Education, expanding apprenticeships and workforce training will be the foundation of the King-Siri plan to link unemployed and underemployed Marylanders with in-demand jobs.
The King-Siri team believes that, in addition to following through on the commitment to expanding career and technical education in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, any serious plan for Maryland’s economy must include a comprehensive strategy to help unemployed or underemployed Marylanders gain new skills or leverage existing ones to attain well-paying, family supporting careers in high demand sectors. With help from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds, we have an opportunity to build an economic support system that serves all Marylanders.
COVID-19 has accelerated troubling trends for both workers and employers — displaced workers looking to reestablish their footing in the workforce, while employers in sectors that are thriving are struggling to fill vacancies as they search for qualified workers. Our plan further focuses on underserved communities and reflects a critical theme in the King-Siri economic plan – that a policy agenda that lifts everyone is good for business.
Both current and future Maryland employers in high-demand sectors will need a diverse pipeline of skilled workers to continue to thrive. The King-Siri team will create a bridge for workers in need of employment to attain the skills and credentials needed to meet employer demand. Even those workers who already have the needed skills and credentials need to be connected to jobs. The King-Siri administration will roll out a program that will build this bridge through evidence-based job training and career coaching. Program participants would receive a scholarship that would cover both program costs as well as “wraparound” costs – childcare and transportation. Specifically, the program will:
- Leverage the American Rescue Plan and other funding sources to establish a mechanism to cover (1) program tuition in evidence-based job training connected to real, good jobs, (2) career coaching, and (3) necessary wraparound supports, such as guidance counseling, transportation, and childcare.
- Set up an evaluation system to determine those programs that recipients may attend, based on their impact on good job attainment and wage gains, as well as to assess the quality of job training, support services, and career coaching.
Critical to success will be partnering with institutes of higher learning in Maryland, in particular community colleges, to meet these objectives. – emphasize quality employer relationships and wraparound services, better balance job-specific and foundational skills, and prioritize the tracking of quality jobs that graduates secure. The King-Siri strategy would include a call to action for Maryland’s community colleges to take these steps. To reinforce this call, a King-Siri Administration will announce a series of actions that establish Maryland as the leader in innovative partnerships with community colleges and higher education on pathways to employment:
- Launch a grant challenge, the Governor’s Jobs and Innovation Challenge, aimed at helping higher education institutions launch, test, and scale innovations that improve career and life opportunities after graduation for more students of color as well as first-generation students and those who struggle to afford education.
- Efforts will be constantly evaluated to determine what works best in Maryland communities. And with the right policies in place, more Maryland residents will be employed in high-demand well-paying jobs; they will experience sustained wage growth; we will rapidly address the current labor shortage; and we will create new paths to sustainable employment for historically underserved populations.