metrics That Matter, a report publishing progress toward the Governor’s postsecondary attainment goal that Iowans earn an additional 139,900 post-secondary credentials by 2025. This report includes metrics on the current skills gap including rates of educational attainment (including registered apprentices), data on high-demand jobs, average earnings, and employer-demanded skills across industries.

  • Colorado

    Talent Pipeline Report

    Senate Bill 14-205 was passed to require the Workforce Development Council, in partnership with other state and local agencies, to publish annually a report which explores issues related to the supply and demand of talent, and strategies for strengthening the state’s talent pipeline. The report also includes a series of recommendations to the Governor and the legislature, which are developed in accordance with the state’s postsecondary attainment goals. Since its creation in 2013, the report has led to more than thirty new bills becoming law.

  • Montana

    Statewide College Report

    In 2019, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (MTDLI) and Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education published a statewide college report to determine whether colleges are producing enough graduates to meet occupational demand. The report offers one of the nation’s most in-depth analyses of the supply and demand of Montana’s occupations and informs opportunities for new program development throughout the state college system. The report also offers a similar analysis for each region of the state to help identify any geographical disparities between supply and demand to inform projected shortfalls in certain occupations.

Gather qualitative and quantitative data on how state and local education and training programs are meeting local and regional workforce needs. The state facilitates data collection at the state and local levels to close the delta between program performance and workforce needs. Essential metrics include completion rates, employment, wages and retention among workforce participants.

State Program Examples

  • Washington

    Workforce Training Results and Performance Accountability

    Since its inception, the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board) has been charged in statute to evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s workforce programs. In an effort to gather qualitative and quantitative data on how state and local education and training programs are meeting local and regional workforce needs, Washington’s Workforce Board developed Workforce Core Measures - a common framework to measure workforce system progress. The system tracks the results and the taxpayer return on investment for 12 of the state’s largest workforce programs, accounting for over 98 percent of the federal and state dollars spent within the state workforce development system. Results WA, the states’ performance management system integrates performance management, continuous improvement, and cross-agency collaboration to achieve key goals and improve government effectiveness. In recent years, the Results WA has also held a Design Challenge as part of a broader statewide strategy to make government more user-centered.

Expand access to work-based learning (WBL) by granting credit for experiential learning, youth apprenticeship and dual enrollment. Governors can create opportunities for learners to engage in education that builds in-demand skills throughout their careers by investing in on-the-job training. These opportunities help to ensure that students are prepared for a specific job upon completion of their training and signal to employers that training is directly applicable to the tasks required. Expansion of work-based learning opportunities should be especially prioritized in high-demand, high-wage occupations that emerge due to technological disruption.

State Program Examples

  • New Hampshire

    STEM Dual Enrollment Program

    In 2017, New Hampshire passed legislation to establish the nation’s only STEM specific dual enrollment program. The law permits all juniors and seniors to participate in two STEM courses at the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), costing the State approximately $500,000 in 2018 and $1.4 million in 2019. The law also directs the State to pay the CCSNH college $250 for each approved course completed, at no expense to the sending school or student. In addition, the bill requires local school boards to adopt policies governing concurrent enrollment, and that all policies comply with the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.

  • Colorado

    Concurrent Enrollment for Apprenticeship and Internship Programs

    Concurrent enrollment grants high school students flexibility to earn college credits while still enrolled in a local school or education agency. In order to broaden access to and improve the quality of concurrent enrollment programs Colorado expanded its concurrent enrollment program in 2015 to allow students to count apprenticeship and internship programs toward credit. The state also established a tuition assistance program for students in CTE certificate programs to promote advanced skills training across priority industries throughout the state. According to the 2017-18 Annual Report on Concurrent Enrollment, nearly 35% of all 11th and 12th graders in public schools participated in concurrent enrollment in the 2017-18 academic year.

