HJR 713: Joint Subcommittee Studying the Need for Greater Consolidation
or Coordination of Virginia Workforce Development and Training Resources
The joint subcommittee
held its first meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2005, in Richmond, Virginia.
Members are Delegates Kathy J. Byron (Chairman), Thomas Wright, Jr., David
A. Nutter, James M. Scott, and Clarke N. Hogan and Senators Frank M. Ruff,
Jr. (Vice-chairman), Wm. Roscoe Reynolds, and Yvonne B. Miller. Citizen
members are George E. Hunnicutt, Jr., Bruce Phipps,
C. Michael Ferraro, Dr. Rose Harrell Johnson, and Dr. John J. Cavan.
Staff gave an initial
study report briefing the members on the five tasks set out in the authorizing
resolution, as well as reviewed legislative history of workforce training
in Virginia. The members
reviewed the three different Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization
proposals currently under discussion at the federal level: H.R. 27-Job
Training Improvement Act of 2005; S. 1021-The Workforce Investment Act
Amendments of 2005; and the Bush administration's WIA-Plus Consolidated
OVERVIEW OF THE
Update of the
JLARC 2002 Workforce Training Study
Dr. Kirk Jonas, former
Deputy Director of JLARC, provided an update of the 2002 JLARC study,
"Review of Workforce Training in Virginia." Dr. Jonas noted
that the initial review was conducted when the program was relatively
new and that the program has matured since 2002. He also noted that the
study defined "workforce training" as programs that provided
education or services directly designed to advance an individual's ability
to obtain or sustain employment. Services such as inmate services were
outside the scope of the definition and not included in the study.
The position of Special
Advisor to the Governor on Workforce Development has been created since
the study was completed. By statute, the position is clearly that of an
advisor, not a "workforce czar," but confusion over expectations
and responsibilities led to difficulty implementing the position. While
Dr. Jonas found there to be a wide range of views on the effectiveness
of the position, most parties interviewed agreed that workforce training
has moved forward in the last two years. Some interviewees attributed
that progress to the Special Advisor position.
Dr. Jonas indicated
that much of the information contained in the 2002 study remains relevant.
Overall, progress has been made, but certain issues identified in the
study remain of concern. For example, there continues to be variability
in the success of the one-stop centers. Other areas identified as problems
in the 2002 study are no longer of concern, e.g., the passage rate on
the WIA performance measures.
In summary, Dr. Jonas
found major positive changes since the completion of the JLARC report,
including the gubernatorial and secretarial focus on WIA, better system-level
guidance, greater understanding of program objectives, and improved state-level
supervision and oversight. Requiring local WIBs to prepare annual workforce
demand plans identifying jobs and skills needed by employers was seen
by many as a positive step.
There remain difficulties
due to the structure of the WIA, which cuts across multiple secretariats,
agencies, levels of government and funding streams. In addition, two-thirds
of the workforce training funds are federal and are not subject to state
control or consolidation. Finally, tensions exist among the agencies as
to which clients they are seeking to serve.
When asked, Dr. Jonas
agreed that the programs are "sliced" differently at the local
level. He clarified that "work first" means that "the best
preparation for work is work itself," so if a job becomes available
for which a worker is qualified, he will be placed in that position.
Gail Robinson, Liaison
to the Virginia Workforce Council, VEC, provided a pamphlet containing
a graphic overview of the WIA implementation in Virginia. The chart detailed
the nine different state agencies which administer WIA-mandated partner
programs, as well as showed the federal and state money received by the
different programs, the populations targeted to receive services, and
statistics on the number of services provided and outcomes achieved. Ms.
Robinson cautioned that the figures are not necessarily appropriate for
comparison across programs, as the unique needs of the persons receiving
services may be more intensive for certain populations than for others.
Esser led the members of the subcommittee through one program from the
agency level vertically down through the impact level. Using the WIA Youth
Program as an example, Commissioner Esser explained how the program is
funded and where funds are distributed. She noted that 20% of the funds
available for WIA Adult or Dislocated Worker programs may be transferred
between those two programs, but that, with that exception, the state has
no control over where the federal funds are spent. When asked about the
sizeable carryover of past year funds for youth programs, Commissioner
Esser noted that, prior to the enactment of WIA in 1998, youth services
had been provided directly through the schools. It has been difficult
to reach youth through the WIA "youth providers" format.
In response to a
question as to whether there are any state funds for VEC, Dr. Jonas clarified
that WIA allows VEC to retain 15% of the federal funds for state administration,
including VEC and WIA activities and the office of the Special Advisor.
OVERVIEW OF VIRGINIA'S
WORKFORCE SERVICES PROGRAM
Debbie Melvin, Project
Manager, Workforce Services, Department of Business Assistance, provided
an overview of the Workforce Services Program. The program is the second
oldest economic development incentive program in Virginia, and was recently
ranked as the fifth top workforce training program in the nation due to
its flexibility and ease of use. Testimonials included in the handout
provided by Workforce Services praised the program for its responsiveness
and lack of "red tape." The program is performance based, so
that no grant money is disbursed until a job is created. Funding comes
from state and federal sources and is available as incentives for both
new businesses and existing businesses that are expanding or undergoing
changes in technology requiring retraining. The funds for existing businesses
often save or expand jobs in Virginia. Current estimates indicate that
Workforce Services will exhaust its funding by the end of Fiscal Year
Ms. Melvin noted
that, if employees to be hired need additional training services before
they satisfy the company's needs, the company may access both Workforce
Services funds as well as other workforce training funds. Local economic
development staffs are the biggest proponents of Workforce Services and
serve as the main contacts concerning the needs of local companies. Workforce
Services staff also stay in touch with local WIBs throughout the state.
A member of the subcommittee indicated that, in the past, there had been
a lack of coordination and communication with local WIBs when businesses
arrived or expanded. Ms. Melvin noted that Workforce Services is working
towards including letters from local WIB directors in packets mailed to
prospective companies. Chairman Byron noted that there has been some frustration
for the Virginia Workforce Council that local businesses are not working
with the local WIBs and that coordination is not taking place. The members
requested that agency information on training dollars and jobs created
in the different areas of state be obtained and submitted to the joint
subcommittee for review.
WORK PLAN AND
Future meetings will
include presentations from different agencies as well as from local WIBs,
training providers, and businesses that have received training. Martin
Simon from the National Governor's Association will speak to the subcommittee
concerning his case study of five states implementing workforce training.
A member of the subcommittee asked that there be information on the people
who are not being served, along with their educational level. The vice-chairman
asked that there be a comparison of what's occurring in WIB areas of greater
affluence compared to those in areas of less affluence.
The Hon. Kathy
Frank Munyan, DLS