Develop onramps to technological resilience by offering all citizens access to technology training. In the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered barriers to entry for digital startups, the democratization of the tools required to design and prototype physical products could be used by states to build digital and technical skills. States can consider ways to provide all individuals access to tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machining outside of the traditional K-16 learning environment by investing in partnerships with public libraries and private industry.

State Program Examples

  • Hawaii

    Workforce Resiliency Initiative Plan *NEW*

    The Hawai'i Workforce Development Council (WDC) set a goal to  to upskill 200,000 people (approximately 30 percent of the total workforce) with basic digital literacy skills, problem-solving and other soft skills, and access to more advanced online training courses by 2022. To achieve this goal, the 2020 Workforce Resiliency Initiative Plan created a baseline training infrastructure, established statewide objectives for digital skill curriculum and a new, centralized repository of resources and information for digital training using WIOA funds. The state also launched new partnerships with local libraries, community colleges and credentialing platforms including Coursera, Microsoft Skilling Initiative, LinkedIn Learning and Amazon Web Services. The WDC plans to seek additional funding from private and public organizations over the next three years to sustain this effort.

  • Maine

    Digital Inclusion Initiative *NEW*

    The Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative is a partnership between the National Digital Equity Center, University of Maine System and the Maine State Library and aims to expand digital literacy services to traditionally underserved populations and to provide employment-related education and technology training to older adults. The Maine Office of Adult Education uses Northstar Digital Literacy assessments to evaluate participants’ technological skills before and after participation in training programs.

  • Arizona

    AZ LibTAP *NEW*

    A team of librarians from five different libraries, with support from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records launched a collaborative initiative, AZ LibTAP, to provide one-on-one tech support services over the phone. This approach is modeled after the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s Digital Navigators model, whereby navigators are equipped to address the whole digital inclusion process — home connectivity, access to devices, and digital skills — through one-on-one support and repeated interactions if needed.

  • Washington

    Microsoft LinkedIn Learning Program

    The Microsoft LinkedIn Learning program (formerly known as the Microsoft Imagine Academy) provides online learning pathways for the most in-demand, future-forward IT careers with resources to build skills and knowledge that prepare learners for industry-recognized certifications. Operated by LinkedIn, this online learning platform offers video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. The Washington State Library (WSL), a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, funds a statewide subscription to LinkedIn Learning, underwritten by discounts from Microsoft, and made possible through Legislative appropriation. Resources are provided through the WSL’s Central Library and facilitated by the state’s Institutional and Correctional Center Libraries, as well as public and tribal libraries, and community and technical colleges across the state, ensuring accessibility for all residents. The program also allows individuals to test locally at library and other community center locations throughout Washington at no cost.

  • Pennsylvania

    PA Smart Initiative

    In 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf launched the PASmart initiative to prepare students and workers for good careers in emerging and high-growth industries. Over two years, PAsmart is providing $70 million to promote computer science and STEM education in K-12 schools, expand registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, and support Next Generation industry partnerships.  The governor’s office also launched the PAsmart website to help residents identify the tools and resources they need to make education, training, and career decisions. Like other states, Pennsylvania is also exploring strategies to prepare for the Future of Work building off its participation in the NGA On-Demand Workforce Consortium.

Extend paid family and medical leave to members of the state workforce. As of April 2020, eight states and DC have approved legislation to create paid family and medical leave insurance programs. However, the vast majority of states and workplaces still have no paid family policies, including for members of the state workforce. Paid leave offers important benefits to both employees and employers including the reduction of illness, increased productivity, increased women’s labor force attachment and overall positive impacts on state GDP. States can provide leadership to the private sector by offering family leave policies which do not require individuals to choose between familial duties and participation in the labor market.

State Program Examples

  • Indiana

    Paid Family Leave for State Employees

    In 2018, Governor Holcomb signed an Executive Order offering full-time state employees employed for at least six months 150 hours of paid family leave, and part time employees up to 75 hours. States can provide leadership to the private sector by offering family leave policies which do not require individuals to choose between familial duties and participation in the labor market.

Model the value of racial equity by removing barriers and increasing equitable workforce outcomes for people of color in state government. The state implements pipeline development programs to further workforce equity in government with opportunities for advancement and strong retention and promotion rates for staff of color.