  • Texas

    Linking Adult Education with Work-based Learning

    A number of community colleges are using the Pell Grant eligibility category, Ability to Benefit (ATB) provision to offer adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent a supported transition to in-demand career pathways. This type of dual enrollment for adult learners incorporates contextualized learning by delivering concurrently Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses. Adult participants must be enrolled in an eligible career pathway which matches the skill needs of local industry, and in return, receive Pell funding, career counseling, and training within a recognized industry cluster. These programs can help non-degree holders and non-traditional students to gain access to federal assistance to earn their degree, as well as gain recognized postsecondary credentials and work experience. In partnership with education institutions, state leaders responsible for the development of their WIOA plans could consider the application of the ATB provision, and the definition of state career pathways for adult learners which would most greatly benefit. Leaders overseeing community college institutions or college systems could also consider initiating the use of ATB across their existing career pathway programs. The Texas Workforce Commission credits the inclusion of ATB as part of its Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) title II investment strategy as a key tool in exceeding its 2020 goal of engaging 20,000 adult learners in career pathways two years early.

  • Iowa

    Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning

    In 2019, Executive Order No. 1 charged the Iowa Clearinghouse Advisory Board with establishing a virtual clearinghouse by to expand high-quality, real-world work-based learning experiences for K-12 students. Iowa Governor Reynolds appropriated $250,000 to support the development of this clearinghouse, which is intended to support the state’s goal to have 70% of the workforce participate in post-secondary education or workforce training by 2025. The clearinghouse allows employers to publicize opportunities for work-based learning and serves as a one-stop resource for students and educators to search for and apply to work-based learning opportunities. States can consider creating similar platforms to increase utilization of work-based learning opportunities, allow employers to easily share opportunities with potential participants, and for students and educators to access information about opportunities all in one place.  

  • Indiana

    Graduation Pathways

    Indiana’s 2018 update to the state graduation requirements, Graduation Pathways, requires that every high school student, beginning with the class of 2023, must demonstrate ‘Employability Skills’. Through a project-based, service-based, or work-based learning experience, students must apply essential academic, technical and professional skills into their academic careers and demonstrate the Department of Workforce Development’s Employability Skills Benchmarks (or similar benchmarks). The development of the student product must satisfy the five categories of employability skills: 1. Mindsets; 2. Self-Management Skills; 3. Learning Strategies; 4. Social Skills; and 5. Workplace Skills.  Demonstrations of employability skills may occur over the course of a student’s high school career, and schools and districts may choose how to structure their Employability Skills experiences based on student interests. There are not a set number of hours for an Employability Skills experience, but rather it is incumbent upon schools and districts to ensure the experience has quality, scope, and value for the student.

  • Idaho

    Work-Based Learning Becomes a High School Graduation Requirement

    High-school students in Idaho have the opportunity to gain credit towards graduation from an approved work-based learning experience. Eligible work-based learning experiences include a training plan, training agreements, approved work sites, and supervision by appropriately certificated personnel.  Students who want to use work-based learning to gain credit towards graduation include it in their high-school learning plan and receive instruction that helps them to incorporate what they learn into their academic studies and into future career opportunities. States can expand the types of learning experiences that they count towards high-school graduation requirements in order to incentivize and recognize work-based learning opportunities. 

Build the capacity of state and local workforce investment boards to adequately represent and meet the evolving needs of industry. The state evaluates the effectiveness of state and local workforce boards, and then implements a plan to ensure that at-risk industries are represented and that boards have capacity to meet the evolving needs of the labor market.

State Program Examples

  • Indiana

    DOL Waiver to Establish Governor’s Workforce Cabinet

    Through a combination of state legislation and a federal waiver from the USDOL, Indiana established the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet in 2018. The Cabinet brings together state agency leaders from K-12, postsecondary, family and social services, economic development, workforce development, and corrections—along with employers, lawmakers and community leaders. The Cabinet’s mission is to address current and future education and employment needs of both individuals and employers, strengthen Indiana’s economy by integrating and aligning state and federal resources, and ensure a talent-driven education and workforce system.

  • Connecticut

    Executive Order to Modernize the State Workforce Council

    Governor Lamont signed Executive Order No. 4 in 2019 to replace the state workforce investment board with the Governor’s Workforce Council to improve state coordination among business, education and labor leaders and better represent the evolving needs of industry in policy development.

