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2023 Top States Workforce Development Programs

Having a workforce with the right skills is an integral part of being a Top State for Doing Business — that’s why training programs are so important.

Q3 2023

Workforce Training Programs

  1. 1. Georgia
  2. 2. Virginia
  3. 3. South Carolina
  4. 4. Louisiana
  5. 5. Alabama
  6. 6. Tennessee
  7. 7. North Carolina
  8. 8. Indiana
  9. 9. Arizona
  10. 10. Ohio

Employers often say that people are the most important part of their success. They’re doing the work, creating the innovations, serving the customers. Without the right people, and enough of them, an enterprise is likely to falter.

That’s what makes workforce training such a critical part of what it takes to be a Top State for Doing Business. And it’s why we’re putting some extra spotlight on this topic.

Georgia sits atop the list of states with the best workforce training opportunities. At the heart is the state’s Quick Start program. It’s offered through the Technical College System of Georgia and delivers customized training targeted at new and expanding businesses. Companies in manufacturing, biotechnology, information technology, and other sectors need tech-savvy workers with specific skills, and this program has helped attract those businesses to Georgia.

SK Battery America began mass production of electric vehicle batteries last year in Jackson County, and as it ramped up for that milestone the company was able to significantly beat its hiring goal. “The state’s Quick Start program has helped us attract and train workers with a speed and scale that would be difficult for any company to do on its own,” says the company’s CEO, Timothy Jeong.

Virginia, landing second on this list, has its own top-notch training programs to boast, and its programs have helped land a number of big deals. Lego Group, for example, is building a billion-dollar manufacturing facility that it will populate with all kinds of automation technicians, engineers, IT professionals, and others. The company and state officials are busily developing training and recruitment programs.

Leading the way in this state is the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program brought together by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Community College System. The program aims to accelerate new facility and expansion through tailored recruitment and training services. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program also facilitates customized recruitment and training services but by means of grant funding of up to a thousand dollars per eligible job impacted. Companies pick their own training and recruitment providers.

In third-ranked South Carolina, a wide range of employer resources assist in various situations. SC Works, for example, helps employers through the process of screening, matching, hiring, training, and retaining. And its experts help expanding companies to sort through available workforce programs and tax credits. Specialized programs include one supported by local technical colleges providing training resources for the state’s auto suppliers to tap into during periods of slowed production, so that when they ramp back up, they have upskilled workers on the factory floor.

The LED FastStart program from Louisiana Economic Development has been around for a decade and a half, providing customized recruitment and screening, as well as development and delivery of customized training, ranging from hands-on simulations to interactive e-learning modules.

All kinds of businesses can tap into LED FastStart resources, including manufacturing, software, corporate headquarters, warehouse and distribution, R&D, and digital media. And by the way, there’s no cost. The program is one of the reasons this state lands at #4 on the workforce training list, and also one of the reasons it landed a billion-dollar promise from First Solar for a solar panel plant worth 700 jobs.

Customized technical training can be had for free in #5 Alabama, too, including through AIDT. Companies share what they think the ideal applicant would look like, AIDT assesses applicants and creates a company-specific training program, and once the best candidates are chosen, AIDT delivers job training and process improvement. The program has trained roughly a million people.

Alabama’s industries are strong partners in training and preparing the workforce. Take the state’s auto industry as an example. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama has a Hyundai Initiative for Robotics Excellence program that creates robotics teams and programs at public schools. Meanwhile, Toyota Alabama is investing in public STEM education in this state ranked fifth for its workforce development programs.

Tennessee, ranking sixth on this list, takes a holistic approach to delivering a well-trained and qualified workforce. There are multiple programs that together are aimed at giving Tennesseans a solid educational foundation that employers can easily tap into and build upon. The GIVE initiative, short for Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education, is expanding access to vocational and technical training at the high school level. The Tennessee Promise ensures that high school graduates can access two years of tuition-free training at a community college or technical school. There’s also a program aimed at Tennessee adults who don’t have an advanced degree, offering them free access to community college.

North Carolina places seventh with its well-honed reputation for training and educating its workforce. NCWorks, the statewide workforce system, is one example. Its job training programs include both classroom instruction and on-the-job training. There are customized training opportunities along with the potential for employer reimbursement. Also available are recruiting services that range from advice on trends to hands-on help with the candidate search. There are 80 career centers across North Carolina.

Indiana moves onto this list in the #8 spot with such programs as the Employer Training Grant. It’s reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee helps employers train, hire and retain workers in various priority industry sectors such as advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, transportation and logistics, IT and business services, building and construction, and agriculture. Beyond the grants, there are apprenticeship programs, recruitment programs, and other resources.

Arizona is ninth, and its “Business First” navigator program is one of the reasons. It’s no-cost talent acquisition assistance from the Arizona Commerce Authority, and as the word “navigator” suggests, it’s intended to guide businesses through a variety of workforce-related needs, including both training and recruiting. In fact, Arizona’s navigators also help companies figure out federal workforce programs, which is an area a lot of states don’t cover.

The state has, for many years, been a leader in semiconductor industry talent, and that has helped it Arizona land billions of dollars in investments in the past few years. Universities have helped build that talent, along with other training programs involving industry partners. A new BuilditAZ initiative aims to add deep benches of talent in various trades through apprenticeships.

The 10th slot on this all-important list goes to Ohio. Its Office of Workforce Transformation is one of the ways Ohio aims to keep its workforce trained for what’s coming next — for example, a new electric vehicle workforce strategy focuses on preparing the state to meet the talent needs of that booming sector.

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