Sectors Bill advances in California.

May 23, 2012

UPDATE: The California Senate passed SB 1401 shortly after it cleared the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. The bill will now be considered by the State Assembly. National Skills Coalition will continue to work with its state partners to develop a strategy to build support for the bill in the Assembly.

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May 2, 2012

On April 25, the California Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations took a strong step forward towards ensuring California’s workers and industries have skills to compete in the 21st Century Economy by unanimously passing Senate Bill 1401. This legislation requires the state workforce investment board to adopt new guiding principles to create a statewide industry sector initiative, as part of its strategic plan, to better position California’s workforce system to meet the skill needs of workers and industry. State Senator Ted Lieu (District 28), who chairs the committee, introduced the bill. NSC state policy staff worked closely with its California partners and members to organize support for the bill ahead of the committee hearing. 

Senate Bill 1401 seeks to address two diametrically opposed problems facing California’s economy: jobs going unfilled in key industries, while a record number of Californians are still out of work. It provides parameters for the Board to create a statewide industry sector strategy, which includes the following:  

  • Initiate collaborative efforts for the purposes of eliminating barriers and aligning state and local Workforce Investment Act funding streams and policies and developing regional alliances of employers and workforce and education professionals. These alliances should work to improve the educational pipeline, establish career pathways leading to industry-recognized credentials and certificates, build paths of career advancement for current and future workers in identified industry sectors, and maximize state and local investments to carry out this work;
  • Identify industry sectors critical to the state, regional economies, and local workforce investment areas, especially emerging sectors, with the potential to generate new jobs and income growth for the state on an annual basis; 
  • Provide an annual skills-gap analysis for identified industry sectors;
  • Develop list of high-priority in-demand occupations for the state, its regional economies, and its local workforce investment areas, using labor market data. This list should inform investment decisions and eligible training provider policies; and
  • Establish criteria for the Workforce Investment Act eligible training provider list to ensure that eligible training programs lead to employment in high-demand, high-priority, and high-wage occupations, particularly in industry sectors facing skill shortages.

NSC Board member and JVS San Francisco Executive Director Abby Snay, and Business Leaders United member and Director of Workforce Planning & Development for John Muir Health Jan Hunter testified at the bill’s hearing, along with NSC State Policy Director Eric Seleznow. Now that the bill has passed out of Committee, it moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and then on to a full Senate vote. NSC state policy staff will continue to work with California workforce stakeholders to educate state policymakers on the merits of this bill.