Create incentives for employers to invest in training their current workers with skills needed for the future. Many states provide tax incentives for employers who employ apprentices to promote private-sector investment in training. These incentives often alleviate some need for public training programs and allow more workers to access training that is directly tied to a specific career path. Governors and states could consider building on the success of these tax credit programs to expand incentives to specific, high-tech, high-demand industries.

State Program Examples

  • New Jersey


    In January 2021, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced $3.5M in funding through the UPSKILL: NJ Incumbent Worker Training Grant to encourage employers to offer advanced training to existing workers. The funds will be competitively awarded to employers to reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of training incumbent, frontline employees to meet current and future occupational skill requirements of high-wage, middle- and high-skill jobs. 

  • New York

    Pathways Pledge

    New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, during his 2021 State of the State Address, announced a proposal to create a Pathways Pledge for New York State Employers to foster more inclusive workforces and provide more workforce development opportunities. The pledge commits both public and private-sector employers to reforming their talent recruitment, investment, and promotion policies to help close equity gaps in employment, wages, and access to opportunity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixteen companies initially made the pledge, affecting over 120,000 workers in New York, and the state aims to triple those commitments in the next year. Key efforts of this initiative include promoting pathways for underrepresented populations in key industries and providing opportunities for upskilling that could lead to promotions for incumbent workers. The Pledge builds on Governor Cuomo's progress in advancing workforce development in New York State, including the existing $175Workforce Development Initiative. 

  • Indiana

    Next Level Jobs

    Indiana's Next Level Jobs program consists of the Workforce Ready Training Grant, which award students and employers funding to participate in or provide free short-term training in high-paying, in-demand industries. The Rapid Recovery for a Better Future initiative temporarily expands Next Level Jobs using $75 million of federal CARES Act funds. The expansion enables the Workforce Ready Grant to increase financial support for students up to $10,000, expand program eligibility and allow two- and four-year degree holders to participate. The expansion enables the Employer Training Grant to increase the amount eligible for reimbursement up to $100,000 per employer and dedicates at least $5 million to minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses.

  • California

    Employment Training Panel

    Since 1982, the Employment Training Panel has reimbursed employers for incumbent worker training. A recent evaluation found the program had significant positive impacts on employee wages, labor productivity, and the number of employees, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses. States could use programs such as this to help stimulate the recovery of small- and medium-sized firms and improve access to economic opportunities for workers.

  • Mississippi

    Employee Training Tax Credit 

    In order to incentivize advanced training for incumbent, low- and middle-skill workers, Mississippi employers receive a 50 percent tax credit for the costs of training an employee, up to $2,500 per employee per year.

  • Indiana

    Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grants

    Indiana's Workforce Ready Grants are facilitated through NextLevelJobs. These grants cover tuition and mandatory fees for eligible high-value certificate programs at Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, or other approved providers. The grant is available for two years and covers up to the number of credits required by the qualifying program. The qualifying high-value certificate programs were selected based on employer demand, wages, job placements and program completion rate. These programs are aligned with Indiana’s highest demand sectors:   Advanced Manufacturing Building & Construction Health Sciences IT & Business Services Transportation & Logistics   Another aspect of Next Level Jobs is Employer Training Grants. Under these grants, employers may qualify for reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee trained and retained for six months. Each employer may qualify for up to $50,000 per employer. Employers must submit an application, satisfy eligibility requirements and receive and sign a formal agreement obligating grant funding. Employers must offer occupational skills training directly correlated with in-demand jobs in our six high-growth job fields (Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, IT & Business Services, Building & Construction, Health & Life Sciences, and Transportation & Logistics). The training must be greater than 40 hours and ideally result in a stackable certificate or credential upon completion (onboarding training and informal job shadowing does not qualify). Additionally, the employer must ensure a wage gain at the completion of training for current employees trained to new skill sets; there is no current wage requirement for new hires trained. Employer Training Grants receive $20 million in funding through the state’s budget.   As Indiana endeavors to increase the number of Hoosiers with the skills to move into middle-skill jobs, state programming will be complimented with SNAP 50/50 funds. The state will allocate $500,000 of Employer Training Grant state funding for upskilling SNAP or TANF recipients, augmenting that funding with tuition reimbursements of $250,000 through SNAP 50/50 for supportive services and additional training for SNAP recipients. A dedicated $750,000 in blended state and federal funding apportioned toward increasing access to advanced opportunities for low-income workers will help benefit the state and employers. So far, nearly 11,000 Hoosiers have earned a certificate and more than 900 employers have benefited from Next Level Jobs.

