MACo and county leaders explore workforce development priorities in The Blueprint and potentially opportunities for counties to lead.
On January 20, MACo held a virtual webinar on The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (The Blueprint) and workforce development initiatives built into the landmark education reform law. Specifically, the webinar explored new State funding for career counseling for Maryland’s high school students on career-based post-high school paths in the same manner schools coach students in university and college opportunities.
All county officials — new and seasoned — were invited to the virtual chat, which saw participation from every region of the state.
The January 20 call invite read:
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future law places as a strong and deeper emphasis on career and technical education. Local workforce investment boards are best-suited to help build out these programs, and The Blueprint agrees, providing an opportunity and resources for county workforce boards to help implement this aspect of the law.
Joining the conversation was Brandon Butler who represents the Maryland Workforce Association. Butler previously served as Allegany County Administrator and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Development and Adult Learning at Maryland’s Department of Labor.
The Blueprint and workforce development
The Blueprint places a deeper emphasis on alternative education and workforce development – especially on career and technical education (CTE), and on providing Maryland high schoolers with direct career paths outside of the college or university route. Many counties have already started beefing up your partnerships with your local community college or have introduced new apprenticeship and skills programs. The MACo webinar, however, focused on a lesser-known workforce initiative of The Blueprint — more on that below.
Butler’s presentation centered around a lesser-known Blueprint initiave: State per-pupil funding for local education agencies (LEAs) to prioritize career counseling. The Blueprint allocates $62 per-pupil to be used for this purpose, and it smartly acknowledges that local workforce development boards are best-suited to manage such programming and resources.
What are workforce development boards?
Maryland has 13 local workforce development boards. Some serve individual counties, whereas others are regional, serving several counties.
The importance of supporting workforce development boards in this initiative
Outside of fulfilling Blueprint requirements, Maryland counties have several unique opportunities in The Blueprint per-pupil career counseling initiative. All 24 counties are experiencing a real workforce challenge for both, the county government and private industries to hire and retain skilled labor. This new career counseling initiative has the potential for counties to:
- Utilize workforce development as another tool to transform communities
- Serve local businesses struggling to find skilled labor
- Fill county vacancies relying on trade skills
Additionally, the 2023 General Assembly legislative session has already seen several bills introduced related to K-12 schools and workforce development, and more expected in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more on The Blueprint, workforce development, and other timely issues.
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