Brown signs $200 million ‘Future Ready Oregon’ workforce training plan

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The plan targets jobs in health care, manufacturing and construction.

Governor Kate Brown signs her $200 million ‘Future Ready Oregon’ labor spending plan at the Intel campus in Hillsboro, Oregon on April 5, 2022. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

HILLSBORO — Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday signed into law a $200 million labor spending plan aimed at helping more Oregonians find well-paying jobs in health care, manufacturing and construction.

The plan, dubbed “Future Ready Oregon,” is likely Brown’s last legislative victory before she leaves the governor’s office in January. This will mean a skilled workforce and better prospects for working families, she said as she signed the bill at Intel’s Hillsboro campus.

“As the State of Oregon writes its next chapter, we must ensure that every Oregonian, regardless of race, gender, income, faith, zip code or lack thereof, has opportunity to thrive,” she said.

Dozens of lawmakers, business leaders and people who worked on the spending package surrounded Brown as she signed the bill under an Intel-branded tent. Job training funded by the new law could prepare Oregonians for work at Intel, which makes microprocessor chips and is the Portland metro area’s largest employer with about 20,000 employees.

“We are thrilled that Future Ready Oregon is an investment in the people of Oregon and future Intel talent,” said Jeff Birdsall, vice president of technology development for the company.

Some onlookers shivered during the hour-long outdoor ceremony, and Brown revised his prepared comments to acknowledge the chilly spring weather.

“If it were a little warmer, we could roll up our sleeves and get to work building a skilled and diverse workforce,” Brown said.

The plan, which was developed primarily by Brown’s Racial Justice Council, targets people of color, women and people who live in rural communities or have low incomes. About $120 million of the $200 million came from federal funding through the US Bailout Act of 2021, with the state picking up the rest.

He understands:

-$95 million for community organizations to distribute to workers to subsidize costs like childcare, housing and transportation as they learn new skills.

-$35 million for local labor boards to recruit and train workers.

-$20 million for apprenticeship programs at the State Bureau of Labor and Industries.

-$15 million for community college career programs.

-$10.5 million for the Oregon Department of Education to help youth gain paid work experience or train for employment.

– $10 million in grants to community colleges to develop more opportunities for students to earn academic credit for skills they learn outside of school.

-$10 million for local labor boards to connect job seekers with other benefits they may be eligible for.

Patsy Richards, who runs an apprenticeship program for certified practical nurses and co-chairs the group that developed the plan, said it will help people find and keep jobs.

“It’s not just barriers to entry,” Richards said. “There are barriers to retention.”

She provided lawmakers with examples of those obstacles during committee hearings earlier this year. A member of her apprenticeship program couldn’t afford to buy new uniforms, and she realized that clothing and tools were something that apprenticeship programs could give people to complete their training. And even parents who qualify for subsidized child care may be deterred from working if their wages aren’t high enough to cover the remaining child care costs.

Brown said the plan requires a change in thinking about child care if needed. A separate $1.2 billion spending package she signed earlier this month includes about $100 million to increase the amount the state pays to subsidize child care for low-income families. income, recruit and train more childcare providers, and help existing facilities expand.

“Approaching workforce development through an equity lens is really the heart and soul of this legislation,” she said. “This means identifying barriers to career advancement for underserved communities, providing supports to help individuals overcome those barriers, and considering those supports – such as access to child care or high throughput – as critical infrastructure.”

Brown said Oregon would begin to see the effects of the new funding immediately. For example, Oregon Tradeswomen, one of the groups that worked on the spending plan and will likely receive money from it, has provided job training and other resources to about 1,000 women a year in recent years on a budget approximately $2 million.

“This will allow a program like Oregon Tradeswomen to double or triple its capacity,” Brown said. “These women are leaving the program to pursue apprenticeship programs across the state. I think you are going to see the impacts immediately.

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