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DiDomenico Votes to Address the Skills Gap and Help Unemployed Workers

Legislation Funds Workplace Competitiveness Trust Fund and renames grants after Senator Donnelly

BOSTON- Last week, Senator Sal DiDomenico joined his Senate colleagues in unanimously voting to engross An Act to Diversify the Use of the Workforce Training Fund to Support the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. The legislation, originally filed by the late Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly, and since championed by his successor Senator Cindy Friedman, will ensure a sustainable, predictable source of annual funding for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF).

The WCTF provides high impact job training grants designed to support unemployed and under-employed workers while helping employers across the Commonwealth hire the skilled workers they need to grow. Furthermore, grants issued from the fund are to be re-named the Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants.

“Senator Ken Donnelly was a great friend and a true champion for the working men and women of the Commonwealth, and renaming the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund after him is a fitting tribute to his legacy as a strong advocate for economic opportunity,” said Senator DiDomenico. “I am very proud to support this critical piece of legislation that will strengthen the Commonwealth’s workforce development system and help to put more people on a path to economic stability.”

This bill would allow up to 5% of the state’s Workforce Training Fund, an approximately $22M annual fund supported by employer contributions for incumbent worker training, to be used for the WCTF, a proven sector-based training model that has served hundreds of employers with qualified, skilled employees.

The WCTF was created by the economic stimulus act of 2006 and administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The WCTF funds regional sector training partnerships across the state with the goal of placing unemployed and underemployed workers in jobs that are in demand. Grants from the fund bring together employers in a particular sector, workforce investment boards, career centers, vocational technical schools, community colleges, and workforce training providers.

The bill also ensures that WCTF grants are performance-based, with 50% paid upon enrollment in the program and the remaining 50% to be paid contingent on job placement and retention outcomes.

A broad coalition of stakeholders has advocated for this legislation, including the business community, workforce boards, labor unions, job training providers, and advocates for low-income workers and their families.

Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly served for 37 years as a firefighter and for 8 years as a state senator. He was a staunch believer in the role of unions and government to protect workers, and he was well known for his efforts to advance justice and equality for all people no matter their race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. During his time in the Senate he advocated fiercely for funding for workforce training for unemployed and underemployed workers. 

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.