About Us
E Join Our Mailing List

News > Skills Blog

Administration reorganization would eliminate critical workforce and education programs and expand ineffective work requirements

Earlier today, the Trump Administration released a proposal to restructure the federal government that includes merging many of the functions currently handled by the Departments of Labor and Education into a single Department of Education and the Workforce. The proposal would also establish a standing Council on Public Assistance tasked in part with administering a “uniform work requirements” policy across several federal programs.

This proposal is unlikely to gain traction in Congress, as legislators have rejected earlier calls by the administration to both cut funding for critical workforce and education programming and to expand ineffective work requirements. However, it reflects the continued push from the administration to eliminate vital workforce and education programming and to implement detrimental and ineffective work requirements across safety net programs.

Proposed Changes to Departments of Labor and Education

The proposal would merge the Departments of Labor and Education into the Department of Education and the Workforce, explicitly eliminating “overlapping” programming and funding sources.

The newly established Department of Education and the Workforce would be comprised of four subagencies:

The K-12 agency would move administration of the K-12 system from the Department of Education largely in the same form they are now. This agency would include the Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education and English Language Acquisition.

The American Workforce and Higher Education Administration would merge the functions currently administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, Women’s Bureau, Veterans’ Employment & Training Services and Office of Disability Employment Policy with Ed’s Office of Postsecondary Education and Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education. Continuing the administration’s focus on apprenticeship, the proposal would also task this sub-agency with administering an Apprenticeship and Impact Fund. Under the proposal, this agency would be broken in to a series of “components”:

  • Higher Education
  • Disability Employment
  • Adult Workforce Development
  • Youth Workforce Development
  • Veterans Employment Office

The Enforcement Agency would merge DOL’s current enforcement agencies including Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program, Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and Wage & Hour Division with Ed’s Office of Civil Rights. Justification for this proposal relies on the fact that these divisions represent half of DOL’s workforce. 

The Research, Evaluation and Administration Agency would merge current sub-agencies with evaluation and research components, including Ed’s Institute with Education Sciences. The proposal would move the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Department of Commerce.

While National Skills Coalition agrees that federal workforce, education, and public assistance programs could be better aligned, we do not believe that this goal is furthered through wholesale consolidation and cuts to these programs.  Congress has taken significant action to strengthen coordination of federal investments – most notably through the bipartisan passage of the the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014 – and states and other stakeholders have undertaken major updates to their workforce development strategies and policies to reflect this greater emphasis on alignment. The proposed reorganization provides limited details on funding levels for programs that would be retained and provides limited guidance on how the administration would be better positioned to coordinate programs and activities through the proposed consolidation process.

The administration has called  for elimination of programming in their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and 2019 budget requests and recent Executive Orders including those on apprenticeship and  safety net programs. Funding for workforce and education is still far below historic levels and below the level of investment necessary to meet worker need or business demand, but Congress has largely rejected the administration’s attempts to cut these programs in the last two years and has actually increased funding for many workforce and education programs, reflecting the strong bipartisan support for these investments.

Proposed Changes to Safety Net Programming

The proposal would also consolidate U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the current administrator of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training (E&T) program, into the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) administrator. The proposal would also create a new Council on Public Assistance to administer work requirement policy across a range of safety net programs, including SNAP, TANF and Medicaid.

This proposal continues the administration’s push for expanded work requirements in a number of federal policies, consistent with an Executive Order the President signed in April and proposals in both the FY 2018 and 2019 Presidential Budget Requests to reduce funding for these programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee rejected an expansion of SNAP work requirements in their bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill, marked up just last week. While the House Farm bill would expand work requirements, it seems unlikely that any final Farm Bill will reflect this approach.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes these efforts to expand work requirements, which have demonstrated little impact in increasing employment or reducing poverty but have led to reduced access to critical income supports for millions of low-income workers and their families. We also strongly oppose efforts to eliminate or consolidate federal workforce and education programs that have helped U.S. businesses and workers obtain the skills and credentials needed to succeed in today’s economy. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congressional leaders to support constructive and meaningful policies that invest in our nation’s greatest asset – our workforce.

