By BRIAN WITTEANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) â¿¿ Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday highlighted some initiatives he hopes will stimulate job growth by increasing training for positions in the highest demand and clearing some hurdles to employment for military families. The Democrat has put $2.5 million in his budget proposal to create a competitive grant process to help get people the skills for jobs that are in high demand. The initiative, called the Employment Advancement Now Initiative, would encourage regional training collaborations among businesses, nonprofits, colleges and local governments. It would focus on industries such as traditional and advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and health care. "This is really an effort that is driven by employers who say they have jobs that are open, they need more employees with the skills to fill them and so this EARN bill will help more moms and dads get the skills they need to enter those better jobs," O'Malley said at a Senate hearing. The governor also is backing a measure to speed up the professional licensing process for military families who move to Maryland from other states. O'Malley said more than 20 states already expedite the licensing process for veterans to move. The unemployment rate is 8.8 percent for veterans, and for post-9/11 veterans it is 9.7 percent, O'Malley said. The measure would credit veterans for their military training and educational experience when they apply for occupational and professional licenses in the state. Veterans also would be able to get academic credit at state four-year colleges and community colleges for relevant military training and education. "This will lower the cost of earning a degree, will allow veterans to get their degrees quicker, and the more degrees our people have the better that is for our state and our economy," O'Malley said. Earlier in the day, the governor joined members of the Maryland Federal Facilities Advisory Board to release a plan with 25 actions Maryland could take to take encourage innovation and job creation and federal facilities. They include aligning state resources with federal priorities and promoting cybersecurity business.
Maryland is home to more than 70 federal agencies and major military installations, according to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. More than 300,000 federal employees and service members live in Maryland and contribute $27.3 billion to the state's economy, according to the department. Maryland also receives more federal research funding per capita than any other state in the country, DBED said.