  • Montana

    Apprenticeship Tax Credit

    Montana employers may apply for a tax credit for every new position hired where the worker is registered as an apprentice through the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program. The number of qualifying new hires is unlimited and is available to employers who file Montana income tax. Employers are encouraged to hire job seekers from a variety of underemployed populations, including SNAP participants, veterans, former felons, WIOA participants, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

  • Connecticut

    On-the-job Training Credit

    Connecticut employers may be credited 5% of their investment in on-the-job training thanks to a 2019 worker training tax credit.

  • Illinois

    Apprenticeship Tax Credit

    In 2020 Illinois began a new apprenticeship tax credit that covers up to $3,500 of qualified education expenses incurred by employers on behalf of a qualifying apprentice. To increase equity, an additional $1,500 credit may be awarded if the company’s principal place of business is in an underserved area or the qualifying apprentice resides in an underserved area.

  • Ohio


    In September of 2019, the Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation launched TechCred to give businesses the chance to upskill current and future employees in today’s technology-infused economy. The program reimburses employers up to $2,000 when an employee earns a short-term, industry-recognized, and technology-focused credential. After three application periods, 500 unique Ohio employers have been approved for reimbursement, which will result in the earning of up to 4,232 technology-focused credentials by Ohio employees.

Help employers navigate the workforce development system and the development of high-quality training programs. While navigators exist in American Jobs Centers to help jobseekers, employers often have less information on how to best partner with state and education partners to fill their talent pipelines. Some states have developed outreach programs to help employers build partnerships with the education community, specifically in the form of dual enrollment, work-based learning and apprenticeship programs. Other states have begun to introduce Employer Navigator programs to help employers navigate federal and state workforce development programs. To build in-demand career pathways for students and adult workers, states should consider ways to help employers develop and sustain training programs that align with statewide workforce goals.

State Program Examples

  • Nebraska

    Developing Youth Talent Initiative

    Launched by the Governor in 2015, Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) introduces middle school students to careers in industries such as manufacturing, information technology, engineering and healthcare. Each year, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) awards $250,000 in DYTI grants to for-profit, Nebraska-based companies, such as Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation, USA; CLAAS Omaha; and Nucor Detailing Center, to partner with area school districtsTogether, these consortiums implement programs to inform, engage, and inspire seventh- and eighth-grade students to explore careers in high demand throughout Nebraska. 

  • Idaho

    Talent Pipeline Management Initiative

    The Idaho Workforce Development Council has implemented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management Initiative statewide. Through this initiative, employers are developing and resourcing training pathways and are encouraged to develop competency-based job descriptions based on experience rather than credentials obtained. This helps ensure workers with a wider range of educational backgrounds have access to good jobs.

  • Connecticut

    Removing Barriers for Employer Engagement in the Talent Pipeline

    In 2019, Governor Lamont signed Executive Order No. 4 requiring the Governor’s Workforce Council to assess and recommend ways for the state to “remove barriers for employers to engage as partners in the creation of a talent pipeline they need to be successful, such as train-to-hire, and upskilling initiatives for incumbent workers”. This assessment is intended to allow training programs to be as responsive to employer needs as possible by engaging employers as partners. States should consider whether they have regulations that prevent or disincentivize employer engagement in any part of the talent pipeline development process. As part of its analysis, states may wish to engage a broad group of stakeholders including representatives from local workforce boards, the Chamber of Commerce, CTE Advisory Committees, labor unions, institutes of higher education, community colleges, and service providers.

