- Report Published -
|The Labor Force Needs of the 1990's|
|SJR 64 (1990)|
|A. Authority for Study|
A joint subcommittee to study the labor force needs of the 1990's ("the subcommittee") was established by the General Assembly in 1988 pursuant to House Joint Resolution No. 159. The resolution requested the joint subcommittee to "study how well Virginia's training, retraining, vocational education, and placement programs are preparing individuals to meet the labor force needs of the 1990's and beyond." Continued by the legislature in 1989 (by House Joint Resolution No. 362), the study was inactive in its second year. At the 1990 Session, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution No. 64, which appears as Appendix A of this report, to authorize completion of the study.
The subcommittee was comprised of seen members as follows: two members from the House Labor and Commerce Committee, one member from the House Education Committee, and one member from the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, all appointed by the Speaker of the House; and one member from the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, one member from the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and one member from the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, all appointed by the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.
B. Overview of the Study
During 1980's, analysts focused increased attention on the fact that productivity growth in the United States had been slowing dramatically for many years. particularly when compared to countries such as Japan and West Germany. Accordingly, many studies have been initiated in recent years to examine potential remedies to the problem of sagging productivity in the U.S.
Foremost among these efforts was Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century, the landmark 1987 study by the Hudson Institute (under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor) which described the general forces shaping the American economy and provided projections for the workplace and workforce of the future.
In the Commonwealth, a similar undertaking began in 1988 when the General Assembly created a subcommittee to study the labor force needs of the 1990's in response to uncertainty about the relative readiness of Virginia's future workforce. In the intervening years, related studies in Virginia and throughout the United States have proliferated. Two such studies wee concluded concurrently with the subcommittee's deliberations during 1990. The National Center on Education and the Economy published America's Choice: high skills or low wages! in June. In addition, "Workforce Virginia 2000: A Partnership For Excellence," an advisory committee commissioned by Governor Wilder, recently completed a similar study. Both proposed significant reforms to the traditional educational system with the intention of better preparing workers for the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Because the focus of these and other studies essentially paralleled that of the subcommittee, the chairman and members of the panel drew upon the extensive efforts and resources of the related study groups. As a result, the subcommittee directed much of its attention toward reviewing the abundance of information that now exists on workforce and workplace needs. This also included a review of agency-directed studies which were recommended by the subcommittee and subsequently commissioned by the General Assembly at the 1989 Session pursuant to House Joint Resolutions 357, 359, 360, and 361. A resolution which capsulates much of the information assimilated by the panel, and which encourages state agencies to keep the General Assembly apprised of the labor force supply and the workplace demand in Virginia, was recommended by the subcommittee and is included as Appendix B of this report.
The subcommittee was unable to review and respond to the final recommendations of the Governor's Advisory Committee as planned, due to the delayed release of the Advisory Committee's report. However, the panel was familiar with the general nature of that report--as well as the content of its model, issued by the National Center on Education and the Economy--and it generally corresponds to the work of the subcommittee. The report by the Governor's Advisory Committee, titled Partnerships for Excellence: the Virginia Plan for Strengthening the Commonwealth's 21st Century Workforce, is therefore included as a supplement to this document, appearing as Appendix C.
The subcommittee did not present any major recommendations to the General Assembly, but the forum it presented served to inform the public, business interests, and legislators about Virginia's future workforce needs, just as the establishment of the subcommittee three years ago by the General Assembly focused initial attention on this important subject and helped to spur other entities to continue the process of better preparing the Commonwealth's future workforce. This report summarizes the work of the subcommittee in its final year.