Thursday, July 24, 2014
Big Week for Workforce Development
The Obama administration took major steps this week to push for increased connection between workforce training programs and America’s current labor market realities. Following the release of an action plan for job training programs produced with leadership from Vice President Joe Biden, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday. Earlier this month, the act passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.
The administration’s review of job training programs had revealed model programs which quickly and effectively prepare ready-to-work individuals for the available jobs in growing industries. Chicago’s Jane Addams Resource Corporation is listed on the map of model programs. A major goal of this review of programs and the passing of WIOA is to encourage policymakers to support the growth and development of more programs that can support the development of the country’s workforce.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Signing Ceremony – Illinois’ “Ban the Box” Bill
Join fellow advocates and supporters in celebrating Governor Pat Quinn signing Illinois’ “Ban the Box” bill, which removes a major barrier for ex-offenders successfully re-entering society and becoming productive, law-abiding citizens. The signing will take place Saturday, July 19, 2014, 10:30am at St. Michael Missionary Baptist Church (4106 W. Monroe St., Chicago).
Officially titled the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (HB 5701), this bill requires private employers in Illinois with 15 or more employees to remove any inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history and postpone such questions until later in the hiring process. The law goes into effect January 1, 2015 making Illinois the fifth state to expand “ban the box” policies to private employers.
Please RSVP to Chelsea Lindeman (Chelsea.Lindeman@illinois.gov) if you plan to attend.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education Report Preview
The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) released a preview of an upcoming report that calls for transforming adult learning in the United States. Increasing opportunities for adults is a critical issue as the federally funded adult education system reaches fewer than two million adults while a survey done by OCTAE indicates that three million adults want to build their skills and 36 million could benefit from improved skills. Noteworthy recommendations in the preview include: Expanding opportunities for adults to improve foundational skills, making career pathways available and accessible in every community, and a commitment to closing the equity gap for vulnerable populations. The report preview can be viewed here. The full report will be released in August of 2014 and can be accessed here.
WIA Reauthorization Moves Forward with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
On May 21st, a bipartisan group of members from the U.S. Senate and House introduced the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a proposal that reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act. WIOA would reauthorize the program for six years from 2015 to 2020. In general the bill focuses on streamlining programs, reporting, and administration. The bill eliminates 15 existing federal training programs such as WIA incentive grants, WIA pilots and demonstration projects, and the Workforce Innovation Fund. The bill creates common measures across programs for adults and youth and mandates a single, unified plan for all core programs. Because WOIA is a bipartisan, bicameral bill, it is expected that the bill will move quickly through both chambers. If passed, it is likely that President Obama would sign the bill. For more details about WOIA, click here to view analysis from the National Skills Coalition.
Urban Weatherization Initiative Update
The Office of Urban Assistance released requests for proposals for the Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). UWI is a statewide economic development initiative designed to improve low-income urban neighborhoods by weatherizing homes, training residents to do the work, and stimulating economies by requiring that contractors purchase materials locally. Proposals are being solicited for UWI’s two training programs: Home Energy Auditor and Weatherization Specialist, and the Residential Weatherization Program. The deadline to submit proposals is June 26th. For more information about the RFPs, click here.
In a related matter, the legislation (HB3827) that proposed four important changes to UWI passed the Illinois House, but unfortunately stalled in the state Senate. Thank you to all our partners who advocated with the General Assembly on behalf of this bill. We will continue to push for these important changes with policymakers and revisit this legislation during the veto session. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Steve Simmons at 312-252-0435 or email@example.com or Dan Lyonsmith at 312-252-0461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Reforms to the Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit
Speaker Madigan and DCEO Director Adam Pollet appeared before the House Revenue and Finance Committee and proposed modifications to the State’s poplar business incentive program that has recently come under public scrutiny, the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) payroll tax-credit program. Under these proposed reforms, any company applying for tax breaks would have to submit an affidavit signed by its CEO or Chief Financial Officer stating that without the credit, a company would not locate its facility to Illinois. Pollet stated that the reforms focused on making the program more of one that created jobs and that takes into consideration poverty and areas of high unemployment. Credits would be limited to 100 percent of income taxes recouped from new hires and 40 percent of the incremental income tax boost from retained workers.
Far more extensive requirements would apply to companies that seek to use the credit as an offset to withholding taxes on workers, rather than merely against their own income tax liability. In these “special” EDGE cases, credits not only would have to be approved by the General Assembly on a case-by-case basis, but the company would also have to hire at least 65% of its new employees from a geographic area with high poverty or high unemployment. In addition, the special EDGE applicants, though not regular EDGE applicants, would have to disclose their base income, total business income, net operating deduction , net income, and state income tax liability.
The changes to the program also make regular EDGE credits more accessible to smaller or mid-sized businesses as it removes the capital investment requirement currently needed to apply for the credit. Several business groups including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturing Association testified against the proposed changes. For more information about the bill, please click here.
Workforce Development Data to Support Your Work
Want to learn more about workforce development funding in Illinois? Want to find more provider organizations in your area? Need timely labor market information for grants and reports? Visit the Chicago Jobs Council’s Workforce Information and Resource Exchange (WIRE) where you’ll find a variety of resources including a provider directory, workforce funding information, related data, and a publications catalog. For more information, click here to visit the WIRE.
Friday, May 16, 2014
New UWI RFPs
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has announced the following Urban Weatherization Initiative grant opportunities: FY 14 Home Energy Auditor Program, FY 14 Weatherization Specialist Training Program, and Residential Weatherization Program. All applications are due at various times on June 26, 2014. For more information on these grants opportunities and the Urban Weatherization Initiative, click here.
DOL Grant Opportunity
The U.S Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of up to $53 million in funds under the Workforce Innovation Fund grant program. These funds support innovative approaches that generate long-term improvements in the performance of the public workforce system, outcomes for job seekers and employers, and cost-effectiveness. Applications are due June 18, 2004 at 3:00pm CST. For more information, click here.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Act Now – Avoid Drastic Cuts to Services & Programs!
We need you to act now as the fate of Illinois’ state budget will be determined in the next few weeks. In January 2015 the current 5% state income tax will expire creating a fiscal cliff. This will result in massive cuts (nearly $2 billion in cuts) to education funding and vital human services programs if the 5% income tax rate is not extended.
Please contact your state legislators (House and Senate) and let them know that more cuts to education, healthcare, and human services is unacceptable and that the state should raise sufficient revenue to fund our priorities. Find your legislator’s contact information by clicking here.
Click here to download and view a fact sheet from the Responsible Budget Coalition that details the consequences of not extending the 5% income tax rate.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Dan Lyonsmith at email@example.com.
Thank you and please spread the word!