  • Minnesota

    Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Project (MnAMP) Learn, Work, Earn Initiative

    The MnAMP Learn, Work, Earn Initiative includes a network of twelve colleges and two additional training centers across the state that offer a standardized core curriculum partnered by employer-driven apprenticeship in advanced manufacturing.  Participants in the program earn stackable, industry-recognized credentials at an educational institution while earning a wage and participating in on-the-job training in a high-demand, high-wage manufacturing occupation. This program serves primarily Trade Adjustment Assistance eligible workers and veterans and is funded through a TAACCCT grant. States can leverage federal grants to bolster partnerships between educational institutions and industry to prepare workers for careers in high-demand industries through industry-driven work-based-learning opportunities.

  • Nevada

    Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) Partnership with Tesla

    The Nevada Office of Workforce Innovation (OWINN) helped to establish a partnership between Truckee Meadows Community College and Tesla that has allowed them to work together to develop an apprenticeship program that allows community college students to engage in on-the-job training in high-tech occupations. TMCC is responsible for the administrative components of this program and the technical instruction and student supports. Tesla helps to inform the curriculum and provides relevant on-the-job training.  In addition to helping to establish the partnership, OWINN has also played a role in advertising the apprenticeship program. Governor Sisolak indicated this type of partnership as a priority in Nevada by appropriating $4 million in FY 2020 to support educational institutions that are partnering with local employers to provide work-based learning opportunities. To help build talent pipelines, states should consider ways to play a more prominent role as intermediary between regional education institutions and well-resourced state employers.

  • Kentucky

    Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY-FAME)

    Originally launched by Toyota, the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is a collaborative of employers who participate in and support Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways at more than 250 companies across 12 states. In Kentucky, a partnership of regional manufacturers implements dual track, apprenticeship-style training that creates a pipeline of highly skilled workers. Upon completion, these workers receive an Advanced Manufacturing Technician certification debt-free. To capitalize on the success of the program, former Governor Steve Beshear announced $24 million in General Fund–supported bonds to build an advanced manufacturing training center in partnership with local Bluegrass Community and Technical College. This leadership signaled the importance of collaboration with industry partners to increase opportunities for students and workers. 

  • Colorado

    CareerWise Colorado

    Colorado has gained national recognition for its leadership in creating a modern youth apprenticeship program that aims to engage 10% of Colorado’s high school youth in apprenticeship. CareerWise Colorado was created by Executive Order in 2015 and endorsed  by the state Business Experiential-Learning Commission to serve as the intermediary between schools, students and employers to guide stakeholders through the apprenticeship development process. Participating students complete an apprenticeship over three years which results in in-depth training skills as measured by a set of recognized credentials upon graduation. Employers see benefits from a higher return on investment than a traditional internship model since productivity increases over three years.   To establish and strengthen CareerWise, the Colorado General Assembly enacted the following enabling policies: Career pathways: HB 13-1165 and HB 15-1274 required community colleges, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Workforce Development Council, and the Department of Education, to design accessible career pathways in high-demand fields such as manufacturing and healthcare. Concurrent enrollment: granted high schools flexibility for students to count apprenticeship and internship programs as credit and established a tuition assistance program for students in CTE certificate programs. Guaranteed transfer: required statewide degree transfer agreements for transfer of associate degrees from one state IHE to another. Competency-based learning: revised the state’s graduation requirements, putting in place competency-based options, which hinge on students’ mastery of content rather than seat time. Incentives for experiential learning: HB 16-1289 encourage high school students to successfully complete career development course work. HB 19-216 allows participating districts to count the students enrolled in the experiential programs outlined in the district’s plan as full-time students, regardless of the actual amount of time the students may spend in the classroom further serving as an incentive for districts to participate in work based learning opportunities. Building on past success, the legislature is poised to pass HB 20-1002 which will streamline the state’s approach to prior learning credit recognizing that work based learning carries not only skills but should also count towards credit towards higher education degree attainment. CareerWise then began by working with the legislature to articulate the first tier of career pathways available to students based on industry demand: advanced manufacturing, information technology, financial services, business operations and health care. Between 2017 and 2019, the Colorado program successfully scaled from 25 participating schools and 40 employers to 50 participating schools working with over 100 employers statewide.

