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Final Report to the General Assembly: the Maryland Workforce Development System

 

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION
GOVERNORíS WORKFORCE INVESTMENT BOARD
June 30, 2004

FINAL REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
THE MARYLAND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

During the 2003 Maryland legislative session, the General Assembly included language in the Governorís Workforce Investment Board (GWIB) FY 2004 Operating Budget requiring the GWIB to "Identify Inefficiencies within the Stateís Own Workforce Development Delivery System" (full text of the budget language is in the Appendices). An interim report was submitted to the General Assembly on December 31, 2003. This final report provides information on the development of the ten opportunities for improvement that were identified in the interim report.

The GWIB is the Stateís chief coordinating body on workforce development, composed of approximately 41 members, with more than 50 percent coming from business. It is responsible for developing a strategic plan and policies to help forge a coordinated workforce system from a multiplicity of education, employment, and training programs. The following partner agencies collaborated with the GWIB as part of its Sub-cabinet, to develop the interim and final reports.

    • Department of Human Resources (DHR)
    • Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR)
    • Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)
    • Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)
    • Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED)
    • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH)

A successful workforce system is demand-driven, delivering services as needed. The GWIBís new motto is "Workforce development is economic development," because businesses cannot expand or locate in Maryland unless there is an available highly skilled workforce. In Maryland, as in other states, Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) directly provide employment and training services and serve as the primary coordinator for the provision of workforce services in each jurisdiction. These Boards are required to coordinate their services with the local Job Service offices, 24 Departments of Social Services, the sixteen community colleges, State-operated rehabilitation services, and adult literacy programs.

The local delivery of services and the coordinating role of the LWIBs are funded almost entirely by the Federal government with some local government contributions. Eight state agencies also oversee components of both Federal and State workforce programs for Maryland. The GWIBís role is to ensure that this system is aligned with the economic and educational goals of the State of Maryland, resulting in a qualified workforce available to Maryland employers.

The GWIB works towards accomplishing this goal by, among other things, coordinating with its agency partners, to make Maryland a cutting edge state because of its workforce development system. This coordination encompasses economic development, the K-16 education system, social services, and labor. The GWIB and its agency partners have made great strides to meet the needs of business, help incumbent workers upgrade their skills to match the needs of their employers, and help job seekers get the skills they need to work in industries facing significant shortages. The GWIB and its partners are working diligently to close some of the existing gaps and create a more demand-driven system. They have met with several recent successes, which are described in both the interim and final reports.

The General Assemblyís mandate to the GWIB comes at a key time for the GWIB and its partners. The Governor has reorganized the GWIB, made it a division within DLLR, and recently appointed industry leaders in the manufacturing, healthcare, aerospace, education, and hospitality industries. Governor Ehrlich has charged the GWIB and its partner agencies with the task of making Marylandís workforce system truly responsive to businesses so they are able to find the skilled candidates they need, and results in a vibrant economy to propel citizens on their career paths.

The GWIB recognizes that although many great strides have been made, through initiatives such as public-private partnerships formed to address workforce concerns, there are still many opportunities for improvement. In an effort to accelerate our progress and create a more demand-drive workforce system, Sub-cabinet members have made a commitment to improve cooperation, collaboration and communication among the departments. Ten opportunities for improvement have been identified and are highlighted below.

