2012 Public Policy Agenda
Our advocacy work stems from a recognition that a healthy Maryland economy requires public policies that meet the workforce needs of employers and promote fair and equitable access to economic opportunities for low-income Marylanders.
During the 2012 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that promote employment and training opportunities for out-of-work residents, ex-offender reentry, and best-practice hiring policies.
Enhance training, employment opportunities for low-skill, low-wage workers
Maryland’s low-income workers need access to training in order to advance in the workplace and obtain jobs with family supporting wages. In these challenging economic times when jobs are scarce and employers are looking for workers with specific skills, it is even more important for the state to increase its investment in training and hiring, and to develop clear employment pipelines that allow low-skill and hard-to-employ workers to advance through training and into the workforce.
- Expand state and local policies to increase employment opportunities for low-skill adults through public works expenditures.
- Ensure that the state’s training programs are effective and linked to career pathways that lead to high-wage jobs.
- Increase funding for workforce training programs that will upgrade the skills of entry level and incumbent workers.
- Reduce the barriers for adults to obtain a driver’s license.
Promote successful re-entry and employment of ex-offenders.
Each year approximately 15,000 inmates return from prison to communities across Maryland. Their criminal record and low education levels are enormous barriers to mainstream employment. By adopting policies that will promote the long-term employment of former inmates, we can help ensure that these Marylanders find legitimate work, contribute to the economy, and turn their lives around.
- Reduce the impact of a criminal background on employment.
- Remove the question from job applications that asks applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime.
- Address the issue of child support arrearages.
- Encourage inmate completion of education and training programs.
Adopt best-practice hiring policies
As employers compete to bring in the best talent, the state should be proactive and strategic when it comes to recruiting the best employees and providing fair workplace and hiring standards.
- Promote the establishment of targeted hiring goals for local, minority, and disadvantaged workers on projects that use public funds.
- Encourage cities and counties throughout the state to focus on hiring the most qualified workers. Solicitations for proposals should contain inclusive – rather than exclusive – language as it relates to hiring people with criminal records.
- Enhance best practices that move lower skilled residents into the workplace quickly.
Preserve the safety for vulnerable Marylanders
As more Marylanders are forced to turn to the state for assistance in meeting their basic needs during these difficult economic times, it is important to ensure that the state’s safety net programs are protected and that data accurately captures the reality of working adults struggling for academic advancement. As legislators struggle to balance the budget, agencies serving the state’s most vulnerable residents should be spared from harmful cuts.
- Preserve Maryland’s unemployment insurance system to ensure that out of work residents receive appropriate assistance.
- Ensure that a “jobs package” or other initiative effectively targets those most in need of assistance.
- Protect low-income residents from harmful budget cuts.
- Ensure that the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) tracks students who take a nontraditional path such as those who enter the adult education system or those who enter directly into noncredit occupational programs.