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Commonwealth's Counties

Workforce Development Reform Bills Advance

HB 2195 (Byron) / SB 1470 (Ruff) would create the Department of Workforce Development and Advancement (the Department) to administer workforce development services and training programs. The bills consolidate various statewide workforce program evaluation and data sharing under the Department and provides protections against improper disclosure of data. The bills also (i) transfer administration of apprenticeship programs from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Department, (ii) creates the Office of Business Engagement and Outreach within the Department, and (iii) directs the Secretary of Labor (the Secretary) to conduct a comprehensive review of the Commonwealth’s workforce development programs and make recommendations to address a wide range of subjects relating to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of such programs. The Secretary is required to convene a stakeholder work group to advise the Secretary during the transition period, among other provisions. These bills are a recommendation of the Small Business Commission.

This legislative effort is backed by the Youngkin Administration and seeks to consolidate, streamline, and improve efficiency of workforce development programs. Virginia currently has more than three dozen state agencies and programs that handle workforce development. Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater provided advance notice of this effort as a guest speaker at VACo’s Education Steering Committee Meeting in August 2022.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 45% percent of business owners reported job openings that were hard to fill. This mirrors data from a July 2022 survey VACo conducted of County Administrators. Anecdotally, even the though majority of county administrators reported having the same level of staff or more positions as they had prior to March of 2020, many administrators reported having difficulties filling open staffing positions. This was particularly the case for positions in the following areas: public safety/first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, EMS paramedics, emergency communications center positions), social services employees, positions that require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and part-time/ seasonal jobs such as parks and recreation and animal shelters.

HB 2195 reported and was referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee on a vote of 12-2-1 on February 15. SB 1470 passed the Senate unanimously on a vote of 40-0 and has been referred to the House Commerce and Energy Committee. VACo will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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