June 21, 2022 –
Today I attended Governor Phil Scott’s press conference at Vermont Precision Tools in Swanton VT where he highlighted S.11 (Act 183), a substantial workforce development bill. A transcript of the Governor’s statements follows below. Among many other provisions, this bill contains language from H.332, a bipartisan bill that I co-sponsored to enable loan forgiveness to Physician Assistants if they commit to working in Vermont. With the current healthcare workforce shortage coupled with an aging population (Vermont is one of the oldest states in the nation), the lack of healthcare providers has reached crisis proportions, leaving Vermonters with long wait times across all specialties and regions of the state. As doctors (MDs and DOs) age out of their practices, there are fewer Vermonters being accepted to medical schools to replace them, so the need for NPs and PAs is expanding. The original intent of the language in Act 183 was to include only Nurse Practitioners (NPs) because Vermont does not have a school for Physician Assistant Studies, leaving behind those students who don’t follow a traditional nursing path to becoming a higher level healthcare provider. My co-sponsor and I saw a need to include PAs in this loan forgiveness/scholarship model as a way to bring diversity and numbers to Vermont’s healthcare system by incentivizing those students who have studied out of state to return home to Vermont or to move to Vermont for the first time. We successfully advocated for this language and are pleased that it was included in S.11’s final iteration.
The Governor also called out the passage of H.517, an expansion of the National Guard Tuition Benefits Program that I worked closely on with my Senate and House colleagues; this bill provides a necessary recruitment incentive for our Guard to attract members from across the country, who will be contributing to Vermont employers and community organizations for the length of their careers.
Programs like these will energize and stimulate workforce growth, as students take advantage of a multitude of educational opportunities and put them to use in Vermont’s economy made possible by bills like S.11 and H.517.
It is an honor to represent your interests in the Legislature and to work together with my colleagues to affect change that will benefit all Vermonters.
TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT OUTLINES NEW WORKFORCE INITIATIVES TO FILL AVAILABLE JOBS AND CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITY VERMONTERS
Swanton, Vt. – At his weekly media briefing, Governor Phil Scott highlighted initiatives and investments passed this year to help train, retain and recruit more workers to address Vermont’s workforce shortage.
The Governor was joined by state leaders from the Department of Labor, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Agency of Human Services and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to discuss newly passed legislation that will help grow and strengthen the workforce, including regional workforce expansion program, loan forgiveness and incentives to retain nurses, and investments in higher education and adult training programs.
Vermont Precision Tools hosted the event and the company’s president, Monica Greene, also shared details on the company’s efforts to train, retain and recruit employees.
More details can be found in the below transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks or by clicking here to view the press conference.
Governor Scott: Thank you all for being here and thanks to Vermont Precision Tools for hosting us.
We’re here today to talk about a familiar theme – one that I’ve focused on since my very first day in office, and that’s workforce.
At the start of each legislative session, I outline my Administration’s priorities for the year. I’m sure most of you have heard me talk about our strategic priorities before: growing the economy; making Vermont more affordable; and protecting the most vulnerable.
To accomplish each of these goals, we keep coming back to our Achilles’ heel: The lack of workers in our workforce.
Now, as you might remember, during my first term as governor I spoke a lot about three numbers: 6-3-1. Each of them representing concerning trends we were facing – and this was long before the pandemic. On average, we were seeing six fewer workers in our workforce, three fewer kids in our K-12 schools, and one child born to addiction, every single day.
We were beginning to make progress, but then along came a once-in-a-century pandemic that had ripple effects far beyond public health.
If you talk to any employer – and you’ll hear from a great one here at Vermont Precision Tools – finding people to fill the good jobs they have available is a challenge.
That’s why, with record state surpluses and all the federal funding, I thought it was so important to invest in areas I knew would make a difference.
All the proposals we put forward were tied together to address this issue: To have more workers, we need more housing. To have more housing, we need water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. To support workers and give them reasons to come here, we need broadband, childcare, and safe, healthy and thriving communities. And to keep costs down and protect the environment, we need to invest in things like weatherization.
But we also need workforce training and development programs, which is why we’re here today.
My team worked closely with the Legislature, in particular the economic development and health care committees, to pass S.11, now Act 183, which includes major investments to expand and strengthen our workforce. There were also important workforce investments in the budget for higher education and VSAC to make getting the needed skills more affordable. And I want to mention H.518, now Act 172, which gives more financial assistance for Guard members to continue their education.
It was great to see support for so many initiatives that will help move the needle on our workforce shortage – though we all know we need to do more.
I want to acknowledge all the members of the House and Senate here today, and in particular, the Chair of House Economic Development Mike Marcotte for your close collaboration and commitment to getting these initiatives passed.
Members of my team will speak more about some of the specifics in a moment, but you’ll hear about ways employers and potential employees can better connect; support for refugees entering the workforce; and incentives to recruit workers to Vermont. And while we have shortages in every sector, we know healthcare is a big one, so S.11 included tools specifically for healthcare workers and nurses. We’ll also hear from Scott Giles of VSAC which received funding to help more students access post-secondary education and training, and a forgivable loan program to keep more of them here after they graduate.
This is just a handful if initiatives that were passed this session, and we’ll highlight more as these programs get up and running.
But no matter what government does, this work is not possible without strong leadership and partnership from the private sector. Employers finding new ways to attract, train and retain workers is essential to our success.
Vermont Precision Tools is not just our host today but a great example of an employer who is running their own training program. It’s now my pleasure to turn the podium over to Monica Greene, president of Vermont Precision Tools, to talk more about the work the company does, as well as some of the challenges they face because of our workforce shortage.