OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5590 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CREATING A TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT.

SUMMARY

This bill (1) creates a Workforce Training Authority and related Workforce Training Authority Fund, (2) creates two workforce programs in statute, and (3) makes a number of other changes to laws related to workforce development. It also requires the Department of Labor (DOL) to analyze information and submit various reports to the General Assembly.

*House Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 213) which created a task to study the effectiveness of the state's workforce development programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage except the job training report and the soft skills program provisions are effective July 1, 2017 and the requirement that Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) hire an outreach coordinator is effective October 1, 2017.

1 — BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICES WORKING GROUP

The bill allows the labor commissioner, on or before October 1, 2017, to establish a working group to review business support services in the state. The group may consist of one business services representative from each of the following agencies: (1) DOL, (2) the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and (3) the Workforce Development Board (WDB).

Under the bill, the group is authorized to review business support services offered by these agencies and consider ways to better coordinate the services to benefit businesses in Connecticut, including the development of (1) a shared database of business support services, and (2) shared marketing materials.

The Labor Commissioner may make recommendations for legislation to the governor and the Labor and Public Employees, Commerce, and Higher Education and Employment Advancement committees.

2 — JOB TRAINING INTAKE FORM AND JOB TRAINING ANALYSIS REPORT

The bill requires the labor commissioner to develop and implement a universal intake form that each person entering any American Job Center or regional workforce development board facility must complete. The form must request information from each person that the commissioner deems necessary in order to report to the General Assembly on the success of the job assistance provided.

By December 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, the bill requires the labor commissioner to report to the Labor Committee on the following:

1. the number of people using the American Job Center (formerly known as the One Stop Job Center) or Workforce Development Board facility job training programs and services,

2. the number of people who obtained jobs after using the job training programs and services,

3. the categories of job skills indicated on the universal intake form and the number of people with each of these skills,

4. a determination of the job skills necessary for employment in the state,

5. the number of people in various directed job pathways,

6. the average wage or salary of the positions of those who obtain jobs after using job training programs and services, and

7. the industry sectors in which people obtain jobs after using the job training programs and services.

3 — SOFT SKILLS PROGRAM

Under the bill the labor commissioner must prepare and issue, by October 1, 2017, a request for proposals (RFP) for the development and implementation of a soft skills program. The RFP must require each person, firm, or corporation submitting a proposal to (1) demonstrate coordination with an emerging industry partner in the state in developing a soft skills curriculum, and (2) provide any other information the commissioner deems necessary.

The bill defines "soft skills" as character traits and interpersonal skills, such as social skills, communication skills, and attitudes, that characterize a person's relationship with other people and do not rely on acquired knowledge or technical skills.

4 — ESTABLISHING THE CONNECTICUT PRESCHOOL THROUGH TWENTY AND WORKFORCE INFORMATION NETWORK (CP20 WIN)

The bill establishes in statute the CP20 WIN network to establish processes and structures governing the secure sharing of longitudinal data across participating agencies by using standards and policies that the network develops. Under the bill, the network is the system to match and link data from state agencies and other organizations to conduct audits and evaluations of federal and state education programs.

Agencies participating in the network include the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), State Department of Education (SDE), DOL, Office of Early Childhood (OEC), UConn, the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC), and any entity that has a memorandum of agreement (MOU) for participation in the CP20 WIN. Currently, the network exists through MOUs between a number of state agencies, including SDE and DOL.

CP20 WIN Executive Board

The bill creates a CP20 WIN executive board to govern and oversee the network. The board includes the following members:

1. the labor commissioner, or his designee,

2. the education commissioner, or her designee,

3. OEC commissioner, or his designee,

4. CSCU president, or his designee,

5. UConn president or her designee,

6. CCIC board chairperson, or a designee of the board, and

7. the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary, or his designee.

The bill gives the board the following duties:

1. advancing a vision for the CP20 WIN, including a research agenda with support from the Planning Commission for Higher Education;

2. establishing a data governing board to establish and enforce policies related to cross-agency data management, including, data confidentiality and security aligned with the network policy and vision and any applicable law;

3. convening as needed to respond to issues from the data governing board;

4. identifying and work to secure resources necessary to sustain the network funding;

5. supporting system implementation, maintenance, and improvement by advocating for the network in regard to policy, legislation and resources;

6. advocating and support the state's vision for the network;

7. responsibility for overall fiscal matters and policy for the network; and

8. ensuring that, in any circumstances in which public funds or resources are to be jointly used with those from private entities, these arrangements are governed by appropriate agreements approved by the attorney general.

