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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 2WWW: Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund

Section 2WWW. (a) There is hereby established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, hereinafter called the fund. The fund shall be administered by the department of career services which shall contract with the Commonwealth Corporation to administer the fund. The objectives of the fund shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following: supporting, in conjunction with other private, public and philanthropic resources, the development and implementation of employer and worker responsive programs to enhance worker skills, incomes, productivity and retention and to increase the quality and competitiveness of Massachusetts firms; training and helping the unemployed find suitable employment; improving employment opportunities for low-income individuals and low wage workers; improving wages to a level sufficient to support a family or to place individuals on a career path leading to such employment and wages; training vulnerable youths to master basic academic skills, including the attainment of a high school degree and encouraging students to advance educationally and receive post-secondary degrees at colleges or post-secondary vocational schools or beyond; developing occupational skills and becoming employed in jobs that have career potential; and training older workers for new occupations. The department shall utilize these projects to improve the workforce development system by integrating employer and worker needs more fully into program design and delivery. The department shall support, through grants, partnership programs and planning, grant applications from the following eligible applicants to provide an integrated continuum of education and training: employers and employer associations; local workforce investment boards; labor organizations; community-based organizations, including adult basic education providers; institutions of higher education; vocational education institutions; one-stop career centers; local workforce development entities; and nonprofit education, training or other service providers. The fund shall leverage employer, public, philanthropic and other contributions and shall be available as a state match for federal funds that meet the requirements of the fund. The fund shall be an expendable trust fund and not subject to appropriation. Grants from the fund shall be offered on a competitive basis for a maximum of 3 years and shall not exceed $500,000.

(b) The director of career services shall appoint an advisory committee to represent significant constituencies and beneficiaries of the fund including, but not limited to, high growth or critical industries; the workforce development system; public education; adult basic education; the department of transitional assistance; public higher education; labor; community-based organizations and nonprofit education, training or other service providers; and advocates of customer populations, including representatives of education, training and the one-stop career center provider coalitions, including a minimum of 2 labor representatives selected by the President of the Massachusetts AFL?CIO and 2 representatives of the Massachusetts Workforce Board Association. The director shall serve as chair of the committee. The committee shall supply constituent focused labor market information, review general programmatic parameters and guidelines, assist with the identification of issues and barriers to the fund's efficiency and effectiveness and the dissemination of relevant information about the fund and support the general oversight of the fund's implementation. The committee shall meet from time to time, but not less frequently than quarterly.

(c) The Commonwealth Corporation shall be the administrator of the fund and shall maintain the fund as a separate fund and shall cause it to be audited by an independent accountant on an annual basis in accordance with generally-accepted accounting principles.

(d) There shall be credited to the fund any revenue from appropriations or other monies authorized by the general court and specifically designated to be credited to the fund, and any gifts, grants, private contributions, investment income earned on the fund's assets and all other sources. Money remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund.

(e) Partnership programs may include costs for support services including, but not limited to, transportation and childcare, to eliminate barriers to participation in the training program. For any unionized employer participating as a partner in a grant application, the impacted union shall be an active participant in the design and implementation of the grant.

(f) A competitive grant program shall be established that provides support to partnerships and eligible applicants as described above, and that leverages applicant co-investment of at least 30 per cent of the grant amount from employers, philanthropic and public or private organizations. The period of grant operations may be up to 3 years in duration. Grants may be targeted to specific populations, such as educationally or economically disadvantaged youth, low-income, low-skilled and low-wage workers, disabled citizens or industries that are deemed to be of critical consequence to the commonwealth. Special grant programs and funding allocations shall be determined by the committee and shall be distributed by a regionally-based competitive bid process, which shall require the defining of economic regions based on labor market factors as determined by the committee. Each municipality shall be accounted for in a designated region. A formula for regional distribution shall be created and competition for formula grant funds shall occur within each identified region and shall be subject to the rules and regulations established by the committee in consultation with regional partners. Respondents to the local competitions shall notify, in writing, the region's workforce investment board of their intent to respond to the request for proposals. A planning grant may be offered to define employer needs; to make necessary curriculum and other programmatic improvements to align with employer and worker needs; to determine the feasibility of a proposed workforce development intervention; to plan for and coordinate strong partnerships among stakeholders; to identify educational and skill needs of workers and program participants; to link training initiatives with employer-based career ladders; and to develop case management and additional support services that would address barriers to participation.

(g) A portion of the grant fund shall be used to support the current and future labor force needs of the healthcare industry. This portion of the fund shall support projects that address barriers and gaps in the healthcare workforce development pipeline. Small planning and needs assessment grants may be offered. A project grant program shall be designed by Commonwealth Corporation in consultation with a Healthcare subcommittee of the fund committee, which shall include, at a minimum, appointments made by the following organizations: the Massachusetts Hospital Association; the Massachusetts Extended Care Federation; the Home and Health Care Association of Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Workforce Board Association; and the Massachusetts AFL?CIO, as well as representatives of the other mandatory advisory committee constituencies.

(h) A portion of the grant fund shall be used to support the current and future labor force needs of the travel and tourism industry. This portion of the grant fund shall be used to support the development of career ladder and wage improvement strategies, including employee ownership and profit-sharing strategies, within the travel and tourism industry. Small planning and needs assessment grants may be offered. A project grant program shall be designed by Commonwealth Corporation in consultation with the travel and tourism advisory committee, which shall include the primary industry associations that represent the industry in the commonwealth or, in their absence, a cohort of relevant industry employers, as well as representatives of the other mandatory advisory committee constituencies.

(i) Project grants shall be for a maximum of 3 years, shall be competitively based and shall not exceed $500,000. The committee shall determine how to apportion the grant fund between the healthcare industry, the travel and tourism industry and the general grant program; provided, however, that not more than 7.5 per cent of the funds appropriated in this subsection may be expended for the administration of each grant.

(j) The director of career services shall annually, not later than December 31, report to the secretary of administration and finance, the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on community development and small business, the joint committee on education, the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies, the joint committee on labor and workforce development and the joint committee on public health on the status of grants awarded under this section, including the number of educational and eligible service providers receiving grants; the number of participants receiving services; the number of participants placed in employment; the salary and benefits that participants receive after placement; the cost per participant; and job retention or promotion rates year after training ends.

(k) The establishment of the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, or any other worker training fund, shall not be determined to replace, displace or serve as a substitute for the Workforce Training Fund established in section 2RR.