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New Maryland policy will encourage better coordination between WIOA Title I and Title II

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New Maryland policy will encourage better coordination between WIOA Title I and Title II

Policy guidance recently issued by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) is spurring local adult education and workforce providers to spell out how they are working together to assess program participants. The most recent guidance was issued in April 2017. It is aimed at local workforce development areas and adult education providers funded by Maryland under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The policy will help to address a problem that is widespread nationally: Adult education and workforce program participants are often subjected to repeated, sometimes redundant tests to meet program reporting requirements. Better coordination across WIOA Title I workforce and Title II adult education programs can help identify instances where a single assessment result can be used to satisfy more than one reporting requirement, thus reducing the time and expense required to administer multiple tests to a single participant.

NSC recently sat down for a conversation with Erin Roth, Director of Policy in the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning at Maryland’s DLLR (pictured above). Edited excerpts of that conversation are below.

Q. Maryland is one of a minority of states in which oversight of WIOA Title II adult education services is housed within the same agency that oversees workforce development. Did having the state stakeholders under one umbrella help you to formulate this policy?

I’m glad you mentioned that. We worked really hard to make sure that all of the relevant State and local stakeholders were engaged in the process of developing this policy. Everybody brings different expertise and perspectives to the table, and we didn’t want to overlook any considerations as we were drafting the policy. If you want people to not just comply with a policy but really embrace the spirit of it, you have to incorporate their input from the beginning.

Q. Who were those stakeholders? Can you help us get a sense of the different types of organizations that were at the table?

We pulled together a diverse group of experts, including representatives from community colleges and local workforce areas, to work alongside State leadership from labor, education and human services. To ensure we had a good balance of perspectives, it was important to include a mix of local staff who oversee operations in addition to the individuals who administer assessments as a part of their everyday job duties.

Q. Maryland, like every state, has to report on participants’ Educational Functioning Level (EFL) gains for WIOA Title II participants, and on Measurable Skill Gains for both WIOA Title I and Title II participants. Did you develop this policy in response to those federal requirements?

We obviously want to comply with federal requirements, but actually, we started this alignment work back in 2015, realizing it was the right thing to do for our customers. Maryland is really leveraging WIOA by using it as an opportunity to evaluate existing processes and improve the customer experience within the workforce system.

Measuring EFLs isn’t a new concept for our system, but aligning the activities in this way is mostly new, and it has required hard work and honest conversations between our local partners. I do believe that strengthened coordination between our Title I workforce and Title II adult education providers will contribute to EFL gains and positive outcomes with Measurable Skill Gains performance reporting.

But more importantly, I hope that our alignment efforts will increase the likelihood that customers will succeed. We know that a lot of Marylanders could benefit from adult education services to help them access job training and make progress along career pathways. We want to make sure these individuals stay engaged, and we think that limiting the number of standardized tests they’re required to take -- through increasing coordination and trust between partners -- will help.

Q. Let’s talk about that. One of the big stumbling blocks for joint assessment is that different parts of the workforce and adult education systems may not trust each other’s assessment processes – and thus, may administer their own tests “just to be sure.”

Any time you have people who don’t work directly with each other, it’s possible for there to be misunderstandings or mistrust about how processes work. We wanted to address that by providing plenty of joint training opportunities for staff and by laying out some clear guidelines for what good assessment standards should include. We asked our local areas to articulate how they’re approaching assessments in their WIOA Local Plans. That way people aren’t guessing about how their colleagues in other parts of the system are carrying out the assessment functions.

Q. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. How exactly does your policy move the system toward better coordination of assessments?

We used the Local WIOA Plan process as the driving mechanism. Under our policy, local areas were required to spell out these five items, at a minimum, in their Local Plans:

  • Outline the agreed-upon steps that will be taken to align basic education skills and English language assessments within the local area, including, but not limited to, any Memoranda of Understanding entered into by the workforce development and adult learning partners;
  • Identify how assessment scores will be shared among WIOA Title I areas and Title II providers (Consideration must be given to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA));
  • Identify who will conduct which of the approved assessments and when such assessments will be conducted, consistent with the Department’s policy;
  • Specify how the local area will coordinate testing between workforce development and adult education providers; and
  • Outline how the local area will ensure that test administrators will be trained in accordance with this policy and applicable testing guidelines set forth by the applicable test publisher.