  • Minnesota


    When the Minnesota Legislature established its training initiative, Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience (PIPELINE), its first step was to organize stakeholders into Industry Councils to put employer voices at the center of program development. The Department of Labor and Industry convened an Industry Council for priority industries and conducted three meetings between August 2013 and November 2014. This process helped the state to recognize that while industry representatives valued their role in validating competencies for identified occupations, they had limited information on how to participate in training programs that aligned with statewide workforce goals. In 2015, the state used this information to expand the PIPELINE project to offer Dual-Training Consulting to disseminate training resources for employers and employees, including information on program development, grants and a statewide network of industry PIPELINE partners.

Communicate to employers the return on investment of incumbent worker training as an evidence-based method for workforce development. Although many states maintain strong partnerships with employers, the piloting of new training programs can be costly barriers for some employers to engage in upskilling their workforces. As many employers are facing rapid changes to their workplaces, states may wish to demonstrate the potential value of partnership to engage employers more meaningfully. To quantify the value of these training opportunities, return-on-investment (ROI) studies may be useful, in addition to social marketing campaigns targeted toward employers and learners.

State Program Examples

  • Maryland

    Youth Apprenticeship Ambassador Program

    The Maryland Youth Apprenticeship Ambassador Program was launched in December 2018 by the Maryland Department of Labor. This program highlights youth apprentices and the businesses hiring youth apprentices as Youth Apprenticeship Ambassadors to raise awareness about apprenticeship opportunities and motivate other employers and youth to participate. Ambassadors are selected by the Secretary of Labor for their commitment to the growth of youth apprenticeship and agree to support outreach activities and events within their community to raise awareness and engage stakeholders on the value of engaging youth in meaningful on the job training activities and related instruction.

  • Oregon

    Apprenticeship Return on Investment Calculator

    Registered Apprenticeship is an important investment with costs and benefits to potential employers. Oregon recognized an opportunity to communicate the value of this training and developed an online tool to help employers estimate the potential costs and benefits of employing apprenticeships. The tool is run by The State Employment Department and was funded by a grant from the USDOL Employment and Training Administration. States may wish to look toward cost-sharing with one another by crowdsourcing their regional data into one online platform and sharing with their constituents through public media campaigns.

Incentivize regional partnerships to build talent pipelines for high-growth industries. States should consider using data to identify in-demand skills sets of high-growth industries, and then conduct outreach to build regional workforce partnerships to fill essential talent pipelines. When successful, these partnerships can inform state education curricula and expand learning requirements for pre- and youth-apprenticeship programs, as well as improve the promotional outcomes of incumbent workers. Over time, these strategies can help states to develop sustainable hiring pipelines for a broad range of workers, including youth and underrepresented or low-income workers.

State Program Examples

  • California

    High Road Training Partnerships

    The High Road Training Partnerships (HRTP) initiative is a $10demonstration project by the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to advance both upward mobility and economic competitiveness by developing industry training partnerships with “high road” employers that offer quality jobs. The CWDB defines a quality job as one that provides family-sustaining wages, health benefits, pension programs, advancement opportunities and collective worker input, and that is stable, predictable, safe and free of discrimination. The HRTP Roadmap to Job Quality also articulates the role of workers, employers, worker organizations, and communities in advancing job quality. 

  • Tennessee

    Tennessee Talent Exchange

    The Tennessee Talent Exchange is a partnership established in 2020 between Hospitality TN, Tennessee Retail and the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Association. The exchange helps place workers displaced from the hospitality industry as a result of COVID-19 into positions in grocery, retail and logistics industries through an online platform called Jobs4TN.

