Introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley and passed during this year’s General Assembly session, EARN — which stands for Employment Advancement Right Now — is a new job training initiative that helps to identify common workforce needs for high-demand occupations such as construction, traditional and advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and health care. Through industry-led regional job creation and workforce development partnerships, education and training strategies are created to address those shortages.
The EARN initiative will be managed by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), and will encourage regional workforce training collaborations among businesses, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, community colleges, local workforce investment boards, local governments and various types of workforce training providers.
Supported by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, EARN is a proven strategy for providing Maryland’s employers with skilled workers. Among similar initiatives around the country, this approach led to skills advancement, career building opportunities and increased wages. In a survey of employers participating in sector partnerships in Massachusetts, 41% reported reduced turnover; 19% reported less rework on the job; 23% reported fewer customer complaints; and 100% of the companies said that participation in a sector partnership was valuable.
Sector strategies are among the few interventions with a growing body of evidence showing improved employment opportunities and wages for workers, as well as increased productivity and other positive outcomes for employers. An estimated 1,000 regional sector partnerships are operating across the country. More than 25 states are exploring or implementing sector strategies as a way to address industry needs through education and training programs.
Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis through an application process. DLLR will release the EARN grant solicitations in the fall of 2013. Grant awards will be announced within one year from that date. For more information on the grant process, visit www.earn.maryland.gov.