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Talent | Workforce News

  • Mon, March 01, 2021 1:21 PM | Anonymous

    The Biden Administration is calling on businesses big and small to help bring the pandemic to an end. In an advisor sent out by the Director of Private Sector Engagement, the Administration is encouraging employers to follow a few steps or reminders in their workplaces and establishments.  Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Advisor for the COVID Response Team, has indicated the important role the business community can play in supporting recovery efforts through key actions, including the promotion of mask wearing, vaccine accessibility, and more.

    [SEE, Attached Flyer for use by companies]

  • Fri, January 29, 2021 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    As widely reported, President Biden has used an unprecedented number of Executive Orders (E.O.’s, now put at approximately 30) and other directives in the first week of his Administration to cover a wide range of policy areas.  Among the matters addressed two are of particular interest to the design and construction community:  suspension of permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project and halting of any further construction of the fence/wall along the U.S. southern border.  Given the fact both of these infrastructure projects were underway, after extended debate and consideration, the stoppage has directly impacted jobs in our industry.

    (1) The Keystone project will likely layoff over a 1,000 workers, with anywhere from another 10-40,000 never being hired or employed on the pipeline; and 

    (2) With the work being halted on the border fence/wall, former Customs & Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan estimates it will cost approximately 5,000 construction jobs being lost. [NOTE: After obtaining billions of dollars in funding for construction of the border fence/wall over the last four years, the Trump Administration had completed about 450 miles before leaving office].

  • Fri, August 28, 2020 3:39 PM | Anonymous

    During the closing evening at the GOP Convention, workforce issues took center stage with a presentation by Stacia Brightmon, a Marine Corps veteran and single mom that found her calling and career path through an apprenticeship program championed by the Trump Administration spearheaded by the President’s daughter Ivanka. Specifically, Ms. Brightmon a Safety Document Specialist at S & B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. referenced her company’s “Women in Construction Earn While You Learn” apprentice program.  Initiatives like this, and others, have been the center piece of the National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board programs launched by the Trump Administration; that also partner with FindSomethingNew.org which provides a portal to new workforce opportunities.  

    CIRT has been reporting on various aspects of the current Administration’s focus on alternative job paths, including apprenticeships, for some time (See e.g., CIRT stories dated 02/12/20, 02/11/20, etc.).  This extraordinary emphasis seems to reflect the President’s background in the building industry. 

  • Tue, June 30, 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    Re-imagining community colleges and their role in the post-pandemic period is the subject of a new report entitled: “The Indispensable Institution.”  The focus is on upskilling, retraining and providing new training approaches to millions of potential employees in the future.  By stepping forward to fills this gap, the community colleges will play a vital role for a host of industries, including those in the design/construction community.  [Read report for details].

  • Fri, May 01, 2020 1:36 PM | Anonymous

    The Relaunching America's Workforce Act” (RAWA), was introduced on Friday, May 1st, by the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman, Bobby Scott along with a co-led effort in the Senate by Tim Kaine. RAWA seeks to provide both immediate and long-term supports to the U.S. workforce. The proposed funding structure mirrors “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the stimulus bill passed in 2009 to address the Great Recession. Funding for the workforce system will be funneled through existing channels, to get resources to the local level as quickly as possible. RAWA aims to keep people on the job now, while also putting people back to work when necessary. The bill focuses on maintaining core elements of WIOA and Perkins CTE legislation by concentrating on the most vulnerable populations, while recognizing the definition of “vulnerable” will change due to the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring support will be provided to those most effected. The act increases flexibility so more funding can be used for training, supportive services, and career services.  It is unclear how far this proposed bill will go, given the White House and the Republican majority in the Senate has yet to come onboard or offer any support/changes to the proposal.

