Earlier this month JOTF released a new report exploring the workforce development landscape in Prince George’s County. While the county is faring well in many respects, local workers face a unique mix of challenges, with educational gaps at the top of the list. Our report frames and qualifies these challenges, providing the context for what we hope will be a collaborative effort to identify and implement solutions.
Prince George’s County is part of a thriving regional economy, and the County’s $70,715 median income reflects this. Some of the overall statistics on the county can be deceiving, however, as they mask significant regional disparities. Communities inside the Capital Beltway have much higher rates of unemployment and poverty, for example.
In just a few months the current General Educational Development tests will expire and be replaced with new exams. The 2014 GED test will be aligned with the Common Core standards that are now required in K-12 school systems across the country, and many in the field expect that the tests will become more rigorous. The test, which has traditionally been offered via paper and pencil, will also shift to being offered only by computer.
Since we first blogged about the issue last year, a lot of progress has been made toward answering key questions about the changes and plotting the course for providers working in the field. First, after the GED Testing Service announced that they would be raising the cost of the test to $120, many feared that low-income students would be priced out. To address the issue, the Maryland General Assembly approved funding to subsidize the cost for Maryland test-takers at the current rate of $45. As long as the subsidy remains in place, it will go a long way toward preserving accessibility of the GED test.
Imagine a Baltimore where every resident who wants a job has the skills to go get one. Imagine a workforce system where there are no dead-end jobs; just entry-level jobs that mark the first step on a career ladder. Imagine a community where nonprofits, government agencies, and employers are seamlessly aligned to connect residents to services to jobs.
Making this vision a reality is no small task, but every year we make strides in the right direction. Two years ago, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) was formed with the goal of connecting residents to economic opportunity and revitalizing underserved neighborhoods. Since then, the collaborative of public, private, and nonprofit leaders have worked together to make investments in both human and physical capital, while at the same time advancing policy and systems change.
The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation delivered welcome news to employers Monday. After three years of elevated unemployment insurance tax rates, relief is coming in 2013. Many employers will see their tax rate cut in half from $187 to $85 per employee, and all employers will see at least a 22 percent cut. Most importantly, this is a sign that people are getting back work and that Maryland’s economic recovery is on solid footing. It is also a sign that our unemployment insurance system is working as intended.
It is also a sign that our unemployment insurance system is working as intended. When the recession hit, many were not sure we’d be able to weather the storm while still providing adequate benefits to workers. The fact that rates are dropping shows that it is possible to maintain a strong safety net without putting undue strain on employers.
In 2011, the GED came under new management. The American Council on Education (ACE), who had been operating the test as a non-profit program, formed a partnership with the testing service Pearson. Together they created the GED Testing Service, which will now operate the GED as a for-profit venture.
by Andrea Roethke
In 2005, Pennsylvania created a network of Industry Partnerships. The system brings employers together to strategize around common workforce needs and develop collaborative training initiatives. The state provides support for training, with matching dollars from employers. According to the Pennsylvania Fund for Workforce Solutions, over 6,300 employers have contributed over $75 million in matching funds to train more than 100,000 Pennsylvania workers through the system. In 2011, the state passed legislation formally writing Industry Partnerships into state law.