State Workforce Investment Board Posts State Plan for Public Comment Bookmark and Share

January 19, 2013

For Immediate Release: Jan. 19
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009, julie.rabinowitz@maine.gov

AUGUSTA—The State Workforce Investment Board has posted the new five-year plan that directs how the state’s federal funding under the Workforce Investment Act will be used. The plan, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, makes several changes to the current system and reflects Gov. LePage’s desire to make workforce development part of a larger strategy of economic development and job creation.

The plan reflects a review of years of data and an 18-month review of the current system. The SWIB determined that a restructuring of Maine’s workforce development system was necessary to increase the skills of our workforce and make it more responsive to Maine’s business community. The plan’s goal is to increase local business involvement and put more money into training for in-demand jobs.

“We have taken a hard look at our workforce development system,” said Fred Webber, chair of the State Workforce Investment Board, referred to as the SWIB. “The Governor’s desire to increase the amount of money going directly into training for in-demand jobs is the right step. This new plan means that more people will have better jobs, and businesses will have better access to and input into training programs.”

The new plan uses the current federal formula, meaning that the training dollars designated for each county will remain the same, but enhances Maine’s ability to apply for grants for additional funding to support specific types of training. It also will implement stricter policies that will increase fiscal accountability and ensure that all citizens have equal access to training programs no matter where they live.

Ultimately, more money will be put into job-specific skills training. Two years ago, the average percent of funds going towards skills training statewide was 15 percent; the changes implemented this past year have bumped the average up to about 20 percent. The plan sets a target of 40 percent at the end of the five years and uses incentives and new policy to push the system to reach that goal ahead of schedule.

The new, more responsive system will better represent and address emerging workforce needs. To facilitate local input, the SWIB will contract with the Chambers of Commerce across the state in eight economic regions (the same regions currently used by the chambers) to facilitate communication with the business community at the local level. This will foster a stronger connection to the private sector and local economic development activity. The chambers have been involved in the plan’s development.

Public comments, although not required for approval of the plan, will be considered by the SWIB in its submission of the plan to the U.S. Department of Labor. Members of the public and businesses are encouraged to review the plan and provide comment. Emails may be sent to SWIB.DOL@maine.gov until Jan. 29. The plan, along with an executive summary, can be viewed at http://www.maine.gov/swib/wia_plan.html . A short video that describes the plan and the need for change is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjl1sFdK8No .

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The proposal increases business input and directs more money into training for in-demand jobs