MI Releases New Data Tool for Students and Workers

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
MI Releases New Data Tool for Students and Workers

Michigan’s Pathfinder is an online career planning tool intended to help students make informed choices about their education and career options.  The state tool is similar to the website envisioned by the College Transparency Act supported by WDQC.

It’s the result of several agencies from across state government working together to provide information for students and the people who advise them, including parents, teachers and counselors. But it’s also an effective tool for adults looking at new career options.

The tool allows users to search for education and career information by career name, school, or program type. Data on careers includes details about what a student can expect to do in that career and the relevant training required, as well as information about wages and occupational growth over the next decade. Data on schools includes graduation rates, the cost of tuition and fees, and information about the graduate debt. Data on programs includes the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates one and five years after graduation.

In order to ensure that students can create pathways to their chosen careers, users have the option to see information about careers, schools, and programs all on one page.  

Pathfinder is populated with information from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which was created under the Obama administration to highlight key measures about college costs and value to help students make smarter postsecondary decisions. Pathfinder is also populated with Michigan wage record and educational performance data, as well as the state’s labor market information.

The website also includes sections directing students to information about apprenticeships, on-the-job training, self-employment and financial aid.

The Talent Investment Agency, which was the lead on the project, plans to continue to enhance the tool and update the data at least annually. You can learn more about Michigan’s data infrastructure by visiting Michigan’s state page.

WDQC applauds Michigan for making more information about education and career options available to students and their parents. Scorecards are one of the 13 elements featured in our State Blueprint for creating strong state data systems, that provide useable information to relevant stakeholders.

Posted In: Michigan, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
New Maryland and Michigan fact sheets: Immigrants can help meet demand for middle-skill workers

Two new fact sheets from National Skills Coalition highlight the important role that immigrant workers play in filling middle-skill jobs in Michigan and Maryland.

While immigration settlement patterns differ substantially between the two states, in both cases, immigrant workers will be vital to helping the states meet the demand for middle skill workers and respond to local industries’ talent needs.

To meet these demands, states will need to ensure that their talent-development pipelines are inclusive of the many immigrants who are poised to benefit from investments in their skills: 41 percent of adult immigrants in Michigan and 39 percent in Maryland have not gone beyond high school in their education.

Maryland: A Quickly Growing Immigrant Population Meets an Ambitious Postsecondary Goal

Maryland has a steadily growing immigrant population.  The state has seen its foreign-born population more than double from 6.6 percent in 1990 to 15.2 percent today.

Immigrants in Maryland are much more likely to be of working age:  80 percent are between the ages of 18-64, compared to just 60 percent of native-born residents. Maryland immigrants also have a substantially higher labor force participation rate: 72.7 percent of adult immigrants in Maryland are in the labor force, compared to 65.3 percent of native-born adults

The state has recently established an ambitious goal for postsecondary attainment: By 2025, Maryland aims to increase the percentage of state residents between twenty-five and sixty-four years old with a postsecondary degree to 55 percent. Meeting this goal will require investments in skill-building for all Marylanders, including those born abroad.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Maryland’s Untapped Assets


Michigan: A Large Immigrant Population is Part of the Middle-Skill Solution  

Michigan is home to approximately 652,000 immigrants, who comprise almost 7 percent of state residents.  As a result, they make up a vital role in Michigan’s labor market. This role will continue growing as the immigrant population increases; already, the share of immigrants in the state’s population has increased by 74 percent from 3.8 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent today.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) responded to the growing importance of the state’s immigrant workforce by establishing the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) by executive order in 2014. A primary role of MONA is to build and strengthen relationships between immigrant workers and the state’s public workforce system.

The demand for middle-skill workers is anticipated to remain strong in Michigan, with 50 percent of new job openings expected to be at the middle skill-level. In order for Michigan to capitalize on this demand and draw on the full talents and abilities of their residents, the state will need to invest in the skills of native-born and immigrant workers alike.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Michigan’s Untapped Assets

Posted In: Immigration, Michigan, Maryland

Michigan Breaks New Ground in Workforce Services for New Americans

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
Michigan Breaks New Ground in Workforce Services for New Americans

National Skills Coalition Director of Upskilling Policy Amanda Bergson-Shilcock traveled to Michigan in November for two briefings with state and local workforce staff. The briefings focused on effective strategies for serving jobseekers who are immigrants and/or English language learners.

The trip was sparked by an invitation from two state officials:  Karen Phillippi, Deputy Director of the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA), and Stephanie Beckhorn, Senior Deputy Director for Workforce Development at the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA).

Michigan is one of just a half-dozen states nationwide to have a state-level initiative focused on the integration of immigrant residents. Governor Rick Snyder (R) established MONA in 2014 via executive order. The office is led by Director Bing Goei.  In the nearly four years since MONA’s launch, the agency has implemented several skills-related initiatives, several of which are detailed below.

Lloyd Conway, Program Specialist at TIA, moderated the November briefings. A major theme of Amanda’s remarks was that program and policy interventions that address barriers faced by immigrants can also be valuable in serving other jobseekers, such as veterans or those who are returning from incarceration. Michigan has sought to serve these and other populations through a variety of efforts focused on so-called “structural unemployment.”