The bill requires the data governing board to consult with OPM regarding the statutorily required data sharing program that OPM manages for all executive branch agencies and other applicable statutes and policies when developing a data-management policy.

Furthermore, the bill allows the executive board to appoint advisory committees to make recommendations on data stewardship, data system expansion and processes, and such other areas that will advance the network's work.

Definitions

The bill also includes the following definitions:

1. "Data definitions" are the plain language descriptions of data elements.

2. "Data dictionary" is a listing of the names of a set of data elements, their definitions, and additional meta-data that does not contain any actual data, but provides information about the data in a data set.

3. "Data elements" are units of information stored or accessed in any data system, such as a student identification number, course code, or cumulative grade point average.

4. "Meta-data" is the information about a data element that provides context for that data element, such as its definition, storage location, format, and size.

5 & 6 — CONNECTICUT EARLY COLLEGE OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM

The bill creates the Connecticut Early College Opportunity program (CT-ECO), which is defined as collaboration between a school district's high schools, a local community college, and a company or business entity where a student may earn an industry-recognized, two-year postsecondary degree in addition to a high school diploma. The bill places the program in statute; it currently already exists in several school districts, including Danbury, New London, Norwalk and Windham.

The bill requires the CSCU president, by October 1, 2017, to create an outreach coordinator position to act as a liaison between institutions within the system and businesses in the state to develop workforce education and job training opportunities including CT-ECO (as the program is already operating, the CSCU Board of Regents has a person in this position).

Statewide Plan and Plan Reports

By law the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC), in collaboration with the state's regional workforce development boards, is charged with developing a statewide plan to implement, expand, and improve career certificate programs, middle college programs, and early college high school programs. The bill specifically requires (1) the plan to include CT-ECO and (2) CSUS and SDE to also collaborate in plan development. The bill adds that the plan must include jobs targeted in science, technology, engineering, and math industries. Current law requires manufacturing, health care, construction, green industries and other emerging sectors of the economy.

The bill also eliminates a definition of contextualized learning and removes it as a required part of the plan.

The bill sets January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, as the deadline for CETC to report on the plan to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. Furthermore, it sets September 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, as the deadline for CETC to report to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee on the status of the plan's programs.

7, 8 & 9 — WORKFORCE TRAINING AUTHORITY AND WORKFORCE TRAINING AUTHORITY FUND

The bill creates a Workforce Training Authority and related Workforce Training Authority Fund. It authorizes fund money to be used for (1) training assistance to eligible recipients that the authority approves and (2) reimbursing the fund's administrator (i.e., DOL) for administrative costs. The authority fund is authorized to accept any funds received from the authority and any private donations or gifts.

The bill establishes a 16-member board to oversee the authority; sets certain board procedures, including how administrative costs will be paid; and provides details for the application and approval process for eligible recipients.

Board Members

The bill establishes the board with 11 appointed members and five executive branch members. See Table 1 below for the appointed members and the appointing authorities.

Table 1: Workforce Training Authority Appointed Board Members

Appointing Authority

Number of Appointees

Governor

Four

Senate president pro tempore

One

Republican Senate president pro tempore

One

Senate majority leader

One

Senate minority leader

One

House speaker

One

House majority leader

One

House minority leader

One

Each legislatively appointed member must have skill, knowledge, or experience in industries and sciences related to insurance, financial services, bioscience, advance manufacturing, digital media, green technology, and tourism (presumably skill, knowledge, or experience in one of the named areas is sufficient).

The other members are the labor, DECD, and correction commissioners; CSCU president; and UConn president. Any of these members may designate a person to represent them.

All initial appointments must be made by October 1, 2017. Appointed members serve a term that is coterminous with the respective appointing authority. Each member holds office until a successor is appointed. Any vacancy occurring on the board, other than by expiration of term, must be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the balance of the unexpired term.

Board Procedures

The chairperson must call the first meeting no later than December 1, 2017. The board must meet at such times as the chairperson deems necessary. No member of the board will receive compensation for his or her services.

The bill specifies that a majority of the members constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business or the exercise of any board power. The board can act by a majority of the members present at any meeting at which a quorum is in attendance for the transaction of any business or the exercise of any power of the board, except as provided below (see Expenditures).

