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BLU launches new State Affiliate Network to advance skills policy in key states

Business Leaders United (BLU) is pleased to announce the launch of the BLU State Affiliate Network. This network establishes a 15-state based coalition of business and industry leaders with a commitment to advancing skills policy solutions to meet the workforce needs of local employers in those states.

We are launching this network at a critical time. Businesses are struggling to find trained workers to fill skilled positions and workers want to see greater investment in skills training.

The BLU State Affiliate Network is uniquely-positioned to meet those challenges by developing industry-led state policy solutions, scaling what works – especially for small-and medium-sized businesses – across states, and using that to drive federal policy innovation towards even better solutions for workforce development and postsecondary education.

Coalition-building and partnership with ACCE

For the first cohort of BLU state affiliates, BLU has identified a lead organization—a local chamber of commerce, economic development organization, or industry association—who will facilitate the outreach and coordination of peer business organizations around the state in order to develop a shared skills policy agenda that represents the needs and perspectives of the state’s diverse industry community around workforce development and skills training.

The BLU State Affiliate Network is being developed in partnership with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). With a network of over 1300 member chambers across the U.S., ACCE will play a critical role in bringing industry partners together across each state to engage in these coalitions and cultivate skills policy advocates among their respective memberships.

Inaugural Coalitions

The first cohort of partners in the BLU State Affiliate Network in 2019 are:

  • California: Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Georgia: Douglas County Economic Development Authority
  • Indiana: Indy Chamber
  • Michigan: Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
  • North Carolina: Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
  • Tennessee: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Washington: Association of Washington Business and Greater Spokane, Inc.

The BLU State Affiliate Network will work hand-in-hand with National Skills Coalition’s SkillSPAN (Skills State Policy Advocacy Network) to establish a shared skills policy agenda among workforce development practitioners, training providers, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders in the workforce system across the SkillSPAN network. By working in partnership on shared agenda items, SkillSPAN coalitions and BLU affiliates will achieve policy wins for workers, businesses, and the economy.

Key policy priorities

  • Expanding apprenticeship and work-based Learning. Allowing workers to learn while they earn – building skills that grow their careers while meeting the workforces needs of businesses.
  • Making financial aid available to people seeking skills training. Expanding financial aid for workers who seek high-quality, short-term training programs to improve their job and career prospects and help them attain the skills that employers need.
  • Investing in sector partnerships that are driven by local businesses. Local partnerships between businesses, human services providers, and the workforce and education systems can help inform more effective training, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and higher education policies. These partnerships also help establish a shared industry skill/credential standard across companies, as well as shared pathways and performance metrics across related programs.
  • Future of Work ReSkilling. Workers in about two-thirds of the jobs in the U.S. will need to upgrade their skills in the coming years to keep pace with new technologies. Which means more investments in skills training is needed to prepare workers today for the jobs of tomorrow.
  • Upskilling an entrylevel workforce. Working in partnership with local schools, community organizations, and community colleges to provide businesses with the infrastructure support they need to help entry-level workers grow and succeed.
  • Advancing policies that improve data systems and tools. Every student, every family, and every worker deserves access to secure, transparent, and easily accessible data that tells them exactly which education programs will give them the best return on investment. Expanding and aligning state data systems and publicly-available data tools is key to ensuring that industry, policymakers, and the public know which programs provide workers the skills that industry demands.

This initiative is made possible by the support of Ballmer Group and J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation.

For more information about the BLU State Affiliate Network, please contact robg@businessleadersunited.org


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