    Summary of Bill’s Key Provisions:

    • Provides eligibility flexibility and maintaining eligibility for use. This legislation expands on increased eligibility offered in the CARES Act, ensuring that all individuals in need of WIOA services are able to access them.
    • Expands eligibility so anyone can access individualized career services.
    • This eligibility extends to all in the labor force, including the "gig" or independent contract worker.
    • Expands the allowable amount of funds used on incumbent workers to 40%.
    • Makes allowable 40% of funds for transitional jobs, including public sector jobs.
    • Allows 75% of employee wages eligible to be reimbursed for on the job training.
    • Allows for an additional 10% of allocated funds for governor's reserve to be used for COVID-19 response.
    • Requires states to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan within 60 days of funds being distributed.
    • Requires that at least 50% of dislocated worker grants to be distributed in 60 days.
    • Makes allowable 1/3 of adult education funds to be used on incumbent worker training and employer supports.
    • Native American Grants expanded eligibility to individuals at up to 150% of poverty line.
    • No funds for this act may be used for IRAPs or SREs.

  • Wed, April 08, 2020 1:33 PM | Anonymous

    Leading Your People and Organization Through COVID-19

    Part 1:  Leadership Communication During a Crisis

    The challenge of making quick, tough decisions with limited information should not be foreign to any leader, but the stakes are raised in times of great uncertainty. In addition to simply disseminating critical information throughout your organization, the right communication builds employee confidence and trust in leadership. This article explores five key components of strong communication that will help leadership navigate the uncertainty and ensure a more well-positioned organization on the other side of the crisis.

    Part 2:  Critical Project Restart Strategies

    With the goal of preventing COVID-19 transmission by adhering to quarantine rules and dealing with “stay at home” guidelines, construction projects nationwide are currently being shuttered. According to AGC’s most recent industry snapshot, almost 30% of companies surveyed have been directed by an owner, government agency or official to halt or delay work on any projects that are either active or expected to start within the next 30 days.

    Provided by FMI Corporation

  • Wed, April 01, 2020 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    Among the steps taken by Congress, beyond the $2.0 trillion-plus economic package, is “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA) which provides for paid sick leave from April 1, 2020 -- December 31, 2020.  Under the Act, full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours they work in a two-week period.

    Paid sick leave can be used for the following reasons:

    1.      The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to the coronavirus;

    2.      The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the coronavirus;

    3.      The employee is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;

    4.      The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in reason (1) or has been advised as described in reason (2).

    5.      The employee is caring for their child if the child's school or place of care has been closed, or the child's childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

    6.      The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

    Employees who go on paid sick leave for reasons (1), (2), or (3) will be paid at their regular rate of pay. Employees who use their leave for reasons (4), (5), or (6) will be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. In no event, however, shall the paid sick leave exceed $511.00 per day or $5,110.00 in the aggregate for reasons (1), (2), or (3), or $200.00 per day or $2,000.00 in the aggregate for reasons (4), (5), or (6).

    Attached is a SAMPLE template for possible use by your firm’s employees to apply for leave under the FFCRA; and the DOL’s FFCRA Notice which should be posted in a conspicuous place on your premises or emailed to employees working remotely. 

  • Tue, March 31, 2020 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    Part of the $2 trillion emergency pandemic relief bill (CARES Act) is intended to help secure American employees and the businesses that employ them.  Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, has made a number of public appearances adding some new information and details as to the mechanisms that are being planned to deploy these funds. In sum, the Secretary has noted that there are essentially three components in the new law related to employees:

    (1) Small Business Loans: It is estimated about half of the businesses in the United States will be eligible to obtain small business loans to pay their employees for approximately (8) eight weeks (local banks are being enlisted as the delivery mechanism for those firms eligible);

    (2) Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI): The law adds $600 to the normal state UI payment levels for a period of four months. (This has been controversial given the combined amount in some cases could exceed what an individual would normally receive if working). From all indications, employees would file through the normal state unemployment insurance mechanisms to be in line for these payments; and

    (3) Individuals/Family Financial Support: The law provides individuals with incomes under $75,000 with a $1,200 payment, with a prorated amount up to $99,000. Couples who file a joint tax return can get up to $2,400 (income not exceeding $150,000) along with a $500 per child supplement.  The issue has been: how will these payments reach the eligible individuals?  The Secretary has provided some guidance and clarity on this point; namely, the government will look to the 2018 income tax returns.  Those eligible that filed and provided direct deposits banking information on their returns could begin seeing checks deposited to those accounts in about three weeks.  Those that had paper government checks sent to them in 2018, will have longer to wait, but can shorten the time by using a new web-based system that can be uploaded (when ready), so they can get their support sooner without waiting for checks to come in the mail from the IRS.

