Posted on October 29, 2014 in Transportation
Over a dozen states, including five states (Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia) belonging to the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), have recently banned the use of the ET-Plus rail head, the flat piece of steel at the front of a guardrail that is meant to glide along the rail on impact and push the railing safely out of the way from a vehicle. Transportation experts have concluded that the rail heads could possibly contain a dangerous defect that could lead them to jam, causing guardrails to pierce vehicles.
For additional details on state actions related to these suspect guardrails, please see the following:
Posted on October 6, 2014 in Economic Development
Public and private sector officials alike realize that comprehensively training America’s workers for available positions in a number of emerging fields remains a critical ingredient in advancing our economy at the state, regional and national levels. In an effort to recruit and train workers to staff the sophisticated 21st century manufacturing jobs in many parts of the country, states are actively providing workforce training programs to their residents. The economic development agencies in a number of states belonging to the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), the Southern office of The Council of State Governments, place a great deal of emphasis on these training support programs and work closely with their community college system and their corporate partners to ensure that students receive the most up-to-date and wide-ranging training to staff these demanding positions. The SLC has been closely tracking the issue of state efforts to advance workforce development for several years in multiple ways: publications, Webinars and presentations.1
In a significant boost to these state efforts, in late September 2014, the federal government announced the awarding of $450 million in job-driven training grants that would be disbursed to nearly 270 community colleges across the country, a process that will be co-administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education.2 The grants are designed to provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to partner with employers to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that will help job seekers get the skills they need for in-demand jobs in industries like information technology, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing.
An important component of these federal grants is the ability of the community and technical colleges to partner with private sector entities in crafting training programs that directly relate to the needs of the private sector. As indicated in a number of previous SLC publications, the SLC states have been extremely proactive on this front and have collaborated effectively with different private companies to facilitate this process. For instance, North Carolina’s collaboration between the private sector and community college system in fostering worker training has a long history of national recognition. Specifically, Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and Siemens Energy, both located in Charlotte, have a highly effective partnership building and developing a talent pipeline to address Siemens’ workforce needs with suitably trained workers.3 In a development that affirms this partnership, a review of the September 2014 federal grant distributions indicates that CPCC was the recipient of a $2.5 million award. Table 1 provides details on the federal workforce development grants provided to the community colleges and technical colleges in the SLC states.
|AL||Birmingham||Lawson State Community College||$10,000,000.00|
|AR||West Memphis||Mid-South Community College||$9,814,818.00|
|FL||Miami||Miami Dade College Kendall Campus||$9,977,296.00|
|GA||Thomasville||Southwest Georgia Technical College||$2,322,718.00|
|KY||Hazard||Hazard Community and Technical College||$10,000,000.00|
|LA||Bossier City||Bossier Parish Community College||$2,499,325.00|
|LA||New Orleans||Delgado Community College||$2,498,457.00|
|MO||Kansas City||Metropolitan Community College||$19,724,404.00|
|MS||Decatur||East Central Community College||$2,499,950.00|
|NC||Charlotte||Central Piedmont Community College||$2,499,378.00|
|OK||Oklahoma City||Oklahoma City Community College||$2,497,340.00|
|SC||Graniteville||Aiken Technical College||$2,455,839.00|
|TN||Memphis||Southwest Tennessee Community College||$2,387,247.00|
|TX||Waco||Texas State Technical College - Waco||$2,378,924.00|
|VA||Danville||Danville Community College||$2,500,000.00|
|VA||Middletown||Lord Fairfax Community College||$3,250,000.00|
|VA||Cedar Bluff||Southwest Virginia Community College||$2,500,000.00|
|VA||Hampton||Thomas Nelson Community College||$2,476,840.00|
|VA||Petersburg||Virginia State University||$3,249,817.00|
|WV||Huntington||Mountwest Community & Technical College||$9,461,288.00|
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/29/fact-sheet-vice-president-biden-announces-recipients-450-million-job-dri (accessed October 1, 2014)
There were 23 institutions located in the SLC states that received grants from the federal government to promote workforce development. Several of these institutions received some of the largest disbursements, including Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Arkansas ($9.8 million); Miami-Dade College (Kendall Campus) in Miami, Florida ($10 million); Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama ($10 million); Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, Kentucky ($10 million); and Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri, the second highest grant awarded ($19.7 million).
In highlighting the expertise of the different institutions, the federal grant distribution news release noted the following with regard to institutions in the SLC states:
Experts rank an adequate supply of skilled workers positioned to tackle the challenges of the complex 21st century manufacturing arena a critical ingredient in promoting a successful state economic development strategy, particularly in setting up manufacturing facilities. A number of studies in recent years have documented the serious skills shortage in the contemporary American manufacturing sector, a development that could impede the resurgent manufacturing sector in the United States. These reports maintain that, unless policymakers rapidly enact aggressive policies to train and retrain a new generation of manufacturing workers, America’s economic prowess in the 21st century will be seriously jeopardized. In response, a number of states across the country, particularly in the SLC region, have been extremely proactive in meeting the needs of the diverse manufacturing companies locating and expanding in their states by providing a range of workforce development opportunities after effectively partnering with community and technical colleges.
Manufacturing companies locating in the SLC states, particularly the automotive and aeronautics companies, often cite the ability of SLC states to provide an appropriately trained labor pool as an important consideration in their location decisions. Toward further reinforcing this goal, the decision of the federal government to award $450 million in grants to community and technical colleges across the country remains an important step in the direction of ensuring that the United States produces a cadre of competent, highly-trained manufacturing workers. The collaborative role, involving state policymakers and private companies in designing the training programs at the technical and community colleges, is another hallmark of a strategy that is increasingly gaining traction in the states.
1 For additional and details on SLC publications on the topic, please see http://www.slcatlanta.org/Publications/EconDev/workdev_web.pdf, http://www.slcatlanta.org/Publications/EconDev/TireManufacturingSouth.pdf and http://www.slcatlanta.org/Publications/EconDev/SouthernAerospace.pdf.
3 For additional details on this CPCC/Siemens partnership, see http://www.slcatlanta.org/Publications/EconDev/workdev_web.pdf, page 16.
4 Stackable certificates allow a student to quickly achieve an industry certification at a community college that leads directly to employment. Typically, these programs are geared toward adult learners, with schedules more open to individuals with jobs and families.
5 Founded in 1995 as a neighborhood-based effort to increase access to personal computers, Per Scholas was an early pioneer in bridging the digital divide for families and children in the South Bronx, in New York City. Per Scholas now operates the largest and oldest professional IT workforce development program in New York City, a series of free, multi-week professional IT job training courses and career development and placement services. The organization also has embarked on a national expansion with new locations in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.
6 Founded in 1983, Jobs for the Future began as a regional nonprofit working with a few states to assess their workforce needs, helping employers find skilled workers, and assisting workers move into higher-wage jobs. Today, Jobs for the Future works to expand the college, career, and life prospects of low-income youth and adults in 25 states.