June 15, 2014

News release from Council of State Governments:
LEXINGTON, Ky.–State policymakers from around the country will convene in Washington, D.C., June 18-20 to explore “State Pathways to Prosperity,” The Council of State Governments’ workforce development and education initiative.

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the 2014 CSG chairman, and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the 2014 CSG president, lead the national initiative focused on strengthening states’ abilities to fill the demand for skilled workers, which is fueling economic recovery.

“We will not only focus on best practices for successful alignment of labor, education and economic development, but we will also include a focus on important challenges and opportunities related to workforce development like veterans affairs, hunger, children in poverty and criminal justice,” said Norris.

As part of the initiative, Norris and Tomblin have formed a National Task Force comprised of members from state legislatures, higher education, business and industry, governor’s education policy advisers, labor, economic development and CSG Associates.

Four subcommittees focused on veterans’ affairs, hunger and nutrition, children in poverty and criminal justice have also been formed. Challenges associated with those areas, Norris said, can overshadow a person’s ability to pursue gainful employment.

“All too often, we find that workforce development and education are overshadowed, if not overwhelmed, by ever increasing demands for human services. States need to do better dealing with these, not only holistically, but realistically,” said Norris, who serves on Tennessee’s Workforce Development Board.

Following a general overview from Norris, the task force will set the vision, mission and goals for the initiative and discuss the policy landscape involving those underlying issues. CSG’s ultimate goal is to provide an interactive state data dashboard for all members to use as they move forward with action planning around college- and career-readiness leading to job growth.

Speakers at the initial gathering of the task force and its subcommittees will address the demand for more educated workers in advanced manufacturing during an introductory session June 19 at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center.

Norris intends for the initiative to enable CSG to provide a clearinghouse of information and best practices, as well as new resources fostering dialogue that leads to action in the states.

The connection between education and upward mobility is clear and powerful. Simply stated, people with more education have a better chance to become employed, earn a living, support a family, pay taxes and contribute to the community in which they live.

The meeting will include smaller group discussions by three of the four Pathways to Prosperity subcommittees–Child Poverty, Hunger and Nutrition, and Military and Veterans’ Concerns. The subcommittees will issue an initial report to the national task force with a discussion of their scope of work and development of a policy and practice framework for state officials. The Criminal Justice Subcommittee will include the CSG Justice Center.
Subcommittee chairs are:

•Pennsylvania Sen. Michael Brubaker, Subcommittee on Hunger and Nutrition;
•West Virginia Sen. John Unger, Subcommittee on Child Poverty; and
•Nevada Sen. Pat Spearman, Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Concerns.

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