US Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan hosts US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh as Co-Chair of National Governors Association committee meeting

by Jul 13, 2021Coronavirus, Economy, United States Virgin Islands0 comments

US Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh joined Community Renewal Co-Chairs US Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) and Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) on Thursday, July 8, at the NGA Virtual Summer Meeting.

Governors Bryan and Parson led the discussion on workforce development in their state and territory, and they were joined by Governors Dan McKee (D) of Rhode Island, Jared Polis (D) of Colorado, and Tom Wolfe (D) of Pennsylvania to discuss innovative executive branch, congressional and state-level policy solutions.

Governor Bryan said that workforce development begins in pre-kindergarten, as the Bryan-Roach Administration announced registration opening for the Sugarapple Pre-Kindergarten program and hosted a ribbon-cutting for the new Charlotte Amalie High School Annex that will be used by ninth-grade students this school year.

Secretary Walsh said he is pushing Congress to make sure that job training dollars get into the infrastructure bill and plans to strengthen and expand JobCorps pathways into good jobs.

“If you can’t get into a trade or apprenticeship, Job Corps is a viable option,” Secretary Walsh told the governors.

Secretary Walsh said the Biden Administration will help states and territories build capacity for near-term innovation and longer-term strategy to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID-19 economy.

“Every vulnerable community is being addressed. Secretary Walsh gets it,” Governor Bryan said. “Workforce Development is key and is the pathway out of poverty, as JobCorps is brought deeper into the fold.” 

The governors and the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education plan to target dropouts; devote integrated and specific attention to community colleges; advance digital access and skill development; and enhance equity and job quality for all workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped large segments of the US economy. Governors are working to secure assistance for displaced workers and affected businesses while building new frameworks and interventions to support a more equitable economic recovery.

Across the states and territories, they are focused on pre-kindergarten all the way up to high school, free college tuition for residents in the Virgin Islands, and at other colleges, alongside consideration for all the apprenticeships. 

“Every student has a laptop and we’ve started pre-kindergarten in the Virgin Islands,” Governor Bryan told the NGA Committee.

The Virgin Islands has established the VI Department of Labor as a State Registered Apprenticeship Agency (RAP) and held its first workforce summit focused on the development of apprenticeships in the Virgin Islands’ in-demand industries and occupations. There are currently three RAPs sponsors covering six occupations.

The territory is using Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds, through the “Skills for Today” initiative, to build capacity in disaster recovery-related jobs. The aim is to build resiliency in the local workforce by offering training and work-based learning opportunities that offer practical experience.

The US Virgin Islands also has developed a holistic workforce plan that invests $12 million across two years to create workforce development infrastructure, programs, and services that will increase access to opportunities for more VI residents and employer resources that support economic growth.

The American Rescue Plan is significant for governors, especially, their rural and urban agendas, which goes hand-in-hand with President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda. High-quality care for every family, home care for aging parents, and training and coaching for employees are at the nucleus of their strategic plans.