To answer these questions, local workforce and adult education providers needed to have conversations on how best to work together to align and serve mutual customers.

Q. So just to clarify, you required coordination, but you didn’t tell local areas how to coordinate?

That’s correct. We thought it was more appropriate for local areas to determine the most efficient approach given their particular considerations and context.

Q. When does the policy take effect?

We’re requiring full implementation to be effective July 1, 2017.

Q. The adult education landscape looks quite different across the various states, but federal WIOA requirements are the same across the country. Are there any lessons you learned in developing this policy in Maryland that might be applicable for other advocates who are tackling this issue?

Resist the temptation to oversimplify. Aligning assessments is important and doable, but it is more complex than it may seem. At first, it was tempting for us to create a blanket requirement for the whole state where every provider would just use the same assessment. Sure, that would have made sharing scores easier, but it would have been a miss in bigger ways and likely would have resulted in a disservice to our customers.

By including local experts in the State’s planning process from the beginning, we were able to better understand the complexities and nuances at play. It also helped us to recognize that we needed to consider the budget and planning implications this policy shift would require. And that meant building in plenty of time for local conversations and planning to occur before moving into full implementation mode. 

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Maryland
President Trump Executive Order Calls for Apprenticeship Expansion, directs federal agencies to propose elimination of “ineffective” workforce training programs

Earlier today, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” and announced a new initiative to expand apprenticeship in the U.S. The proposal would provide industry associations, unions, and other stakeholders the flexibility to develop standards for "industry-recognized apprenticeships" (that would complement the existing registered apprenticeship system).

The EO directs the Secretary of Labor, in cooperation with the Secretaries of Commerce and Education, to consider proposing new regulations to support the expansion of industry-recognized apprenticeships through the use of third-party certifying entities. Among other things, the regulations must reflect an assessment of whether to:

  • determine how qualified third parties may provide recognition to industry-recognized apprenticeship programs
  • establish guidelines or requirements that qualified third parties should or must follow to ensure that apprenticeship programs they recognize meet quality standards
  • whether to retain the current Registered Apprenticeship system for current employers; and
  • Establishing review process for industry-certified apprenticeships, including processes for terminating a program.

The Secretary is required to consider and evaluate public comments prior to issuing the new regulations, which will allow for stakeholders to provide input into any final rule.

The EO also establishes a new Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which would be chaired by the Secretary of Labor and co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Commerce, and would also include representatives from industry, labor, and educational institutions. The task force would be responsible for developing a report to the president detailing:

  • Federal initiatives that can expand apprenticeship;
  • Legislative and administrative reforms necessary to support expansion; and
  • Strategies to create and expand industry-recognized apprenticeships; and
  • Strategies to support private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

The EO requires the Secretary to use available funding, including funds provided to the Department of Labor under the H-1B visa program, to promote apprenticeship, with a particular focus on expanding participation in apprenticeship for students in accredited secondary and postsecondary institutions, expanding apprenticeship in sectors without sufficient apprenticeship opportunities, and increasing youth participation in apprenticeship. The EO further calls on federal agencies to take steps to promote apprenticeships with targeted populations, including individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated, disconnected youth, and veterans.

The Trump Administration’s focus on apprenticeship comes on the heels of efforts under President Obama to expand registered apprenticeship programs, including more than $250 million in grants and contracts to states, national intermediaries, and other stakeholders. The EO does not specifically address how the new initiative will be connected to those ongoing investments.

Overall, the president’s proposals with respect to apprenticeship are consistent with National Skills Coalition’s longstanding support for industry-driven partnerships that support work-based learning and other strategies to connect businesses and workers. While there is clearly much still to be decided prior to implementation – including how to ensure that new industry-certified programs meet quality standards and ensuring that workers continue to benefit from wage increases and other protections associated with traditional registered apprenticeship programs – the initiatives outlined in the EO appear to be a good first step toward our goal of getting to five million apprentices. National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with the administration and other stakeholders to make sure that this effort leads to the expansion of high quality programs that meet the needs of workers and employer partners.

