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4 states receive resources to better align education and training programs; improve employment outcomes

4 states receive resources to better align education and training programs; improve employment outcomes

CA, MS, OH, and RI will use new tools to improve state workforce and education policies

WASHINGTON, DC – Governors’ and state legislators’ efforts to drive state economic growth have often been hindered by the lack of actionable data to better align their states’ workforce and higher education programs with industry and worker needs.  Today, to address that challenge, National Skills Coalition announced that four states will participate in its State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island will receive technical assistance and $180,000 each to implement new data tools. These tools will help elected state officials create policies that close skill gaps and create more equitable, efficient, and aligned state workforce development and education systems.

NSC’s team of nationally recognized experts will work with top officials in each state to use system-wide information about workforce education and training programs to better align programs with each other, with employer skill needs, and with the learning and support needs of individual workers.

“The competitiveness of each state’s workforce is critical to the economic growth of our nation. But without sufficient, accurate, and measurable information, it’s hard for states to bring their human capital policies to the next level,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of NSC. “SWEAP will create better cross-program information that allows states to see how these programs can work together, and how individuals can advance through them over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment.”

The SWEAP project is led by National Skills Coalition and funded by JPMorgan Chase, Ford Foundation, and USA Funds.

“Employers, educators, policymakers, training organizations, and others have recognized the critical importance of tackling the skills gap,” remarked Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “With the help of SWEAP, these four states will help ensure that workers get the skills they need to get ahead and that businesses gain access to the talent they need to grow.”

“By promoting effective workforce development programs and services, SWEAP will help more individuals attain credentials and competencies that lead to rewarding careers aligned with the demands of the local labor market,” said Derek Redelman, USA Funds senior program director. “USA Funds supports this initiative as part of a broader strategy to leverage data to help policymakers, educators, students and parents all make better choices about the path through education to careers.”

SWEAP comes at an important time, as each state is currently implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a newly updated law that governs federal workforce development and adult education policies. WIOA encourages greater alignment across a range of human capital policies including workforce development, adult basic education, career and technical education, and others. SWEAP will help states more effectively align these systems to the benefit of workers and industries.

SWEAP is led by NSC’s state policy director, Bryan Wilson. Wilson previously directed the creation and operation of Washington State’s performance measurement system for workforce and career and technical education programs, and co-led the national Integrated Performance Information project, which produced the model for WIOA’s performance measures. Wilson’s technical assistance team includes Christopher T. King, Ph.D., and Heath J. Prince, Ph.D. of the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas at Austin. King and Prince each have decades of experience assisting state and federal agencies with workforce development policies and programs.