Read a statement on the reorganization from NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen here.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP Employment and Training
With tight subcommittee allocation, House Labor-HHS bill includes cuts to workforce programs coupled with boost for CTE

Last week, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee released its draft of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill. Despite an increased budget cap for FY 2019 agreed to earlier this year as part of a two-year, bipartisan budget agreement, the FY 2019 House Labor-HHS allocation was essentially the same as the FY 2018 allocation. This level allocation means increases to some programs under the bill, including to Perkins Career and Technical Education state grants and apprenticeship funding for the administration’s new Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program but also more significant increases for programs under the National Institute of Health and Health and Human Services, are offset by cuts to other workforce and education programs.

Department of Labor

Funding for the Department of Labor overall is decreased by $88.1 million, with $216 million in cuts coming to programs under the Employment and Training Administration. 

Funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula grants would be the same as FY 2018 levels, $2.8 billion – still a 40 percent cut since 2001 and below authorized levels. Wagner-Peyser Employment Service grants would be cut by almost $81 million below FY 2018 levels to $585,788,000. The bill would also cut more than $20 million in funding from the Dislocated Worker National Reserve for FY 2019 and rescind $200 million appropriated to the program for FY 2018.

The bill would fund Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants at the same levels as FY 2018, $6 million.

The bill would provide a $5 million increase in funding for apprenticeship opportunities. Unlike FY 2016, 2017 and 2018 appropriations, the House bill would not restrict this funding to expand only registered opportunities. This change would allow DOL to use funds to support new industry recognized apprenticeships, consistent with expansion called for in the President’s June 2017 Executive Order.

Department of Education

Under the House bill, Department of Education funding would increase by $43 million over FY 2018 levels. Perkins Career and Technical Education State Grants would be funded at almost $115 million more than FY 2018 levels. This is consistent with the administration’s focus on CTE as an important component of their job creation agenda and bipartisan Congressional efforts to reauthorize the current legislation authorizing the program.

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants would be funded at FY 2018 levels and the bill would maintain the maximum Pell award at $6,095.

What’s Next

Aided by increased spending levels agreed to in the bipartisan budget agreement, both the House and Senate are advancing the appropriations process at a faster pace than last year. Members are motivated to complete the process with relatively regular order before mid-term elections in the fall and because of threats from the White House to veto omnibus funding legislation or continuing resolutions.

The full House Appropriations committee is expected to mark up the bill Tuesday, June 26th where it will likely advance on a party-line vote, with Democrats registering continued opposition to the subcommittee allocation and cuts required to offset increases to some programs above FY 2018 levels. In the Senate, the Labor-HHS allocation was slightly higher than in FY 2018 and the process continues to be slightly more bipartisan. The Senate Labor-HHS subcommittee is expected to mark up their bill (also) on June 26th. The Senate Labor-HHS bill has not yet been released. It is likely to include level funding for most workforce and education programs and be closer to the final funding levels than the more partisan House bill.

Through the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce, NSC was one of more than 35 national organizations to send a letter urging members of the subcommittee to support vital investments in workforce and education programs. NSC will continue to advocate for these investments as the House and Senate continue the appropriations process.



FY 2018 Omnibus

FY 2019 House Labor-HHS Bill

Difference FY 2017 – FY 2018 House Bill

Department of Labor


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants




WIOA Adult




WIOA Dislocated Worker




WIOA Youth




Wagner-Peyser Employment Service Grants




Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants




Apprenticeship Grants




DW National Reserve




Native American Programs




Ex-Offender Activities




Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers








Senior Community Service Employment Program




Department of Education


Career and Technical Education State Grants




Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

Senator Baldwin introduces PARTNERS Act

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
Senator Baldwin introduces PARTNERS Act

Earlier today, Senator Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Promoting Apprenticeships through Regional Training Networks for Employers’ Required Skills Act of 2018 (PARTNERS Act). The bill would support industry partnerships and their work to expand business capacity to run apprenticeship and work-based learning programs and worker success in these programs. Representatives Bonamici (D-OR) and Ferguson (R-GA) introduced a similar version in the House last fall.

