GBPI submits comment on the 2024-2027 Combined Strategic Workforce Development Plan

This letter constitutes Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s (GBPI) feedback on the 2024-2027 Combined Strategic Workforce Development Plan (State WIOA Plan). GBPI would like to acknowledge our State Workforce Development Board’s (SWDB) commitment to addressing workforce needs during ongoing structural changes to streamline the administration of WIOA services through the state’s technical college system. We also appreciate the continued efforts to provide high-quality service to job seekers and employers, recruit and grow a globally competitive workforce and enhance economic opportunity for all Georgians.

Our objective is to advance workforce strategies that provide all working Georgians with a bridge to economic opportunity and career mobility. Specifically, we wish to underscore key elements highlighted in the State Plan that we find important. Concurrently, we respectfully urge the CWDB to further refine policies and allocate resources to prioritize education and workforce development in specific areas. This collaborative effort aims to contribute to the realization of a more robust and equitable workforce landscape in Georgia.

Strategic Planning Elements

  • Centering equity in workforce development. We appreciate the State Plan prioritizing support for Georgians who may not be active or have a weak attachment to the labor market due to programmatic or physical barriers to employment. We recommend continuing to focus investment on priority populations, including dislocated workers, Black and Brown communities, those who have migrated from various regions across the globe, and justice-involved individuals. With the country’s highest incarceration and probation rates, enhancing economic mobility for justice-involved Georgians is one of the most critical priorities. Their barriers to accessing skills training and employment opportunities include new or ongoing criminalization tied to an inability to pay court or carceral-related debts and obligations tied to probation or parole supervision. Their barriers necessitate thoughtful strategies to build and preserve bridges to the public workforce system.
  • Establishing bold equity goals in WIOA State/Local Plans. It is encouraging to see emphasis towards pursuing added methods to disaggregate and analyze data covering the provision of WIOA resources through the lens of race, equity and inclusion. Beyond that step, we recommend utilizing that data to establish WIOA training outcome goals by race and justice-impacted status. Furthermore, to strengthen the justice-impacted lens of state workforce training policies, the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) should consider making amendments to WIOA’s definition of “Individuals with Barriers to Employment” to more explicitly outline the varied criminal legal system connection points among justice-impacted individuals. An expanded definition could include post-incarceration probation or parole, probation tied to fines and fees indigence, or supporting a household member under a form of carceral control.  Regarding the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which provides surface transportation funds for workforce development activities, Georgia’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) plan should include strategies that ensure accessibility of training programs for individuals who face barriers to employment. These programs should provide career opportunities and paths to success.
  • Securing Adequate Workforce Supports. Many Georgians engaged in workforce programs encounter socio-economic barriers hindering their ability to successfully complete skills training or educational programs. While it is encouraging to see continued emphasis on the significance of work supports in the State Plan, there remains room to improve our state’s suite of supports. First, more robust investments are necessary to boost training, wages and pay parity among frontline public sector workers across nearly every agency within the state. Second, state leaders must enact policies to improve the coordination of and access to subsidized childcare, pre-postsecondary school counseling and food and direct cash assistance programs. Third, leaders must prioritize additional investments in work, education and training supports like transportation assistance, as well as assistance purchasing books or other materials related to education and training. Lastly, Georgia’s unemployment insurance program, which the State Plan acknowledges as a provider of a significant share of referrals into our public workforce system, must improve and expand access to support the evolving needs of workers. These actions, particularly for disconnected workers and communities of color, are critical. We strongly urge the SWDB to persist in prioritizing robust worker supports for priority populations during the development of the State Plan. Recognizing the interconnectedness of these supports and other worker-centered strategies is essential for the holistic empowerment of working families.
  • Increase collaboration between industry and education/training entities that will bolster career pathways. We commend the State Plan for emphasizing its plans to expand on the state’s established Worksource Sector Partnership Grant, and on its recent investments into registered apprenticeship programs, to further yield quality career pathways. These efforts to expand collaboration between industries and training providers, will help ensure that more students and apprentices are well prepared for the workforce, and take intentional steps to help expand Georgia’s available labor force and address the evolving skills needs of in-demand industries across the state. We urge the SWDB to prioritize opportunities to maximize alignment with organized labor’s workforce training expertise, particularly within infrastructure, manufacturing and energy sectors that can be supported by federal grant opportunities from the IIJA, CHIPS and IRA.


Title II requirements

  • Strengthening adult education and digital literacy. Currently, the state supports adult education and literacy activities using various state resources including WIOA funding. These types of programs serve populations with the greatest need, such as adult learners performing below 8th-grade level, English learners, and justice-involved individuals. We are appreciative of the continued efforts to strengthen adult education systems and would also like to see more innovative strategies for populations facing barriers to accessing digital skills and affordable broadband services, especially across rural areas of the state and communities of color. Additionally, we must ensure that adult education providers across the state are well-positioned to help learners acquire the digital skills they need to succeed. Research has found that job with just one digital skill requirement had an hourly wage of over $21, which is almost 30% more than typical jobs in Georgia that don’t require digital skills. As of 2021, 90% of Georgia job postings required “definitely digital” or “likely digital skills.” We recommend the State Plan include necessary steps to ensure that providers have the tools and skills necessary to help learners acquire digital resilience and digital skills they need as part of adult education programming.

As the State Plan continues to develop, we look forward to continued engagement to advance our shared goal of supporting priority populations facing barriers to accessing education, skills training, and employment opportunities.

If you have any questions, please contact Ray Khalfani, Senior Analyst on Worker Justice and Criminal Legal System issues, at


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