Evaluating Federal Workforce and Education Programs

While the apprenticeship components of the EO were generally good, there were some troubling provisions relating to other federal workforce programs. The order directs all Federal agencies with jurisdiction over at least one job training program to evaluate the effectiveness of those programs, and proposes elimination of programs deemed to be “ineffective, redundant, or unnecessary.” In light of the president’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget which called for substantial cuts to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), and other workforce, education, and human services programs, the direction to propose further cuts or eliminations is a step in the wrong direction. These important federal programs fund the country's workforce and CTE system and although they have strong bipartisan support in Congress, they are already underfunded after more than a decade of cuts. This trend has frustrated small and medium-sized businesses who struggle to find skilled workers.

Under WIOA, registered apprenticeship programs are automatically eligible to access training funds provided through a state's eligible training provider list, registered apprenticeship representatives are required to participate in strategic and operational activities of the local and state workforce development boards, and reporting requirements are relaxed for these programs compared to the requirements for other training providers. These changes are intended to better align the workforce system with the apprenticeship system. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the workforce system, however, would impact state and local efforts to build these connections, and would likely undermine the administration’s efforts to increase apprenticeship utilization.

National Skills Coalition opposes any efforts to cut needed workforce and education investments, and we will continue to work with our national, state and local partners to resist further cuts to these vital services. 

Read the a statement from Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of NSC on the Expanding Apprenticeships in America Executive Order here.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, Federal Funding, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning

Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   


FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]





WIOA Adult





WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]





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





Youth Build





Senior Community Service Employment Program


$433, 535,000


-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants





Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Federal Work Study






Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Senators introduce JOBS Act

  ·   By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth
Senators introduce JOBS Act

On January 25th, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. The bill would help students access training for the 5.5 million vacant jobs that are unfilled in part due to a shortage of qualified workers.

Read NSC’s press release .

Tell your Senators to support the JOBS Act.

Under current law, Pell Grants - needs-based grants for low-income and working students— can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many job training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates.

According to NSC’s own analysis, nearly half of all job openings between now and 2024 will be “middle-skill” jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree.  While the number of students pursuing postsecondary certification is growing, the supply of skilled workers still falls short of industry demand.  Middle-skill jobs account for 53 percent of United States’ labor market, but only 43 percent of the country’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act by:

  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term skills and job training programs that lead to industry-based credentials and ultimately employment in in-demand industry sectors or careers
  • Defining eligible job training programs as those providing career and technical education instruction at an institution of higher education such as a community or technical college that provides:
  • At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks
  • Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce
  • Students with licenses, certifications or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered
    • Ensuring that students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:
    • Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
    • Are recognized by employers, industry or sector partnerships
    • Align with the skill needs of industries in the State or local economy 
  • Awarding half of the current discretionary Pell amount or $2,887 to students who attend skills and job training programs since programs are shorter and less costly

National Skills Coalition applauds Senators Kaine and Portman for their continued leadership in expanding access to high quality postsecondary education, consistent with the higher education proposals outlined in our Skills for New Jobs Agenda. We look forward to working with the Senators to advance this important legislation.

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

DOL updates WIOA reporting

  ·   By Rachel Zinn,
DOL updates WIOA reporting

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) plans to collect detailed information about Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) training provider programs, including the specific credentials that participants can receive.

This week, DOL proposed an amended information collection request that specifies additional data for states to report about training programs eligible to receive funding under WIOA Title I. It includes about a dozen new data points about training providers, including cost information, program length, occupations for which the program prepares students, and the “specific name of certificate, certification, license, or degree participants can receive (e.g., Certified Welding Inspector [CWI]).”

The information request also requires a narrative performance report from states of up to 25 pages about best practices and lessons learned, including implementation of sector strategies and career pathways.

Information about WIOA implementation will help DOL assess how well the program is working to help participants earn credentials and obtain good jobs. The new requirements for credential reporting also will add to the growing body of knowledge how different types of credentials connect with occupations and have value in the labor market.

