State Submits Workforce Investment Act State Plan and State Workforce Investment Board Waiver Request to U.S. Department of Labor Bookmark and Share

September 17, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2012 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

AUGUSTA--Workforce development funds must become part of a larger strategy of economic development and job creation, and the plan and waiver request submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor this week by the LePage Administration seeks to make that happen.

Because Gov. LePage has placed a priority on getting Maine citizens back to work, the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) has reviewed the current system and determined that a restructuring of Maine’s workforce development system is required to increase the skills of our workforce and make it more relevant to Maine’s business community.

The State Workforce Investment Board has developed a plan to eliminate a layer of administrative costs while increasing local input into the workforce development process. The restructuring also reassigns the administrative duties of the current four regional workforce investment boards to one board at the state level to reduce overhead.

This realignment will use the same federal formula to allocate training dollars to each county, while enhancing Maine’s ability to apply for statewide or targeted grants for additional funding to support specific regions or types of training.

The new, more agile and responsive system will better represent and address emerging workforce needs. To facilitate local input, the State Workforce Investment Board will contract with the Chambers of Commerce across the state in eight distinct regions that mirror the tourism regions, to convene and facilitate the business community at the local level. Utilizing such natural business intermediaries fosters a stronger connection to the private sector and local economic development activity. The State Workforce Investment Board has reached out to involve the regional chambers in the restructuring. The chambers will provide expertise and local leadership directly benefiting the communities and businesses they serve.

The restructuring process of the State Workforce Investment Board will not only increase the amount of money available to train Maine people for in demand jobs, but also forge industry partnerships that better identify and respond to workforce needs as well as leverage the local Chambers of Commerce networks to improve direct communication with businesses.

For the past fourteen years, the complexity of the funding streams has generated an environment of bureaucratic overhead at the expense of funding training. Under the current configuration, less than 20 percent of the approximately $9 million in federal funds are available to pay specifically for occupational skills training for job seekers, in some areas of the state that number is less than 10 percent.

The proposed structural changes will reduce administrative overhead, increasing efficiency by better targeting training dollars to the types of jobs that industry needs. The changes will also provide for more local input.

The plan and waiver request can be found on the State Workforce Investment Board website. The U.S. Department of Labor has 90 days in which to respond.