Summary of 2012 Legislation Impacting the Workforce Development System

Workforce Development System Biennial Program and Funding Plan.

The Rhode Island Workforce Alliance promoted this important policy that requires the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB) to submit to the governor and general assembly a biennial employment and training plan beginning March 15th of 2012 and every other year thereafter.

The Plan must include a funding plan necessary to achieve system priorities and serve the anticipated number of participants and must identify the general revenue funds necessary to meet program needs, taking into account anticipated federal, private and other sources of funds.

To inform the development of the plan, the GWB must prepare a comprehensive inventory and analysis of workforce development activities by December 1, 2011.  The GWB must convene an advisory group including stakeholders and organizations knowledgeable about workforce development to help develop the analysis. The inventory/analysis must include : An examination of the populations being served across the different employment and training and adult education programs, including: the number of participants being served; the type of services provided; the eligibility criteria; the funding sources; the service providers; the range of services provided.  In addition the inventory must document the employer role in workforce development activities including: how employer needs are assessed; benefits employers receive for partnering with workforce development organizations and the role of employers in development and training

The new policy also requires the GWB to include attainment of credentials as one of the outcome measurements in the annual unified workforce development expenditure and program report.

Funding for Adult Education/Workforce Development
The General Assembly’s budget withdrew $2.3 million in general revenue funds for adult education from the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education budget.  It directed that these funds be replaced by an equal amount of funds from the Job Development Fund administered by the Governor’s Workforce Board.  The total appropriated to RIDE for adult education from the JDF is $5,795,000.  The anticipated revenue for JDF for 2012 is $11.4 million.  The elimination of the general revenue funds for adult education reduces the state’s investment in workforce development by 17%.

RI Works Program
Article 23 of the budget amends the RI Works law to allow parents to participate in a range of “employment plan” activities to enter or prepare to enter the workforce.  This includes participation in vocational education (up to 12 months). The “work first” requirement that mandated that most parents participate in a 4 week job search as their initial employment plan activity is repealed.

RI Enhanced Job Match Program
This bill would have established in law the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet comprised of officials from state agencies with workforce related roles.  The cabinet was directed to implement an enhanced job match system, building on the existing web-based system maintained by DLT and coordinating with WaytogoRI, the web-based career and pathways planning system maintained by the RI Higher Education Assistance Authority.  The bill passed the Senate but was not considered by the House.

The Rhode Island Return to Work Act 
These bills would have established the Rhode Island Return to Work Program, administered by the Dept. of Labor and Training.  The program would allow an employer who had a job opening to provide an opportunity for an adult receiving unemployment benefits to participate in training for the position. The adult could continue to receive unemployment benefits during the training period for up to six weeks for no more than 24 hours/week. The committees that heard the bills held them for further study.

Career and Technical Education 
Beginning January 2012, the department of elementary and secondary education is required to provide an annual report to the senate president and speaker of the house that includes a number of metrics about career and technical education, including, number of students attending program, number receiving diplomas and industry recognized credentials. The bill passed the house and senate and was signed by the Governor.

Compulsory Education 
This bill increases the age for school attendance from 16 to 18.  Youth age 16 – 18 may obtain a waiver from school attendance (at a private or public school or home-schooling) by providing proof that she/he has an alternative learning plan for obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent.  The alternative learning plan may include independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships, community service, apprenticeships and on-line courses. The plan is developed with the pupil, school guidance counselor, school principal and at least one parent or guardian and submitted to the superintendent for approval.  The bills passed the house and senate and were signed by the Governor.

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