Recommendations from Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of NSC, call for a national credentials directory that captures information about credentials earned by participants in federally-funded workforce programs, including the data that DOL is now requesting.

While we appreciate the additional data fields for eligible training provider reporting, the information request could be more clear about the process for calculating employment outcomes. States can collect much of the required information from aggregate data reported by each training provider, but it will be difficult for many providers to accurately calculate employment outcomes on their own. Instead, we recommend that states develop processes to collect individual-level data from eligible training providers for wage record matching.

Public comments on the new information collection are due March 20.

DOL also issued guidance recently that builds on WIOA performance rules. The guidance:

  • Confirms that data sources other than Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records may be used for employment reporting when necessary, such as for self-employment. Future guidance will elaborate on how to report data from supplemental sources.
  • Clarifies the definition of recognized postsecondary credentials, which include degrees, certificates, licenses, and certifications “awarded in recognition of an individual’s attainment of technical or industry/occupational skills.” Work readiness certificates do not qualify.
  • Explains that skill gains may be measured through five different methods for WIOA core programs, except Title II adult education programs, which may only use two of the five methods. National Skills Coalition comments previously objected to Title II having more limited measures of skill gains than other WIOA programs, because it may inhibit program cooperation.
  • Requires states to track co-enrollment and give unduplicated participant counts for each program, which may require reporting system modifications.
  • Clarifies that incumbent worker training participants are not included in performance measures, but some data will be reported.
  • Provides details on how to report data on participants who exit and re-enter programs.
  • Offers examples for calculating performance indicators for each program and then calculating an average indicator score across programs.
  • Confirms that states must choose two of three employer service indicators: worker retention with the same employer, repeat employer customers, or employer penetration rate (portion of all state employers using services).

This blog was originally posted on the WDQC website. 

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

DOL issues new guidance on serving immigrants

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
DOL issues new guidance on serving immigrants

The Department of Labor recently issued a Training and Employment Notice (TEN 28-16) on best practices, partnership models, and resources for serving English language learners, immigrants, and refugees.

The TEN was sent to stakeholders across the public workforce system, including state labor departments, state and local workforce boards, and American Job Centers (formerly known as one-stop centers).

The TEN emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all customers have meaningful access to the public workforce system, and describes notable requirements for federally funded workforce providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Sec. 188 and its associated nondiscrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity regulations.

The TEN also reviews specific barriers that both highly educated and less-educated immigrant and refugee jobseekers may face, and ways that those barriers can be overcome, including:

  • Limited English proficiency, which can be addressed through contextualized, workplace-based English language classes
  • Lack of familiarity with US workplace practices, which can be addressed through mock interviews and help in building social capital and professional networks

The guidance also reminds workforce stakeholders that training services under WIOA Title I can include English language training if provided in combination with another training service, and that individuals who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for WIOA Title I services (see NSC’s prior Q and A on this topic).

Six innovative partnership models for providing workforce services to immigrant and refugee jobseekers are spotlighted in the TEN. They include:

  • The Ready to Work program, offered through the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
  • Project Growing Regional Opportunity for the Workforce (GROW) in McAllen, TX
  • The Silicon Valley Alliance for Language Learners’ Integration, Education, and Success (ALLIES) Innovation Initiative in San Mateo, CA

Finally, the TEN provides copious links to technical assistance resources on issues that may affect immigrant and refugee jobseekers, such as: credentials and licensing; WIOA state plans and policy guidance; English language instruction; research on immigrant workforce integration; and trauma and human trafficking. 

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Adult Basic Education, Immigration

New Fact Sheet: Adult Educators & Local WIOA Planning

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New Fact Sheet: Adult Educators & Local WIOA Planning

Local planning for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is underway, and adult educators should weigh in. That’s the message of a new fact sheet from National Skills Coalition.

Under WIOA, local areas are required to develop four-year plans for addressing workforce needs in program years 2017-2020. Plans are required to include both strategic and operational elements.  Among the specific components required in local plans are analyses of regional economic conditions, local employers’ skill needs, the education and skill needs of the local workforce, labor market trends, and current workforce development activities in the local area.