Amanda provided background context on the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and requirements for serving English language learners under the legislation. She also shared skills policy examples from other states and localities, including Seattle’s use of Community Development Block Grant funds to support its Ready to Work program, and several states’ use of SNAP Employment & Training resources to support skill-building. Finally, attendees learned about NSC’s state policy resources on Skills Equity issues, including 50-state scans and policy toolkits.

Attendees at the briefings included staff from Michigan’s newly launched Refugee/Immigrant Navigator program, described below.

Launching Refugee/Immigrant Navigators at Local Workforce Centers

In Summer 2017, MONA used WIOA Title I Governor’s Reserve funds (sometimes called discretionary funds), paired with some state funding, to establish new Refugee/Immigrant Navigator positions in collaboration with four local workforce boards and community partners. The Navigators are modeled on an earlier state program that provided similar services to jobseekers with disabilities.

The four pilot locations include Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Kent counties. The locations were selected due to their relatively high concentration of refugee and immigrant Michiganders.

Navigators function as a kind of “air traffic control” for jobseekers, helping identify which publicly funded programs they qualify for and how to access them. Some participants are enrolled in WIOA Title I workforce services, while others pursue Title II adult education services or still other employment-related resources.

Michigan is the second state to use WIOA discretionary funds to support Navigators for this population, following California.

Expanding Adult ESOL Models

MONA funded five innovative adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) pilot programs during 2017. Each program received a one-year grant of approximately $50,000. Funding came from the Governor’s office. The intent of the pilots was to provide in-demand English learning services that could reach under-served populations and could not easily be funded using existing state or federal ESOL funding.

Among the models funded were a contextualized ESOL program for the construction industry that also allows participants to earn an OSHA safety certification and forklift license.

Smoothing Pathways to Occupational Licensure

MONA is housed within the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees licensing for dozens of professions and other occupations in the state. Michigan has been recognized as a national leader in helping immigrants with foreign credentials learn how they can pursue licensure in the United States.

Among MONA’s achievements are publishing a series of licensing guides to help applicants navigate the path to licensure. An initial 11 guides were developed in collaboration with the nonprofit Upwardly Global. To date, the state has now published more than 40 guides for occupations ranging from cosmetologist to accountant to mortuary science to respiratory therapist.

Assisting Immigrant Professionals to Return to their Fields

MONA’s Michigan International Talent Solutions (MITS) program provides direct assistance to immigrant jobseekers who have credentials from abroad. In addition to career coaching and job-placement assistance, MITS provides eligible candidates with an opportunity to improve their English language skills using an online tool from Education First.

As appropriate, MITS participants can also receive up to $6,000 in “re-skilling” assistance that allows them to pursue short-term training that will prepare them to use their international experience in a US context. Re-skilling vouchers can be used at US institutions such as community colleges or private training providers. Examples include training in QuickBooks software for bookkeepers or accountants, training in AutoCAD for architectural professionals, and numerous other opportunities. 

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Michigan

Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

  ·   By Sapna Mehta
Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

Governors across the nation are proposing new measures to increase middle-skill training.  Among the most common proposals are state support for apprenticeships and new investments in community college training, including free tuition. 

California Governor Jerry Brown proposed an additional $150 million for grants to support community colleges to develop and implement “guided pathways programs, an integrated, institution-wide approach” to improve student success.  The Governor also proposed utilizing $923,000 in federal funds to expand existing apprenticeship programs and create new programs in non-traditional and emerging industries.

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan proposed $41 million for the Going Pro Program, a job training program that focuses on in-demand occupations in advanced manufacturing, construction, information technology and healthcare. The Governor also spoke of the need to work with legislators and the private sector to increase the number of registered apprenticeships in the state.

Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada proposed a $21 million investment in career and technical education programs at the state’s four community colleges. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf requested $12 million in new funding to establish the Manufacturing PA initiative – a partnership between the Department of Community and Economic Development, research universities, community colleges, and other training providers to foster growth and innovation in manufacturing.  Of the $12 million, $5 million is for a manufacturing training-to-career grant program, which would facilitate partnerships between manufacturers and community colleges and technical providers, to link job training to career pathways through programs such as apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and paid internships. The Governor also proposed $4 million to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including grants for employers of up to $2,000 for each registered apprentice.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proposed a $5 million increase in state funds and a new $5 million program for the Department of Workforce Development to make grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System for in-demand certification programs for high school students. The Governor also proposed $5 million for a registered apprenticeship program.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan proposed the Student Debt Relief Act, which would allow “Marylanders to deduct one hundred percent of the interest paid on their student loans from their state income tax return.” Additionally, as part of the Governor’s $5 million 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative, he proposed opening six new P-TECH high schools, and funding to support students currently enrolled in existing schools.  P-TECH schools partner with employers and colleges to provide secondary to postsecondary pathways in STEM.   The Jobs Initiative also includes a $3 million investment in cyber job training grants, modeled after Maryland’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) workforce training program.  The Governor also announced a $1 million investment in Maryland Partnership for Workforce Quality, to encourage employers to invest in employee training.   