PARTNERS Act would provide crucial support to local partnerships between the workforce and education systems, labor management partnerships, human services and community-based organizations and businesses. The bill would provide grants to these partnerships to help businesses set up work-based learning programs, align classroom instruction and on-the-job training and evaluate program success. Funds could also be used to ensure a diverse pipeline of workers have access to and success in these programs through pre-apprenticeship, childcare and transportation supports and first day job necessities like tools and uniforms.

Read more here.

NSC applauds Senator Baldwin’s leader introducing this important legislation and will work with both the House and Senate to advance the bill and its goals.  

Urge your Members of Congress to sign-on to the bill here!

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
National Skills Coalition offers Perkins Act recommendations to Senate HELP Committee, prior to markup

Since the House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive Perkins Act reauthorization bill in both 2016 and 2017, all eyes have been on the Senate HELP Committee to follow suit. The Perkins Act, which has not been reauthorized since 2006, is the main federal investment in both secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs. Perkins Act-programs are a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to effectively equipping individuals to fill jobs in high-demand industries in need of workers—especially those at the middle-skill level. As a result, workforce development stakeholders, including employers, educators and policymakers, have remained steadfast in calling for action on the Perkins Act since it became eligible for reauthorization in 2010.

This week, the Senate HELP Committee provided notice that they plan to consider a Perkins Act reauthorization bill on Wednesday, June 20th. In light of this recent development, National Skills Coalition submitted a set of recommendations to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-SC) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA), proposing ways to make the Act work better for students and employers in today’s economy. These recommendations urged the Committee to:

Connect CTE to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state workforce strategies

  • Under WIOA, states must submit a four-year plan to the Secretary of Labor outlining their workforce development strategy. Rather than requiring states to submit a separate plan for Perkins-Act programs, NSC recommends better aligning these complementary strategies through the use of unified or combined state plans.

Align CTE performance requirements with WIOA common indicators

  • A challenge that has persisted when it comes to streamlining federal education and workforce programs is an overall lack of common performance metrics. To address this issue, WIOA aimed to establish uniform indicators of success across core programs. NSC urges the Committee to apply these measures to postsecondary Perkins Act-funded programs.

Continue to encourage the development and implementation of sector partnerships across programs

  • WIOA was the first piece of federal legislation to require the use of industry or sector partnerships—which are formed when multiple employers in an industry choose to collaborate with other stakeholders to develop skilled worker pipelines—as a strategy for workforce development. CTE program administrators would serve as valuable sector partnership participants, given their dedication to increasing access to high-quality training for students. Therefore, NSC encourages the Committee to dedicate resources for sector partnership alignment across Perkins Act and WIOA programs.

Support the use of career pathways

  • A career pathway, as defined in WIOA, is a combination of classroom instruction, training and support services which help student persist and succeed in their programs of study. To ensure these comprehensive learning models continue to help students thrive, NSC maintains that Perkins Act programs should meet the definition of career pathways under WIOA and should be developed in partnership with local workforce boards.

Expand and support work-based learning models

  • Work-based learning—which can include apprenticeships, on-the-job training and internships—has been a main focus of federal workforce policy in recent years. Currently, CTE administrators are not required to ensure that students have access to work-based learning as part of their curriculum. NSC recommends providing funding for Perkins Act-programs to incorporate work-based learning strategies, which can better prepare students for the labor market.

NSC is grateful to the HELP Committee for their work to ensure our nation’s federal education and labor policies work for all students—and looks forward to continuing to provide input throughout the Perkins Act reauthorization process.