In addition, plans must include a description of the local board’s strategic vision and goals for preparing an educated and skilled workforce, and the board’s strategy for working with WIOA core program partners to align resources and achieve the strategic vision and goals.

Local workforce boards are required to make draft plans available for a 30-day public comment period. NSC’s fact sheet provides specific suggestions for adult educators who are participating in WIOA planning as members of their local workforce boards, as well as for those who are engaging as members of the public.

For example, the fact sheet recommends that adult educators identify specific ways that local boards can capitalize on adult education expertise to meet WIOA’s mandates, such as by:

  • incorporating Title II partners in the design and implementation of career pathways;
  • formalizing a policy on participant co-enrollment in Title I/Title II programs;
  • drawing on input from Title II partners in identifying employers’ skill needs and developing industry sector partnerships; and/or
  • developing robust integrated education and training policies and programs that braid funding across multiple sources.

View the full fact sheet here.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

NSC staff participated in adult English learners and workforce convening

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
NSC staff participated in adult English learners and workforce convening

In 2015, California became the first state to create a Director of Immigrant Integration position within the governor’s office. Last month, the state built on that momentum by bringing together nearly 100 workforce, adult education, and immigrant advocates for a day-long meeting in Sacramento. The statewide gathering focused on workforce issues facing immigrants and adult English learners.

The convening was spearheaded by the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the state Workforce Development Board, working in close collaboration with the state’s Director of Immigrant Integration, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, and the California Department of Education, as well as other state agencies.

The day opened with comments from Robin Purdy, chief deputy director of the labor and workforce department, and Tim Rainey, executive director of the state workforce development board. Both speakers emphasized the importance of the event’s topic and the state’s commitment to advancing effective immigrant workforce policies.

Next, state secretary of labor and workforce development David Lanier welcomed attendees with a reflection on the role of immigrants in the state’s economy. “We are proudly a state that benefits and thrives based on our diversity…. We’re also the best example of some of the real challenges of integration and how to [ensure that the] benefits from that include everyone,” Lanier said, listing income inequality as an overarching challenge that Governor Brown’s administration has taken numerous steps to combat.

“Immigrants and their families are critical to our shared success [and] shared prosperity,” Lanier added, citing the California Dream Act as an example of state legislation that is transforming the lives of foreign-born Californians.

Next on the agenda was an overview of key policy issues in providing workforce services to immigrants and adult English learners. National Skills Coalition senior policy analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock shared examples of innovative practices in Boise, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, and St. Paul, MN.

Amanda also highlighted several California-based programs, including Building Skills Partnership’s Green Janitor training program and the Welcome Back Initiative for immigrant health professionals. Finally, she reviewed opportunities for California to advance skills policies – such as SNAP Employment and Training programs, state data systems, and career pathways – in ways that are inclusive of immigrants.

Next, Margie McHugh of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) walked the audience through key demographic highlights about California immigrants, and the resulting implications for the provision of services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Margie’s presentation drew on MPI’s California fact sheet on immigrants and WIOA; local fact sheets for several California counties are also available from MPI.

Participants also heard from two practitioners in the field:

  • Glenn Scott Davis of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs in Seattle provided a deep dive on the city’s pioneering Ready to Work program for low-level English learners. (NSC profiled the program on our Skills Blog earlier this year).
  • Sue Gilmore of the Sacramento City Unified School District and Connie Lee of the Capital Adult Education Regional Consortium (CAERC) described their partnership in serving adult English learners. CAERC is one of 71 such consortia in California, funded by the $500 million statewide Adult Education Block Grant known as AB-86.

Following a lunch break, the afternoon was spent in small-group breakout sessions. Attendees tackled one of four discussion topics:

  • Incentivizing innovations to serve English learners and immigrants
  • Improving participation and ensuring success for English learners and immigrants in the workforce
  • Providing a support system to improve the pipeline for English learners and immigrants in the larger workforce system
  • Exploring the possibility of a Workforce Navigators program, modeled after the health care navigators and promotoras models.

The day concluded with a wrap-up from Jennifer Hernandez, associate secretary for farmworker and immigrant services at the department of labor and workforce. Hernandez thanked attendees for their active participation and promised to circle back in the coming weeks with an event recap and proposed next steps.