    Finally, in addition to these three components the Federal Reserve has been authorized to spend $450 billion in loans, etc. to add liquidity to the market place in the hope of keeping firms/businesses afloat until some normalcy returns.

  • Mon, March 30, 2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    If your firm has not already been subject to or implemented paid family/medical leave requirements, the new emergency act (i.e., “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” or FFCRA) that passed last week has created new requirements for firms under 500-employees. The Department of Labor (DOL) released initial guidance clarifying several provisions set forth in (FFCRA); including: a model notice, some guidance for handling the notice requirements, along with an updated Questions and Answers (Q&A) document to address many more items [The (Q&A) information and model notice noted below can be helpful to firms of ABOVE 500 employees as well.

    Model Notice

    Private employers with less than 500 employees who are required to comply with the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Expanded FMLA requirements going into effect April 1, 2020 are required to provide employees with information about the paid leave. As with other DOL posters (e.g. FMLA and USERRA), the general requirement is that employers must post the notice in a conspicuous location on their premises. However, the DOL recognized that under the current circumstances, many employees may not be working onsite. Therefore, employers can also satisfy the notice requirement if the notice is made available on the employer’s website, or if the notice is mailed or emailed to employees.
    The model notice, as well as a Q&A providing instructions for the notice can be found here - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic 

    Additional DOL Questions and Answers

    DOL has provided an updated Q&A documentproviding information on some of the paid leave requirements taking effect on (4/1/2020) and how to count employees for purposes of the 500 employees threshold. The clarifications include, among other things:
    • Documentation requirements for those employees requesting paid leave;
    • The availability of paid leave for employees who are permitted to telework;
    • The availability of paid leave for employees who are furloughed or laid off;
    • When intermittent paid leave may be available;
    • The ability for employees to supplement paid leave with other employer-provided paid leave; and
    • Continuation of group health benefits during and after paid leave.

    There are certainly still questions to be answered. DOL is expect to provide further guidance over the next couple of weeks, but the Q&A document is helpful in supplying some direction for employers who are preparing to comply with these new paid leave requirements next week. [NOTE: The DOL has promised some flexibility around enforcement through April 17, 2020, during which time the DOL indicates it would prefer to work with employers to help them understand and comply with the requirements. Employers will not be penalized for failure to comply during this period if the employer is making reasonable, good faith efforts to comply].  The updated DOL FAQ can be found here - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

  • Wed, February 12, 2020 2:53 PM | Anonymous

    The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 federal budget and appropriations process has begun with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress. The president’s budget proposal is not binding, but rather a reflection of the Administration’s priorities for the year and can serve to inform congressional negotiations over spending decisions and new policy proposals.  With respect to CTE, the budget proposal included nearly $900 million in additional funding directed to career and technical education (CTE). This is composed of a $680 million increase (53%) for Perkins Basic State Grants, approximately $83 million increase (1112.8%) for Perkins National Programs (with a focus on competitive grants for innovation and modernization of programs), and over $100 million in additional funds that could be generated for Perkins through changes to the H-1B visa program. The AP reported in part the CTE spending: “would be a historic federal infusion into a spending area that’s been stagnant for years” . . . (giving what the President believes are strong career paths) . . . “for students as alternatives to a four-year degree.”  However, these spending levels were paired with some decreases to both the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor (DOL), wherein the President’s ED budget came in 7.8% lower than the enacted FY 2020 level, while the DOL budget came in 10.7% lower. [Much of the proposed cuts will not likely be included in the final appropriations as they wind through Congress, even if some are warranted given the programs are either outdated, redundant, or ineffectual]. 

    Nevertheless, the new budget request signals a large shift toward prioritizing CTE for the current Administration, (something the Opportunity America Jobs and Career Coalition, including CIRT have advocated). However, as noted both historically and in the current political environment Presidential budgetary requests have not fared well in Congress. Further, the two-year budget deal that was signed into law last year provided only a small increase in Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) funding for FY 2021 (which includes the Departments of Education and Labor). This will make it difficult for Congress to give any NDD program a significant increase. Within this context, the community will need to continue to fight hard, be vocal, and press for CTE spending at levels not seen during the appropriations process.

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