  1. Identify businesses or business sectors with growth potential that are currently experiencing or projecting worker shortages and determine how to service their workforce needs (the "Industry Cluster-Based Approach"). The Industry Cluster-Based Approach to Workforce Development is a demand-driven model for connecting specific industry needs with the workforce development system. The GWIB is addressing the problem in the healthcare industry with an industry cluster-based approach and is replicating the healthcare workforce initiative process in other industries.
  2. Identify interagency collaboration for the Maryland Career Cluster system in order to fully align workforce preparation at all education and training levels. Career clusters are groupings of interrelated occupations that represent the full range of career opportunities in Marylandís economy. They reflect all levels of education and include a common core of academic, technical and workplace knowledge and skills required for education and training. There is a long history of interagency collaboration related to the development of Marylandís career cluster system within MSDE, but more needs to be done. Resources have already been earmarked for training and curriculum writing associated with interagency cooperation as well as in the development of content standards.
  3. Execute a plan to market Local Workforce Investment Areas to area businesses. Many Maryland employers are unaware of the One-Stop system. The system must have a clear identity, message and standardized approach. Additional resources and stronger business linkages are also needed. A plan has been developed that will bring together education, economic development and workforce development to devise a new marketing strategy.
  4. Eliminate duplication and reduce costs through improved consolidation and coordination of Federal and State workforce dollars and programs. There is considerable overlap in the services provided through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and the Wagner-Peyser Act (Job Service). Through consolidation, duplicative efforts can be eliminated and cost savings realized and/or services improved. Efforts are already underway to identify and eliminate duplicative activities through the reorganization of the Division of Workforce Development within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Savings realized from consolidation will be passed on to the local areas for direct service activities.
  5. Improve connections with Marylandís business community and job seekers by focusing attention on updating and integrating the workforce Management Information System. The WIA-funded One-Stops and the Maryland State Job Service had been using an antiquated mainframe-based information and job matching system that needed replacing. A new system, the "Maryland Workforce Exchange," was implemented on Monday, March 29, 2004. Staff is becoming skilled at its use and the system is undergoing debugging. Plans are underway to make the system available on the Web to job seekers and employers. Expansion plans include creating access for other workforce development system partners.
  6. Identify opportunities for the Department of Social Services and Local Workforce Investment Areas to combine resources in a collaborative and efficient manner to improve services to low-income individuals. Combining Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and WIA resources is a long-standing concern for many service delivery areas in Maryland and has been recognized as a gap in the workforce development system that should be addressed rapidly to ensure that our labor supply keeps pace with the demands of our growing economy. Plans are underway to develop a facilitated meeting between WIA and TANF service delivery agencies to develop a joint plan and policy for improved coordination.
  7. Fully integrate adult education into Marylandís workforce development system. It is important that all partner agencies understand the roles and services of Marylandís adult education programs. Partner agencies have begun meeting to discuss the integration of adult education programs with traditional workforce training programs. It is recommended that the Sub-cabinet develop specific plans for program integration. These should include opportunities for increased customer referrals, expanded literacy services in Maryland One-Stops, adult education representation on local boards and improved connections between agency systems.
  8. Design a strategy to expand support for transitioning ex-offenders into the Maryland workforce. There are currently many barriers impacting ex-offendersí abilities to re-enter the workforce. Agencies are looking at reallocating resources for programs and services with documented performance outcomes for ex-offenders in the community.
  9. Increase job opportunities for persons with disabilities. The high rate of unemployment for persons with disabilities is a long-standing and significant problem both nationally and in Maryland. Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) and One-Stops are working to become more accessible and welcoming to persons with disabilities. The One-Stops will eventually become a primary service point of entry for persons with disabilities.
  10. Build capacity among workforce development system partners. Efforts are underway to expand the role of the Maryland Institute for Employment and Training Professionals (MIETP) to include training that will facilitate closer working relationships and cooperation among the various workforce development partners. Interagency efforts are underway to position MIETP to be the "trainer of choice" for the industry cluster-based approach for public and private sector personnel involved in "cluster initiatives."

The effective and swift implementation of these GWIB recommendations will require the full attention, participation, and cooperation of all parties committed to improving the Stateís workforce development system. It will also require that Maryland businesses be engaged on a strategic and operational level throughout the workforce investment system.

A glossary of acronyms/abbreviations can be found in Appendix III.

  1. Background
  2. The Mission, Focus, and Structure of the GWIB
  3. Partner Agencies on the GWIB
  4. Marylandís WorkforceóA Key Economic Asset for the State
  5. Marylandís Workforce Drives Economic Development
  6. Marylandís Workforce Development System
  7. Recent Successes
  8. Opportunities for Improvement
  9. Conclusion

Appendix I.  Adopt the following narrative
Appendix II.  Agency Services and Funding Information for Ex-Offenders
Appendix III.  Glossary of Acronyms