Also making concluding remarks was Dan Torres, the state’s director of immigrant integration.  “On behalf of Governor Brown, I want to thank you for what you’re doing. It’s inspiring,” he said, adding: “No other state has as great a stake in immigrant integration as California.”

*Photo of CA Secretary of Labor courtesy of California Labor & Workforce Development Agency.

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, California

House Appropriations Committee passes FY2017 Labor-HHS bill

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
House Appropriations Committee passes FY2017 Labor-HHS bill

On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 by a 31-19 vote.

Unlike the bipartisan Senate bill marked up last month, the House bill funds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I Adult and Youth programming at current FY2016 levels; the Senate bill cut those programs by $33.5 million and $35.4 million respectively. The House version would also increase the state dislocated worker formula grant by $20 million relative to current funding levels, but makes cuts of nearly $90 million to the dislocated worker national reserve.

The Committee Report explains that this reduction of funding for the Dislocated Worker National Reserve is in part because DOL had used this fund in past years to support the Job-Driven Training and Sector Partnership grant programs. The Report criticizes the use of these funds to support these grant programs,  since the Administration had included funding for the programs in budget request and Congress had explicitly not funded those items. Even if the final FY2017 appropriations bill does not include this cut, the Committee Report language signals that we may see additional Congressional scrutiny for DOL discretionary grants, perhaps even H-1B grants, moving forward.

The House bill also leaves out funding for apprenticeship included in the FY2016 bill at $90 million and in the FY2017 Senate Labor-HHS bill at $100 million. Committee Report language criticizes the Employment and Training Administration for not releasing more programmatic data about the use of their FY2016 funds. While this lack of data is in part because ETA has only released the bulk of these funds within the past few months, this criticism is further evidence of Congressional scrutiny of Administrative grant programs. While the Senate does not seem to have the same concerns voiced by the House Committee, Senators Murray and Hatch have introduced the Effective Apprenticeships to Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, which would address the lack of data about which the House raises concerns. Under the EARNS Act,  DOL would be required to engage an outside entity to evaluate the effectiveness of apprenticeship programs and the success DOL has had in meeting the goals of each of the provisions in the bill, including increasing employment, the number of workers attaining postsecondary credentials, the return on investment of all funding mechanisms, and longitudinal outcomes for participants.

The House Labor-HHS bill, like the Senate version, would fund Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants at FY2016 levels.

Adult education state grants under WIOA Title II and career and technical education state grants under the Perkins Act are level-funded. However, the House bill does not include the restoration of “year-round Pell” that was included in the Senate bill, and makes a cut of approximately $1.3 billion in funding to the overall Pell program, which is not expected to impact maximum grant levels for the coming academic year but would reduce the amount of overall funding available for Pell in future years. At the subcommittee and full committee markups, Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced an amendment that would reinstate year-round Pell, consistent with the Senate’s Labor-HHS bill. The Subcommittee and full committee voted against including the amendment, on party lines, though Subcommittee Chairman Cole (R-OK) acknowledged this issue would likely resurface during bicameral negotiations later in the appropriations process.

National Skills Coalition appreciates the committee’s efforts to maintain WIOA formula funding at current year levels, especially as states and local areas continue with implementation of the law, though we do not support the proposed cuts to the national reserve. We are deeply disappointed by the committee’s cuts to apprenticeship grants, and we believe the committee has missed a significant opportunity to expand access to postsecondary skills and credentials by failing to adopt the Senate’s proposal to restore year-round Pell.  

The House and Senate are will recess July 15 through Labor Day, September 5, for the National Conventions and summer recess.  FY 2017 begins October 1, 2016, so Congress must pass legislation to fund the government by September 30.  Given the relatively limited time left on the legislative calendar, it is unlikely that Congress will be able to complete work on a final Labor-HHS bill, and so it is likely that lawmakers will need to pass at least a short-term continuing resolution (CR) in order to continue federal government operations until after the November elections. The House Freedom Caucus has proposed a six month CR that would extend funding at FY 2016 levels until March 2017, which would allow final FY 2017 funding decisions to be made by the next administration and Congress. House appropriators and leadership have been cool to this approach. There are some reports, however, that Senate Republicans may support such a move as well. While extending funding through a long-term CR would likely avoid any significant funding cuts for education and workforce programs in the short term, it would add to the uncertainty around future funding levels and in particular make it difficult for states and local areas to implement key workforce strategies outlined in their WIOA state plans. 