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed the $4 million Learn to Earn program, which would offer scholarships for training and certificates in certain fields, as well as transportation and child care subsidies to make it easier for people to attend the trainings.

Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island proposed $2 million for the Community College of Rhode Island Westerly Job Skills Training Center, which prepare students for jobs in advanced manufacturing in partnership with employers, and $2 million for the state’s TechHire initiative for training in technology related fields.  The Governor also proposed free tuition for two years at the state’s public colleges: University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.  Additionally, she proposed expanding P-TECH high schools.  

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb proposed investing $2 million to create regional Jobs Ready Grants to help incumbent workers earn in-demand credentials or certificates.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed a budget enhancement of $1 million for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program, which supports 124 different training programs at Virginia’s Community colleges.  The Governor also proposed requiring community colleges to award college credit for apprenticeships and other related programs, expanding access to in-demand credentials for non-traditional students. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Excelsior Scholarship Program, a “last-dollar scholarship” to provide free tuition at the state’s public two- and four-year colleges to residents earning up to $125,000 annually.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed tuition-free community college education for all adults without a post-secondary degree.  Currently, adults without post-secondary degrees can attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology tuition-free through Tennessee Reconnect, and only recent high school graduates can apply for “last-dollar scholarships” to attend the state’s community colleges through Tennessee Promise. Funding for the new adult scholarships would come from the state’s lottery proceeds.

Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed piloting the Accelerated Completion of Technical Studies program, which would provide financial support to low-income students pursuing associate degrees at community colleges for in-demand jobs.  This is modeled after a similar successful program at the City University of New York.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas proposed free tuition at two-year colleges and technical schools for high school students who enroll in high-demand fields, such as computer science or welding.  The grants, known as Arkansas Future Grants, would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  They would be paid for by repurposing $8.2 million in general revenue funds from other workforce and higher education grants.

Posted In: Arkansas, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin

National Skills Coalition hosts first Skills in the States Forum

  ·   By Silvia Vallejo
National Skills Coalition hosts first Skills in the States Forum

On October 17-18, nearly 100 workforce advocates from 20 states and D.C. gathered in Detroit, Michigan to take part in NSC’s first Skills in the States Forum. The purpose of the event was for participants to engage with peers and share ideas on how to move skills policies forward in their states.  

The two-day event kicked off with a plenary discussion on state policies for skills equity, where speakers shared ideas on how to expand access to skill building for underserved populations in their states. The discussion was led by NSC Senior State Policy Analyst, Brooke DeRenzis; Emily Price of So Others Might Eat in D.C.; Sarah Labadie of Women Employed, Illinois; and Dr. Corey Wiggins of the Hope Policy Institute in Mississippi. Another highlight from the event was a discussion on Detroit’s economic recovery and how government agencies, nonprofits, and businesses are collaborating to help workers strive in the City’s growing job market. The plenary, moderated by Chauncy Lennon of JPMorgan Chase, featured Wanda Stokes, Director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency; Jason D. Lee, CEO of Focus:HOPE; and Jeff Donofrio, Detroit’s Director of Workforce Development and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board.

Participants also had a chance to dive into the topic of investments in skills policies, with a plenary where Jessica Fraser of the Indiana Institute for Working Families; Jerry Rubin from Jewish Vocational Services Boston; and Debra Jones of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office shared budget challenges in their states and best practices for working with partners to address them.

At the forum, NSC launched a series of policy toolkits meant to help states develop and enact “skills equity” policies that expand equitable access to middle-skill training, credentials, and careers - particularly for those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity. The toolkits, which include model legislation, are designed to help states bridge their skills gap, help people train for in-demand occupations, and help businesses find the skilled workers they need to succeed. The toolkits cover policies on  job-driven financial aidSNAP E&Tstackable credentialsalignment, and integrated education and training.

The toolkits fueled a robust discussion on the best ways to influence state policies during a set of concurrent sessions. Workforce Data Quality Campaign also lead a conversation on workforce data policy. During these sessions, participants had the opportunity to discuss a state skills policy issue and possible strategies for advancing it.

In addition to the plenaries and discussions, participants broke out into smaller groups to engage with peers from other states on advocacy tactics and how to expand opportunities for people to enhance their skills, credentials, and careers, and ultimately, their families’ financial well-being.

A special thanks to our steering committee who helped organize the forum. The five-member committee included: Andrew Bradley from Indiana Institute for Working Families; Julie Brown from Dan River Region Collaborative in Virginia ; Melissa Johnson, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute; Alice Pritchard, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; and Carrie Thomas, Chicago Jobs Council. In addition to the steering committee, the forum was made possible with help from our funders W.K. Kellogg FoundationJPMorgan Chase, and the Joyce Foundation.

To view materials from the forum, please visit the events section of our website here

Posted In: Skills Equity, Michigan