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Blue Ribbon Task Force makes recommendations for creating a clearer path to jobs for West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aligning the Roles and Missions of the State Community and Technical College System and Workforce Development System has made its final recommendations for creating greater efficiencies across state government that will better support West Virginians seeking assistance through education, training, workforce, and human services programs.

Gov. Justice established the Blue Ribbon Task Force by Executive Order last June to clear the hurdles West Virginians too often face when trying to enter the workforce. The Task Force, chaired by Deputy Chief of Staff Ann Urling, is comprised of representatives of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Department of Commerce, Workforce West Virginia, West Virginia Department of Economic Development, West Virginia Regional Workforce Boards, West Virginia Department of Education, and the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia.

Finding that the state’s current systems are too difficult for people to understand and navigate, resulting in West Virginians falling through the cracks, the Task Force’s recommendations to Gov. Justice are to:

Make it Easier for Citizens to be Successful
• Create a common application to make it easier for citizens to enroll in services across organizations;
• Set up a workgroup to engineer case management referral and training support infrastructure;
• Expand Jobs and Hope case management services and train case managers to be familiar with all SNAP, TANF, federal and state financial aid, and core workforce programs;
• Preferably locate several services in one location;
• Pay for the expansion of case management through the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Medicaid Waiver, maximizing federal funds.

Get State Agencies on the Same Page
• Develop a combined plan for West Virginia that will include, but not be limited to, Perkins, WIOA, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); this is where the federal government is headed, which would make us a national leader;
• Establish shared metrics or goals that agencies are measured on that are important to the state;
• Have DHHR explore policy changes that drive accountability for benefit recipients to comply with job placement opportunities;
• Establish a strong state workforce development board that meets regularly with regional boards and creates a sense of accountability to the state.

Eliminate Duplication
• Develop a workgroup of agencies to assess duplicative expenditures and other budgetary efficiencies;
• Conduct asset mapping, including a real estate review and examination of shared location expenses.
Outreach to Business and Industry
• Create incentives for employers to engage with the state and its partners;
• Adopt best practices from other states and organizations that could include the development of a West Virginia employer engagement toolkit;
• Prioritize strategic communications with employers, so they know what opportunities are available to them.

The Task Force and its subcommittees – Data Sharing, Cross Training, Co-Enrollment, Agency Integration, and Employer Engagement – met regularly since June to find solutions that will more strongly align credentialed training programs at community and technical colleges with the state’s workforce development programs.

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