Senate to hear House bill that would boost Vermont’s workforce development efforts | Vermont

(The Center Square) – Workforce development in key areas of Vermont’s economy is the focus of a new bill heading to the Senate.

House Bill 703if passed, would use $41.9 million to establish several workforce development programs with the goal of increasing workforce participation rates, training and retaining nurses and mental health workers, and to focus on delivering training and learning programs to youth and adults.

The bill passed the House on Friday morning by a unanimous vote of 139 to 0, with 10 members absent, and was forwarded to the Senate. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tristan Toleno, D-Brattleboro, and the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.

The bill, according to the tax note, would allocate $39.9 million in fiscal year 2023 and $1 million each in fiscal years 2024-25. Included are $18.9 million in general fund appropriations, $15 million in education fund appropriations, and $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act appropriations.

According to the bill, scholarships and student loan repayments, in addition to networking, learning and development campaigns would be priorities. The bill would also include hiring early childhood educators and supporting internship programs.

The bill would address critical state labor shortages and prioritize health and safety.

Republican Governor Phil Scott, speaking on January 5 during his State Address Statesaid Vermont had lost 30,000 workers since 2011 and said the “pandemic has not created” a labor shortage, but “made it worse.”

The governor, during his speech, pledged to work with the Legislative Assembly to “reverse workforce trends” and secure a future filled with “good jobs, good schools and affordable housing.” .

Under the bill, $1 million would be allocated to the University of Vermont and Vermont State University to help fund the mental health nursing program, and $6 million would be allocated to Vermont State to double the capacity of the state university’s nursing program.

The bill would also provide $3 million to the University of Vermont to increase the school’s nursing program by 50%.

The Health Services Agency would receive $2 million under the bill for project management, stakeholder engagement, and implementation costs of the company’s workforce development strategic plan. health, which would exclude financial incentive programs.

The bill would work to provide $5 million to the Office of Engagement to administer and fairly distribute a statewide grant program that would allocate $5,000 per graduate to graduates of institutions of higher learning who stay in the state to work.

Additionally, $3 million under the bill would be used for $3,000 per person in matching grants for internships and registered apprenticeships. Under the bill, the employer’s contribution to the grants must meet the state’s living wage requirements.

The bill would also provide $300,000 to the Vermont Technical College to develop a training and apprenticeship center for skilled meat cutters. In addition, $1.5 million would be allocated to the Department of Corrections to increase the capacity of Community Justice Centers to assist adults with minor offenses with job training, upskilling and record clearing in order to reintegrate them into the labor market.