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New WIOA community engagement guide aims to bolster nonprofit input in planning process

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New WIOA community engagement guide aims to bolster nonprofit input in planning process

Note: A webinar about this new guide will be held on August 23, 2018. The webinar is being co-hosted by the International Rescue Committee, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, and Workforce Matters. Register here.

A newly released publication is encouraging community-based organizations in California to actively participate in their local Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) planning process and otherwise engage with their local workforce boards.

California Nonprofits and the Public Workforce System: How CBOs Can Make Their Voices Heard in the WIOA Planning Process is a short, readable guide designed for nonprofit advocates. It is being released in anticipation of the upcoming deadline for the required modifications of WIOA plans, which occurs midway through the plans’ four-year timeframe.

The guide was authored by Erica Bouris of the nonprofit International Rescue Committee, which has offices in 26 US locations, including six in California. It was funded by the Grove Foundation and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. Both foundations are part of the Immigrant Workforce Learning Community, a group co-convened by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees and Workforce Matters.

Sections of the guide include:

  • What is WIOA planning and why does it matter?
  • Workforce system fundamentals: Understanding the local system and services
  • Who makes decisions about WIOA investments and services locally? 
  • How much funding is at stake?
  • Where do CBOs fit into this?
  • How could your CBO engage in the WIOA planning process?
  • What obligations do Workforce Development Boards have in the WIOA planning process and service delivery?

The publication also provides examples of how California nonprofits have engaged with their local public workforce system, including by informing strategy development for Opportunity Youth, having a seat on the local workforce board, becoming a contracted service provider, winning competitive grants through the state workforce board’s Workforce Accelerator Fund, and participating in the state’s trailblazing English Language Learner (ELL) Navigator program.

Finally, nonprofits are provided with practical suggestions for how to participate, including by making public comments at workforce board meetings, sharing reports and data, inviting workforce staff to witness programs in action, and applying for a seat on the workforce board.

The guide complements more formal guidance previously released by the California Workforce Development Board. That guidance requires local workforce boards to take specific steps to ensure that a diverse range of stakeholders have opportunities to participate in WIOA planning.

Posted In: Immigration, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Senate Subcommittee moves forward bipartisan spending bill to fund workforce and education programs

Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) moved forward a bipartisan funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Senate appropriators were working with an allocation of $2.2 billion more in funding than the subcommittee had in FY 2018, unlike the House process for which appropriators had level funding.

The Senate bill is not yet available online, but a committee summary describes level funding for state formula grants under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, increased funding for apprenticeship programs ($15 million more than in FY2018, up to $160 million) and Adult Education state grants ($642 million, $25 million more than in FY 2018) and an increase to the maximum Pell award of $100, bringing the max to $6,195. The Senate bill would level fund Career and Technical Education programs; the House version would increase funding by $115 million over FY 2018 levels.  Earlier this week, a group of bipartisan members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that advanced through committee and is expected to be considered on the floor in the coming weeks.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark-up the bill on Thursday, June 28th. The House appropriations process has stalled this week after the full Appropriations Committee mark-up of the House Labor-HHS bill was rescheduled, for a second time. The House process continues to be more partisan than that in the Senate, in part because of cuts required – including to WIOA Title III – to offset increases in other programming – including increases for National Institute of Health and an opioid response – under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction because the House subcommittee did not receive an increase in their allocation for FY 2019.

Despite the continued negotiations around the House bill, the House committee report included important recognition of the role of partnerships between industry, the workforce system, educators, and community organizations. In the report, the committee recognized the role of these industry partnerships in closing the skill gap, meeting employer needs and expanding apprenticeship across the country.

Once the both chambers advance their bills, Senate and House appropriators will meet to agree on final funding levels. The final spending on workforce and education programs is likely to be close to those in the Senate version of the bill.

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

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
Maryland uses nearly $1 million in WIOA discretionary funds to support career pathways via co-enrollment

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) recently announced the award of nearly $1 million in discretionary Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds, also known as Governor’s Reserve funds. The awards will support local workforce boards and their partners in implementing innovative career pathways programs.

Workforce boards were able to apply for up to $250,000 in funding to develop innovative demonstration projects with a consortium of local partners, including adult education providers and business partners. Eligible applicants were provided with a menu of potential interventions that had been identified by the state as best practices.

The focus of this first round of awards is on career pathways that use an integrated approach that combines foundational skills and occupational or industry-specific training. The target population is adults who have foundational skills gaps in literacy, numeracy, or spoken English.

While co-enrollment in WIOA Title I workforce and Title II adult education services has long been a goal for the public workforce system, national numbers have remained stubbornly low. Maryland’s use of discretionary funds to foster connections between Title I and Title II providers represents a notable step towards better coordination. It comes on the heels of the state’s earlier efforts to facilitate joint assessment across WIOA partners.

Specific areas of focus for the newly funded projects are as follows:

  • Mid-Maryland (Howard and Carroll Counties) will use a multi-pronged approach to connect English Language Learners with careers in allied healthcare, starting with training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. The partners will implement Integrated Education and Training, Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education, English Language Acquisition, and distance learning activities, create a Transition Specialist staff position, and provide a bridge class to help participants make the leap.

  • Prince George's County will create career pathways in construction for English Language Learners through the development of pre-apprenticeship programs and a registered apprenticeship. Occupational focus areas are commercial painting, facilities maintenance, and trowel/block masonry. 

  • Baltimore City will utilize Integrated Education and Training via the I-BEST model to connect adult learners enrolled in WIOA Title II programming with a healthcare career pathway. The project will train individuals to become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in partnership with the Baltimore City Fire Department.

Notably, two of the three projects respond to the sizeable role played by English Language Learners in Maryland’s workforce, and the importance of ensuring that such workers have effective on-ramps to occupational training opportunities. National Skills Coalition previously highlighted this issue in our Immigrants and Middle-Skill Jobs in Maryland fact sheet.

While the use of Integrated Education and Training approaches is mandated by WIOA, states and localities have relatively wide latitude in determining the extent to which this model is adopted, the particular type(s) of IET to be implemented, and the number of individuals participating in such programs. The best-known version of IET remains the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model developed in Washington State.

(National Skills Coalition has previously documented a range of efforts by state policymakers to support IET that goes beyond what is required under WIOA. Our 50-state scan details the status of such policies in each state, while our state policy toolkit highlights the key elements of a robust IET policy and provides model language that advocates can use in their own states.)

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

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
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