Advocates should weigh in with their members of Congress to educate them on the importance of skills investments, and urge them to push for full funding of key education and workforce programs as part of the final FY 2017 appropriations package. National Skills Coalition will continue to monitor the process and provide updates to the field as new information becomes available. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Work Based Learning, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

National Skills Coalition submits recommendations on House Perkins reauthorization

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
National Skills Coalition submits recommendations on House Perkins reauthorization

National Skills Coalition today submitted a letter to leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5587), a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The letter, which was developed in consultation with NSC’s Postsecondary Education National Advisory Panel, expresses strong support for the overall direction of the proposed bipartisan legislation, while offering specific recommendations to strengthen alignment between Perkins-funded CTE programs and other federal, state, and local investments in skills. The committee has announced that they will hold a markup hearing on the bill this Thursday, July 7th at 10 am.  

As drafted, H.R. 5587 includes a range of policy changes to Perkins that would make it easier for states and CTE providers to coordinate with activities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under WIOA, and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The proposed bill would also adopt a number of key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways. National Skills Coalition support these proposed changes, and offers additional recommendations on how the bill could be strengthened, consistent with our October 2015 reauthorization priorities, including (among other things):

  • Expanding the definition of “special populations” that must be served under Perkins to include certain populations identified as “individuals with barriers to employment” under WIOA, including long-term unemployed individuals and ex-offenders. This would promote better coordination with WIOA activities targeting individuals with barriers, while expanding access to high-quality Perkins-funded programs for such individuals.
  • Increasing authorized funding levels for the state formula grants. The bill as proposed would provide slight increases in formula grant funding, from about $1.13 billion in FY 2017 to about $1.21 billion in FY 2022; NSC notes that the FY 2022 funding would be approximately 15 percent less (in inflation-adjusted terms) than FY 2006 levels, and urges the committee to match historical investments.
  • Strengthening the postsecondary performance outcomes by adopting a measure of participation in employment, education, or advanced training in the 4th quarter after program completion and a measure of effectiveness in serving employers, consistent with WIOA. The proposed bill would include a measure of participation in education or employment in the 2nd quarter after program completion, a measure of median earnings of program completers, and a measure of individuals receiving a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • Encouraging states to use Unemployment Insurance (UI) quarterly wage records for employment outcome reporting, which would provide reliable data across states and other programs, and would enable stronger performance management, evaluation, and research,
  • Expanding investments in a proposed “Innovation Grant” fund, which could be used to support innovative activities carried out by consortia of secondary and postsecondary CTE providers, and other key stakeholders. NSC also encourages the committee to include the development of industry or sector partnerships, career pathways, and integrated education and training programs as eligible uses of these funds, as well as data pilots to improve tracking of certification and license attainment by CTE students.
  • Adding the state agency with responsibility for adult education activities under WIOA Title II to the list of entities that must be consulted as part of the state planning process.
  • Ensuring that state planning requirements relating to the development and implementation of career pathways include descriptions of how such activities will be coordinated with state and local activities funded under WIOA, to ensure consistency across programs.
  • Requiring states to carry out a range of state leadership activities that would support better student outcomes and cross-program alignment, including establishing and expanding work-based learning opportunities for CTE participants and coordinating career pathways and programs of study.
  • Establishing a minimum percentage of state formula grants for postsecondary CTE, which would help compensate for declining state investments in community and technical colleges in recent years, and support the development and implementation of high-quality programs.
  • Including industry or sector partnerships, where appropriate, as part of the local planning process, and expanding the list of required uses of local funds to support work-based learning activities and connections to sector partnerships and career pathways implemented under WIOA.

National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with policymakers and our national partners to strengthen and advance this critical legislation.   

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