State Program Examples

  • Virginia

    State Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

    In 2019, Governor Northam became the first governor to appoint a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the State of Virginia. This cabinet-level position is responsible for developing a sustainable framework to promote inclusive practices across state government, including the implementation of a strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices.

  • Oregon

    Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

    In Oregon, the Metro Regional Government convened stakeholders to develop a collaborative Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, to advance equity throughout the city, including city workforce training and hiring.

Establish and improve access to individual savings accounts for education and training. Because the education system was designed predominately for younger students pursuing four-year degrees, mid-career workers often struggle to develop new skills at an affordable cost. In order to help individuals finance continuous lifelong learning, multiple states and countries have introduced new mechanisms to help individuals save for educational expenses, such as 529 plans. Other promising practices are modeled after retirement co-investment, whereby employers and employees are incentivized to co-invest in an account for lifelong education and training. In developing similar financial tools, states should consider ways to ensure that funding always stays with the individual, regardless of the person’s current employer or employment status.

State Program Examples

  • Utah

    529 Savings Program

    Utah has simplified saving for educational expenses by allowing individuals to opt into sending their state tax refund directly to a 529 account. Allocations are eligible for a 5% tax credit up to $2,000 per single beneficiary and up to $4,000 per joint beneficiary. This contribution can go into an existing account or will prompt the tax filer to create a new account. This option and incentive bring awareness to the 529 savings account as an option and facilitates an easy way to leverage irregular income from an annual tax return to invest for future educational expenses.

  • Colorado

    CollegeInvest Matching Grant, Scholarship, and FirstStep Program

    Many states offer matching grants to 529 account contributions up to a certain amount for qualifying families. For example, Colorado’s CollegeInvest matches investments for qualifying low-middle income residents with a beneficiary under the age of 13 up to $500 each year for up to 5 years. In addition to the matching grant, CollegeInvest provides a $2,000 scholarship for any full-time student who is a Colorado resident meets certain income requirements and who has had a CollegeInvest account maintained in their name for at least two years. These scholarships are renewable each year for a total of up to four years or a total of $8,000.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2020, a $100 contribution is granted to each child born or adopted in the state of Colorado to be claimed by their guardian within 5 years. Guardians who choose to claim the account then have full access to contribute to the account and are eligible to participate in complimentary financial literacy education. CollegeInvest is a non-profit housed within the Colorado Department of Education and is a self-funded enterprise.  The contribution matching, participant scholarships and FirstStep program through CollegeInvest all help to supplement family’s savings for educational expenses.

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 *NEW*

    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, 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.

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.

Encourage postsecondary education providers to offer wraparound supports for students at greatest risk of dropping out. The state and higher education develop and deliver services to address the many factors that can make it difficult for some students to consistently engage in school, such as limited access to housing, child care, food access, transportation and academic support.

State Program Examples

  • Rhode Island

    Rhode Island Reconnect *NEW*

    In early 2020, the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner launched Rhode Island Reconnect (RI Reconnect) to connect participants with educational navigators who help them set goals and guide them through the process of returning to school or job training. When COVID-19 led to significant increases in unemployment, the Governor’s Workforce Board, which sits within the Department of Labor and Training, identified RI Reconnect as a promising model to build upon to help connect people with the resources and support they need to succeed in training they need to reenter the labor market as part of Back to Work RI.

  • Wisconsin

    Regional Apprenticeship Coordinators

    In 1999, the Wisconsin legislature passed a bill funding regional apprenticeship coordinators to increase access to work-based learning opportunities for all students. Regional partnerships comprised of one or more school districts, public agencies, non-profits, business leaders and other entities are invited to apply annually for grants up to $900 per student, which must be matched at 50% to fund the implementation and coordination of local youth apprenticeship programs including local and regional youth apprenticeship coordinators. These coordinators are responsible for conducting outreach to educators, families and students youth apprenticeship opportunities, building employer momentum for apprenticeship in the state, and help match students and regional employers in 11 high-demand career clusters. In the 2018 – 2019 academic year, roughly 3,680 employers and 5,100 students from 394 high schools participated in the program. This program has been recognized as a model for serving students with disabilities and at-risk youth.

  • Georgia

    Georgia State University Forecasts Service Needs of Students

    In education, learning analytics fueled by student data is used to develop early warning systems to help learning institutions identify when a student might need extra support to succeed in school. Georgia State University has introduced the use of predictive data analysis to forecast what students may need in advising, course scheduling, and financial stability and wellness. This information allows the university to be proactive in addressing student needs and to be prepared to support students to encourage consistent enrollment and academic success.  This information also allows for these services to be intentionally targeted at students who will benefit from them the most. Some of the changes that this approach has inspired include accommodating working students by offering more courses at night and introducing financial literacy training for students. As states seek to implement similar models to increase persistence and graduation rates and decrease degree costs, they should consider opt-out policies to protect student privacy and proactively develop policies that minimize algorithmic bias.

  • California

    Credit-Bearing “Stretch” Courses

    California State University (CSU) has begun replacing noncredit remedial prerequisite courses with credit-bearing, “stretch” courses that come with additional tutoring/mentoring support. In 2019 CSU began using high-school grades, rather than standardized placement tests, to assess students’ developmental needs and place them in appropriate courses.  This approach allows California students to forgo some non-credit bearing remedial work and start earning credit when they arrive on campus while receiving the support that they need to be successful in their coursework.

Mitigate permanent displacement from the workforce for those with family obligations. In six out of every ten two-parent households with children under twelve, both adults are employed, and one in two working parents has passed up a job opportunity due to family obligations. For these families, child care remains an essential support to ensuring that both parents are able to maintain, and succeed, in the local workforce. In 2019, governors from 49 states collectively announced $2.9 billion in new early education investments. In addition to direct investments to increase per pupil spending, other options for governors to encourage quality affordable family care include: (a) calling on employers to define best practices and commit to action; (b) working with the legislature to pass paid family leave and paid sick leave; (c) modeling best practices in the public workforce and with state contractors; and (d) braiding federal funds (such as Perkins V and Child Care Development Block Grants) to support family care needs. Although employer tax credits have been a popular policy in some states, research indicates that these policies do not lead to widespread changes in business practices because participation is employer-dependent and are more likely to benefit higher-earning employees. In the age of technology disruption, states should take action by passing inclusive policies which offer all families, including those playing caregiving roles, the opportunities to remain in the labor market despite family obligations. State leaders have a unique position to develop bold solutions which offer affordable family care that benefit the families in their states and to serve as a testing ground for improving federal policies.

State Program Examples

  • Vermont

    Child Care Program Financial Support for Providers *NEW*

    In 2020, Governor Phil Scott created a fund to provide childcare for essential workers and ensure childcare providers can pay their bills—including employee wages, rent and utilities—during the pandemic. Using a combination of state and federal funding, the fund the revenue childcare providers normally receive from families and publicly-funded childcare subsidies. This dedicated childcare stabilization fund ensures that when the economy reopens, parents will have the childcare they relied on before the pandemic. Launched in April 2020, the program covers 50 percent of a family’s weekly tuition or subsidy copayment and continues to pay childcare subsidies.

  • Washington

    Child Care Access Now Act (CAN Act)

    In 2019, Washington’s legislature passed the CAN Act with bipartisan support. The act is intended to create a comprehensive state vision for state-level child care reform that simultaneously addresses child care affordability, quality, and workforce compensation. The Child Care Collaborative Task Force will identify policies that would achieve the state’s vision and make recommendations to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Other measures passed in 2019 include allowing participants in Working Connections to count participation in workforce training programs as meeting their work requirements to qualify for child care.

  • Oregon

    Twelve Weeks of Paid Family Leave

    In 2019, Governor Brown signed into law HB 2005, creating the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Program. FAMLI requires employers to offer workers with twelve weeks of paid leave, including 100 percent wage replacement for minimum wage workers with benefits capped at 120% of the state average weekly wage. The new law also allows individuals the ability to define their own family, enabling those who serve as caregivers to also receive benefits. Funding for the FAMLI Program is provided by a payroll tax and is administered by the Director of the Employment Department. Employers are required to contribute 40 percent of the total rate set, with the remaining to be deducted from employee wages. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from their contribution.

Remove obstacles to participating in work and learning by closing gaps in access to medical and mental health care, including for those recovering from substance use disorders. The state builds an ecosystem where every individual, including those with disabilities and a history of substance abuse, are able to realize financial self-sufficiency, and to recapture the dignity of being a working member of society.