  • Oregon

    High-Tech Employment Partnership

    The Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) is the primary convener of high-tech employers in Oregon and partners with the Lane Workforce Partnership, the designated local workforce investment board. This partnership creates a direct line of communication between tech employers and the workforce board in order to better respond to the evolving workforce needs of the local tech sector. This partnership has led to increased local investment in scholarships for high-tech education and on-the job training contracts with high-tech employers. To build the workforce of the future, states and local workforce boards should consider ways to better represent the interests of the tech sector in order to better inform investment in training and other workforce development programs.

  • Texas

    Created the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative

    In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed transformative school finance legislation in House Bill 3 to reform education and shape the future of the Texas workforce. To fully implement the vision of House Bill 3 in 2020, Governor Abbott charged the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative to marshal the resources toward streamlining implementation of the legislation and identifying solutions for long-term workforce needs across the state. This builds on the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, which was established in 2016, when Governor Abbott established the initiative and tasked the Commissioners of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to work collectively together toward five objectives to develop stronger links between education and industry. At that time, Agency Commissioners together held regional meetings across Texas with the public, as well as leaders from education, industry, government, and nonprofits to understand the state’s workforce needs at a regional level. The direction of this partnership from the governor has since created a strong alliance between the agencies.

  • Colorado

    NextGen Partnerships

    Colorado is home to 30 active sector partnerships that engage employers of all sizes across 79% of the state to increase local alignment between secondary, postsecondary and workforce programs. As of 2019, the Colorado Workforce Development Council reported that 83% of sector partnerships experienced joint or shared decision-making across membership organizations, leading to an increase in the number of individuals entering high-demand career pathways throughout the state.

  • Idaho

    Industry Sector Grants Program

    In 2017, former Idaho Governor Otter shifted responsibility for the state’s Workforce Development Training Fund (WDTF) to the Idaho Workforce Development Council to more effectively meet industry needs. The WDTF has been expanded to encourage industry sector and innovation grants which require partnerships among employers, training providers and community organizations to solve local workforce challenges. In addition, an outreach project category was added to the eligible uses of the WDTF to increase public awareness of and access to career education and workforce training.

  • Iowa

    Legislation Requiring Localized Alignment of Training and Services

    In order to promote more robust partnerships between education providers and industry, Iowa enacted S.F. 2353 in 2018. This legislation requires local workforce boards to align employment, training education and supportive services in high-demand industries.

Create a 529c Continuous Learning Household Account that combines public, employer and individual funding for continuous, lifelong learning. States looking to offer learners a wider variety of education finance tools may consider adapting existing 529 education accounts to deliver “529(c) continuous learning household accounts”. These accounts could allow individuals, employers, and public programs to jointly invest in providing flexible money for members of a household to pursue training. Potential sources of funds include: public funds (e.g. WIOA, SNAP employment and training support, TANF supports, Unemployment Insurance); employer funds (e.g. WIOA credits, education benefits such as 529 contributions and employer-paid tuition assistance); and individual funds (e.g. zero- or low-interest rate loans, ability-to-benefit funds). Like traditional 529 accounts or Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs), these would not be designed to serve as long-term savings vehicles but rather, designed for limited returns to encourage workers to regularly use their funds continuously throughout their careers. Relevant issues for policymakers to consider with this option include guarding against fraud and ensuring targeted marketing of these programs are toward lower-wage workers.

State Program Examples

No examples to share at this time. Please check back later.

Mitigate the displacement of vulnerable workers by encouraging employers to offer wrap-around services that promote retention and job quality. Too often, a lack of child care, poor health, unreliable transportation and acute need for emergency financial assistance represent significant barriers to maintaining employment, leading to lower wage work and fewer opportunities for advancement. Automation threatens to displace lower skilled workers, and governors will need to place an emphasis on the value of high job quality, including ensuring every worker has their foundational needs met. To protect these workers, some states have responded by working closely with employers to offer on-site supportive services and financial assistance to all employees.

State Program Examples

  • Massachusetts

    Reinventing Work Initiative

    The Reinventing Work Initiative (RWI) is a collaboration between the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts’ quasi-public workforce development agency within the Executive Office for Labor and Workforce Development to advance employer-driven job quality improvements. The RWI defines job quality as a “bundle of characteristics beyond wage related to paid employment,” including consistency of hours, employer-provided benefits, commute, autonomy, worker voice and potential for advancement. The goal of the initiative is to create a sustainable approach to enhancing job quality by engaging employers to change how they think about their role in promoting job quality.

  • Virginia

    Grants to Facilitate Employability for Underserved Populations

    Under Governor Northam’s leadership, Virginia’s workforce development system has been reoriented to specifically target historically underserved populations and advance the cause of economic equity. To strengthen the partnership between each local workforce development area and their Department of Social Services district offices, in 2019, the Governor also awarded $1.3 million in grants to facilitate easier access the full spectrum of services aimed at increasing employability. According to the Governor, “these grants will ensure every Virginian has an opportunity to participate in our growing economy, support their family and hold better futures in the state.

  • Vermont

    Working Bridges Employer Collaborative

    To improve job retention, the United Way of Chittenden County convened “Working Bridges”, an employer-led collaborative that funds on-site coordinators to provide supportive services to employees, including education and social service referrals, tax preparation, and transportation. These coordinators are shared across the collaborative’s employer locations and are responsible for developing financial education workshops and ensuring that employment policies including work and leave policies are aligned with the needs of local employees. Working Bridges has also partnered with local banks to develop a savings mechanism for lower income workers, which deduct from future paychecks a monthly amount which receives a match from employers to help employees cover emergency expenses. The United Way funds the program and requires that collaborative employers contribute a match to support the resource coordinator. States and local workforce boards could consider incentivizing these types of offerings by introducing a tax credit similar to the Workforce Training Credit, which credits all matched funds and employer fees to participate in the collaborative.

  • Iowa

    Employer Innovation Fund

    In 2018, Governor Reynolds announced the Employer Innovation Fund, a $400,000 employer matching grant designed to strengthen the regional talent pipeline and achieve the states postsecondary attainment goal. The Innovation Fund prioritizes investments in helping employers carry out solutions to help their employees achieve training and education in high-demand occupations, including expansion of work-based learning opportunities, targeted outreach to underrepresented populations, and wrap-around support programs. Annually, the Governor announces a request for proposals from employers, community leaders and other stakeholders to implement a creative solution to their local workforce needs. Applicants are eligible to receive up to $50,000 from funds appropriated to Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and must match grant funds with funds raised privately.

Encourage employers to offer flexible work arrangements or paid leave so that workers have time to participate in lifelong learning. The state incentivizes employers to offer flexible scheduling arrangements or employer-supported leave to employees (permanent, probationary or trainee) to participate in job- or career-related study for in-demand skills.

State Program Examples

No examples to share at this time. Please check back later.

Offer those incarcerated opportunities to learn technology skills they need to successfully transition back into the labor market. One in four formerly incarcerated people who are looking for work cannot find a job, even as the national unemployment rate is less than 4 percent (PPI 2018). Even for those who do find work, jobs are often precarious and low-wage (Brookings 2018). States are taking action to help connect the formerly incarcerated to the services they need, to help reintegrate people into working society.

State Program Examples

  • North Carolina

    Work Release Training Programs for Inmates

    North Carolina allows eligible inmates at some minimum-security prisons to pursue on-the-job training via a work release program at local businesses. Through this program inmates are allowed to leave the prison facility for the duration of the workday. All participants are paid at least minimum wage and wages may be used to pay restitution and fines, family support, release transportation costs, and for savings upon release. This program is operated through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and is in line with the state’s reentry action plan.

  • Multi-State

    The Last Mile (TLM)

    The Last Mile is a non-profit that works with the incarcerated in California to train the incarcerated on coding and entrepreneurial skills. Thus far, the recidivism rate for graduates of TLM is zero.

Download The Full Guide

The State Guide for Preparing the Future Workforce Now provides details of how governors are leading public and private partners across all pathways to transform their education and workforce systems.

  • Roadmap for Systems Change

    Employ a tested set of best practices for your state.

  • See State Case Studies

    Discover what other states are doing now to prepare.

Download the Full Guide
Workforce report