Under the bill, it is not a conflict of interest for a trustee, director, partner, officer, manager, shareholder, proprietor, counsel, public official acting in his or her official capacity or employee of an eligible recipient, or any individual with a financial interest in an eligible recipient, to serve as a member of the board, provided the individual abstains from deliberation, action, or vote concerning any matter relating to the eligible recipient, except a public official acting in his or her official capacity is permitted to engage in the deliberation.

The board may develop industry-specific advisory councils to provide guidance on job market trends and develop connections with the business community.

Authority Fund

The authority fund is authorized to accept (1) any moneys received as part of a MOU with the authority; (2) all private contributions, gifts, grants, donations, bequests, or devises received by the fund; and (3) to the extent not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law, any local, state or federal funds received by the fund. The bill specifies the fund is a DOL account.

The bill authorizes fund money to be used (1) for training assistance to eligible recipients that the authority approves and (2) to reimburse DOL for administrative costs.

The training assistance must be awarded for (1) the purpose of developing and implementing training programs to recruit businesses to the state and (2) the training or retraining of people to achieve the CETC workforce goals and the relevant sections of the strategic master plan for higher education developed. Training assistance must target job growth in the areas of insurance, financial services, bioscience, advance manufacturing, digital media, green technology, and tourism.

Expenditures

Under the bill, the board must approve all authority expenditures, except for administrative costs reimbursed to DOL, provided the board may delegate to DOL staff the approval of transactions less than $100,000. Any approval by the board msut be for:

1. an individual specific expenditure;

2. budgeted expenditures with variations as the board may authorize when budget approval is made; or

3. training assistance programs administered by DOL staff, subject to limits, eligibility requirements, and other conditions the authority establishes.

DOL must provide any necessary staff, office space, office systems, and administrative support for the fund's operation. In acting as administrator of the fund, DOL may exercise all of the powers set forth in the bill, provided fund expenditures must be approved by the authority according to the bill's conditions.

The bill requires that administrative costs be paid or reimbursed to DOL from the fund, provided the total administrative costs in any fiscal year do not exceed 5% of the total amount of the allotted funding for that year as determined in the operating budget. Nothing in the bill can be deemed to require DOL to risk or expend the DOL funds in connection with the fund administration.

Application and Approval Process

The bill requires the authority to establish an application and approval process with guidelines and terms for the development and implementation of training programs the fund awards to any eligible recipient.

Under the bill, the guidelines and terms must include: (1) a requirement that any applicant for training assistance operates in the state or propose to relocate operations to the state, in whole or in part, as a condition of the assistance; (2) eligibility requirements for training, including a requirement for applicants to obtain matching funds from nonstate sources; (3) a process for preliminary DOL application review for strength and eligibility before the applications are presented to the board for consideration; (4) return on investment objectives, including, but not limited to, job growth and leveraged investment opportunities; (5) a requirement that any business that receives assistance must first consider applicants who have completed the universal intake form; and (6) other guidelines and terms as the board determines to be necessary and appropriate.

In developing the guidelines, the board must include considerations for the businesses' size and the number of workers employed. Additionally, the board must consider developing training programs and creating career pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Training assistance awarded from the Workforce Training Authority Fund to eligible recipients must be used for costs related to facilities, necessary furniture, fixtures and equipment, development of programs, implementation of training programs, materials and supplies, compensation, apprenticeship, and such other costs that the board determines to be eligible for training assistance under the bill.

Plan of Operations and Budget

The bill requires DOL to prepare an authority operations plan and budget by July 1, 2018 and before the start of each subsequent fiscal year. At least 90 days prior to the start of each fiscal year, the DOL must submit the plan and budget to the Workforce Training Authority Board for its review and approval.

Reporting Requirements

On January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, DOL must provide a report of the fund activities to the authority board for review and approval. After approval, the board must provide the report to the Labor, Commerce and Higher Education and Employment Advancement committees. The report must contain available information on the status and progress of the operations and funding of the fund and the types, amounts, and recipients of financial assistance awarded.

10 — REPORT ON REPORTS

The bill requires the labor commissioner, by December 1, 2017, to submit a report to the Labor, Higher Education and Employment Advancement, and Education committees that includes (1) all workforce reports published in coordination with the Labor Department and other agencies, (2) recommendations for consolidating the reports, and (3) initiatives related to promoting increased interagency data collection and sharing.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

12

Nay

0

(03/09/2017)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

48

Nay

0

(05/12/2017)