State Program Examples

  • New Hampshire

    Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative 

    New Hampshire found that 66 percent of the costs of untreated addiction in the Granite State were due to lost productivity and absenteeism at work. In response, Governor Sununu led the “Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative” to incentivize employers to provide support to New Hampshire residents in recovery. The state secured a U.S. Department of Labor grant aimed at helping those in recovery reenter the workplace, and as a match, allocated $1 million to educate employers in evidence-based practices that demonstrably reduce substance misuse in the workplace, offer specialized training for human resources personnel, and promote the hiring of those undergoing treatment. The State Workforce Innovation Board also granted funds to the initiative and served as navigators for local employers to serve workers in recovery. Other states have developed similar programs and applied their Vocational Rehabilitation funds to serve those in recovery and reentering the workforce.

  • Montana

    Medicaid Expansion

    In 2019, Montana Governor Bullock signed into law HB 0658, thereby expanding the state’s Medicaid program to serve nearly 100,000 low income adults. The expansion will cost the state approximately $16 million over the next two years, which will be paid for by a new tax on Montana hospitals.

Expand access to portable benefits to on-demand workers who are at a greater risk of becoming under skilled. The state promotes labor market dynamism by replacing the outdated workplace-sponsored benefits model with portable benefit models that enables workers to control and keep benefits as they move from job to job or become self-employed. To accomplish this, states should consider which benefits are a priority, who will be eligible, how they will be funded and which entity will be responsible for administration.

State Program Examples

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Promote learning and work opportunities for all workers by investing in broadband and entrepreneurship hubs. The state invests in a comprehensive approach to fostering innovation, developing human capital, using local institutions and infrastructure and accessing investment capital to help the entrepreneurial economy thrive in all communities, including rural towns.

State Program Examples

  • Pennsylvania

    One-Stop Shop for Entrepreneurs

    In 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf launched the PA Business One-Stop Shop as the sole source for guiding entrepreneurs and small businesses through all stages of development. This One-Stop consolidated several difficult-to-navigate programs serving businesses, from planning and startup to operation and expansion. The program was developed through a partnership between the departments of State, Labor and Industry, Revenue, the Office of Administration, and the Department of Community and Economic Development.

  • West Virginia

    Governor’s School of Entrepreneurship

    In 2015, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin created the Governor’s School of Entrepreneurship (WVGSE), one of several summer programs designed to promote study of the arts, science, academics and business. WVGSE, a free summer program established through the West Virginia Department of Education and West Virginia University, is a three-week boot camp for 50 high school students that offers students the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills. Young innovators are thrown into an “accelerator” atmosphere where they learn about business models, design thinking, startup ventures and then given the chance to pitch their ideas and actually launch a business venture.

  • Minnesota

    Creation of Entrepreneurial Hubs

    In the town of Red Wing, leaders partnered with the Center on Rural Innovation to raise local funds to match an U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) i6 Challenge Grant to fund a $1.7 million regional effort to support entrepreneurs and talent development across an 11-county region in rural Southeast Minnesota. This project expects to advance 30 emerging entrepreneurs, meet the talent needs of 15 employers, and prepare 75 students for the future workforce.

Expand access to worker protections. The state ensures that all workers, including those in non-traditional work arrangements have access the protections and rights that are awarded to many workers under federal regulation like Fair Labor Standards Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act.

State Program Examples

  • New York

    Self-Employment Assistance Program 

    The New York State Department of Labor’s Self Employment Assistance Program (SEA), provides the aspiring entrepreneur with the needed tools and resources to start their own small businesses. This program seeks to enable those interested in self-employment to work toward that goal with the help and guidance of business professionals, as well as the financial support of continuing weekly Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Delaware, Mississippi and Oregon operate similar programs.

  • New Mexico

    Domestic Service in Minimum Wage Act

    Workers in non-traditional work arrangements, including domestic work, are often excluded from certain worker protections and benefits under statute. In 2019 the New Mexico legislature passed the Domestic Service in Minimum Wage Act to expand the state minimum wage and overtime laws to domestic and home care workers in the state, who were previously exempt.  The law requires that “every person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, receiver or other officer of the court of this state and any agent or officer of any of the above-mentioned classes employing any person in this state” pays any domestic worker at least the minimum wage. This regulation is enforced by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. States can examine their worker protections to identify types of workers that may not be covered and revise those protections to ensure those in non-traditional work arrangements are included.

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