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Career and Technical Education

Southern states must build a skilled workforce for a stronger economy

  ·   By Melissa Johnson,
Southern states must build a skilled workforce for a stronger economy

Southern states face a skills gap and must adapt to a new U.S. economy in which most jobs require training beyond high school, according to a new report from the National Skills Coalition and the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis, Building a Skilled Workforce for a Stronger Southern Economy.

Most of the jobs in the South are middle-skill jobs, requiring education or training beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. However, across the South, there are not enough workers trained to fill middle-skill jobs.

This middle-skill gap, however, isn’t insurmountable. Southern states could step up to the challenge of educating more of the region’s adults to close this gap. Focusing on grade school students alone won’t be enough to close the skills gap now. If each and every one of the South’s graduating high school students were to stay in the region and train for open jobs that require postsecondary education, there would still be unfilled positions.

Moreover, if southern states are going to close their skill gaps, they must provide more opportunities for all adults – including people of color – to access high-quality  education and training. More than four in ten Southerners are people of color. A skilled and thriving southern economy must be an inclusive economy.

To help states realize economic improvement, this report includes a roadmap of critical steps states may take to establish policies that could help them close their skills gaps. State policymakers could:

  • Use workforce development strategies, such as sector partnerships and work-based learning, as economic development tools capable of meeting industry needs.
  • Invest in communities to implement high-quality workforce development strategies at the local level.
  • Establish job-driven financial aid programs that are available to a wide range of students.
  • Form middle-skill training pathways and include comprehensive supportive services that enable completion.
  • Create state data systems that provide accountability on how training programs are helping residents with diverse needs get skilled jobs.

State policymakers could consider also easing their path to implementation of these steps by taking the following actions, which could help unite a broad set of stakeholders around a common plan for skills development:

  • Set a bold goal for increasing the number of adults trained for skilled jobs.
  • Create a cross-agency “Skills Cabinet,” and task agency leaders with working together to develop and implement a strategy for meeting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal for adults.

In addition to the roadmap, this report also includes examples of current policy from southern states, proving that these policy changes may be implemented in the region’s unique context. Residents, businesses, and state economies are counting on their leaders to examine these policies and take the appropriate steps that will help them thrive now and in the future. In conjunction with the launch of this southern-focused report, National Skills Coalition is launching its Southern Skills Policy Initiative. Through this Initiative, National Skills Coalition will work with teams in five states –Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – to advance policies that can build a skilled workforce.

Over the next year, National Skills Coalition will work intensively with partners in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to put forward state policies that help workers and businesses in those states to get the skills they need to compete:

In Georgia, we will promote policies that prepare more residents for skilled jobs by making it easier for people with low incomes to afford postsecondary training. Partner organizations include Center for Working Families, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation Atlanta Civic Site, Atlanta Career Rise, and Metro Atlanta Chamber.

In North Carolina, we will conduct research and engage key stakeholders to build more equitable pathways and work-based learning opportunities for skilled careers for students and workers of color and other underserved populations. Initial partner organizations include North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Community College System, and Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board.

In Tennessee,we will identify policies that address the non-academic and advising needs of working students so they can succeed in postsecondary training, as well as opportunities to promote apprenticeship, work-based learning, and postsecondary training that responds to industry needs. . Partner organizations include Complete Tennessee and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

National Skills Coalition will also work with partners in Mississippi and Texas in 2018 to support in-state discussions on apprenticeship and work-based learning.

In Mississippi, we will discuss policies that help more parents build their skills while supporting their families by providing child care assistance to workers in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Partner organizations include Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative and Moore Community House Women in Construction Program.

In Texas, we will discuss policies that expand apprenticeship and work-based learning opportunities for both adults and young people. Initial partner organizations include Educate Texas, Austin Community College, and the United Ways of Texas.

Through the duration of the Southern Skills Policy Initiative, NSC will create opportunities for partners from each state to share lessons learned with each other and other community leaders in the region.


Posted In: Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas