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BLS Survey on Contingent Workforce Reveals more Continuity than Change

  ·   By Christina Pena,
BLS Survey on Contingent Workforce Reveals more Continuity than Change

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new contingent and alternative worker survey data on June 7, 2018. The BLS conducted the survey in May 2017 as a supplement to the Current Population Survey. Surprisingly, rates for this type of work have slightly decreased since the last survey in 2005.

BLS defines “contingent workers” as “people who do not expect their jobs to last or who reported that their jobs are temporary. They do not have an implicit or explicit contract for continuing employment.” People working under “alternative employment arrangements,” include “independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency workers, and workers provided by contract firms.”

Workforce observers were anticipating larger leaps in the percentage of people participating in the contingent and alternative workforce. The percentage of those workers as part of the overall workforce has slightly declined (although the actual number of people in those jobs has increased as the U.S. population has grown overall). Here are a few statistics from the BLS release:

  • In May 2017, 3.8 percent of all workers held contingent jobs, compared with 4.1 percent in February 2005.
  • Independent contractors (including independent consultants and freelance workers in the “alternative” work category) represented 6.9 percent of total employment, down from 7.4 percent in February 2005.
  • Contingent, full-time workers earned 23 percent less ($685) in median weekly earnings compared to their non-contingent (“traditional worker”) counterparts ($886), according to the May 2017 survey.
  • Contract company workers earned a median weekly wage of $1,077, the highest amongst alternative workers. Earnings for independent contractors ($851) were comparable to those of traditional workers ($884). On-call ($797) and temporary help agency workers ($521) earned less than other alternative workers.


Several reasons may have contributed to the relative continuity in workforce rates between the 2005 and 2017 surveys:

  • These latest figures did not include results from four new BLS questions covering job solicitation and payment through websites and mobile apps (electronically-mediated employment). BLS continues to analyze those data and expects to release those figures by the end of September 2018. With the increasing use of services such as Uber and Lyft, and online job platforms such as “Task Rabbit,” the results should interest those following debates about the “future of work.”
  • BLS conducted its 2005 contingent worker survey in the month of February. Because BLS conducted this latest survey in May, the demand for seasonal work may have affected the results, although the significance of this impact is uncertain.
  • The survey asked respondents to address the jobs for which they worked the most hours. Therefore, contingent and alternative work would have missed the cut in instances where workers spent most of their hours in traditional employment, but still held an alternative or contingent job “on the side” – as a way to make some extra money to supplement their main employment income.


Given current funding, BLS has no definite plans to conduct a similar survey in the future. This is one of the reasons WDQC has often joined other organizations in calling for BLS’s funding to at least keep pace with inflation.

For more information about the different categories of contingent and alternative workers, and more detailed data broken down by key demographic groups, visit the BLS’s Economic News Release webpage on Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

WDQC applauds new MD law to measure non-degree credential attainment

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff
WDQC applauds new MD law to measure non-degree credential attainment

On May 15, 2018, Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan signed the Career Preparation Expansion Act, which will help Maryland measure non-degree credential attainment and narrow the middle-skills gap by requiring certain entities to provide the state with data about licenses, industry certifications, and certificates. WDQC advocates for states to count non-degree credentials and provided assistance on the legislation.

The Career Preparation Expansion Act requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to collect (1) licensing data from the Department of Health and Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; (2) certificate data from postsecondary institutions; and (3) certification data from any industry certifier that receives state funding. It also requires MHEC to share this data with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) so that MLDS may link that information with workforce data in order to determine outcomes, such as the rate of employment.

As outlined in WDQC’s recent 50-state scan “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment,” many states are still working towards collecting data on certificates from non-credit programs, licenses, and industry certifications. This data is essential for helping the state understand how many of its residents are obtaining a postsecondary credential and how to narrow the state’s middle skills gap. The National Skills Coalition estimates that between 2014-2024 forty-two percent of jobs in Maryland will be middle skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. This information, particularly once matched with employment information, can help the state formulate better policy that can narrow the skills gap and create a thriving economy.

To our knowledge, the Career Preparation Expansion Act is one of the first bills in the country to require data collection from industry certifiers and may provide an example of how other states can begin to collect more information about industry certifiers.

WDQC worked with Maryland legislators to develop this bill, and Senior Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff provided written testimony in support.  National Skills Coalition member, Jobs Opportunity Task Force, supported the bill as well. If you are interested in collecting better data about non-degree credentials in your state, we encourage you to contact WDQC

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
WDQC scan reveals that states are making progress in measuring non-degree credential attainment

A new 50-state scan from WDQC, “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment", shows that states are making progress collecting data about non-degree credential attainment, including certificates, industry certifications, and licenses. Realizing that non-degree credentials can lead to strong employment outcomes, many states now have education attainment goals that include non-degree credentials of value. The case studies in this scan can help states measure progress toward these goals.  

In order to measure progress on educational attainment, states need data about non-degree credential attainment. Although states may have data about credential attainment from national surveys, WDQC’s scan asked states if they had data from administrative records, which result from the administration of a program and are more accurate than surveys. Administrative data can enable states to know which groups of people are attaining each type of credential, and where progress is needed. 

Overall, states are the most likely to have data about certificates from public for-credit programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses. States are the least likely to collect data on non-registered apprenticeship certificates and industry certifications.

States also reported which non-degree credentials data they incorporate into their longitudinal data systems. Longitudinal data systems match information from different programs and agencies across time, which can enable states to understand the education and employment outcomes of these credentials. States are the most likely to incorporate data about for-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems, and the least likely to incorporate data about non-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems.

The majority of states are able to break down data about non-degree credential attainment by certain key demographics. This can help states better understand the attainment rates of these groups. States are the most likely to disaggregate attainment results by gender, a student’s highest level of educational attainment, and veteran status. 

Finally, the scan shows that states are considering the quality of credentials. Thirty states are developing a list of “credentials of value.” These lists can help states identify quality credentials in order to administer financial aid, workforce development, or other programs.

In addition to work already being done, states can take steps to collect better administrative data about non-degree credentials. The scan contains examples of states that are already collecting certain types of non-degree credentials data. For example, Missouri has created a process to gather data about certificates awarded after the completion of a non-credit program, Tennessee has gathered data about students who take industry certification exams, and Washington state has a law which requires for-profit institutions to submit data to the state.

WDQC encourages state officials to use this scan to gauge their state’s progress in collecting data on non-degree credentials and to learn how to collect this data from other states who have done so successfully. State staff interested in collecting more data about non-degree credentials in their states should also reach out to WDQC, as we may be able to provide technical assistance.

 

*This was originally posted on the Workforce Data Quality Campaign blog.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
WDQC scan reveals that states are making progress in measuring non-degree credential attainment

A new 50-state scan from WDQC, “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment", shows that states are making progress collecting data about non-degree credential attainment, including certificates, industry certifications, and licenses. Realizing that non-degree credentials can lead to strong employment outcomes, many states now have education attainment goals that include non-degree credentials of value. The case studies in this scan can help states measure progress toward these goals.  

In order to measure progress on educational attainment, states need data about non-degree credential attainment. Although states may have data about credential attainment from national surveys, WDQC’s scan asked states if they had data from administrative records, which result from the administration of a program and are more accurate than surveys. Administrative data can enable states to know which groups of people are attaining each type of credential, and where progress is needed. 

Overall, states are the most likely to have data about certificates from public for-credit programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses. States are the least likely to collect data on non-registered apprenticeship certificates and industry certifications.

States also reported which non-degree credentials data they incorporate into their longitudinal data systems. Longitudinal data systems match information from different programs and agencies across time, which can enable states to understand the education and employment outcomes of these credentials. States are the most likely to incorporate data about for-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems, and the least likely to incorporate data about non-credit certificates into their longitudinal data systems.

The majority of states are able to break down data about non-degree credential attainment by certain key demographics. This can help states better understand the attainment rates of these groups. States are the most likely to disaggregate attainment results by gender, a student’s highest level of educational attainment, and veteran status. 

Finally, the scan shows that states are considering the quality of credentials. Thirty states are developing a list of “credentials of value.” These lists can help states identify quality credentials in order to administer financial aid, workforce development, or other programs.

In addition to work already being done, states can take steps to collect better administrative data about non-degree credentials. The scan contains examples of states that are already collecting certain types of non-degree credentials data. For example, Missouri has created a process to gather data about certificates awarded after the completion of a non-credit program, Tennessee has gathered data about students who take industry certification exams, and Washington state has a law which requires for-profit institutions to submit data to the state.

WDQC encourages state officials to use this scan to gauge their state’s progress in collecting data on non-degree credentials and to learn how to collect this data from other states who have done so successfully. State staff interested in collecting more data about non-degree credentials in their states should also reach out to WDQC, as we may be able to provide technical assistance.

 

*This was originally posted on the Workforce Data Quality Campaign blog.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Workforce Data Quality Campaign invited to OECD in Paris

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Workforce Data Quality Campaign invited to OECD in Paris

On April 5 and 6 in Paris, France, WDQC Director Bryan Wilson participated in an “Expert Workshop on Strengthening the Governance of Skills Systems,” held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  OECD is an international organization consisting of 35-member countries.  OECD asked Bryan to speak on “integrated information systems for skills,” and fully supported his participation.

OECD’s mission is, “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” OECD conducts research, develops policy recommendations, and sometimes facilitates agreements between governments. One of OECD’s four areas of focus is skills, ensuring that, “people of all ages can develop the skills to work productively and satisfyingly in the jobs of tomorrow.”

The OECD Center for Skills has worked recently to advance skill strategies in more than ten countries. Through this experience, the Center has learned how nations struggle to develop a systemic approach to skill policies. Four main challenges are: poor coordination among government agencies and levels of government, lack of collaboration with stakeholders, inefficient financing mechanisms, and lack of effective data and information systems. OECD is now proceeding to identify good policy practices to address these four challenges.

The purpose of the Expert Workshop was to provide feedback to OECD regarding their draft document outlining good policy practices in these four “dimensions”.  Being aware of WDQC’s work, they invited Bryan to speak as one of two external experts on good practices around workforce data and information systems. In all, the meeting was attended by 10 external experts, 22 OECD staff, and a representative of the European Commission. 

Many of the draft document’s points about workforce data and information systems would be familiar to an American audience: the need for accessible data for decision-making, the usefulness of longitudinal information systems, the need for cross-program data and data that crosses levels of government, and information on skill supply and demand.  The document suggested that mechanisms to support information systems include: bodies for coordinating workforce information across agencies, results-based management and accountability, and regular evaluations and transparent reporting of results.

In his comments at the Workshop, Bryan appreciated that OECD included integrated workforce data and information systems as one of four “dimensions” to systemic skills policies. He offered some suggestions for additions to the draft document.

Information systems should enable better decision-making among three primary sets of actors: policymakers, institutions or providers, and consumers.  As briefly mentioned in the document, to create integrated information systems, governments should establish longitudinal data systems that collect administrative records on program participants, administrative records on employment and earnings, link the records together, and are capable of aggregating information on individuals over time. A robust system must be based on individual unit data.

Governments should establish data tools that take data from longitudinal information systems and present the information in ways that are actionable by policymakers, institutions, and consumers. There should be dashboards designed for policymakers that show the key characteristics (such as costs and participant demographics) and educational and labor market outcomes of programs, using consistent methods and metrics to make the results easier to understand and to facilitate coordination across programs.

There should be transparent reports for consumers that show key characteristics and outcomes of programs of study at local institutions or providers, again, using consistent methods and metrics so that information is comparable, and consumers can make more informed decisions. There should be institutional feedback reports that similarly provide information on characteristics and outcomes of institutions and their programs of study, so that they may make more informed decisions about program improvement. Finally, there should be supply and demand reports that compare the number of newly trained workers per year to the number of job openings per year by field of study and level of education or training.

To implement these things require addressing certain challenges (a somewhat different list than in the draft document):

  • Creating administrative record-based information systems that are inclusive of all types of providers of skills training and the different types of credentials they produce, and comprehensive records of employment and earnings;  
  • The use of consistent metrics, horizontally and vertically across programs;
  • Getting policy-makers to use the information to inform their investments in skills training and other decisions; and
  • Wide and effective dissemination of consumer information.

As OECD’s project continues, Bryan offered to connect OECD staff to examples of good practices from American states.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

New MI Law Allows Community Colleges to Receive UI Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
New MI Law Allows Community Colleges to Receive UI Data

In March 2018, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed MI HB 4545. This bi-partisan bill enables Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) to make unemployment insurance information available to community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies.

Under previous Michigan law, only four-year colleges and universities could receive data from UIA, and they could only use that data for public-service research projects. MI HB 4545 expands the entities who are eligible to receive unemployment insurance information to include Michigan Works! Agencies and community colleges. The bill also expands the ways these entities can use the data. Now, eligible entities may receive and use data for program planning and evaluation, grant application or evaluation, accreditation, economic or workforce research, award eligibility, or state or federal mandated reporting. The bill also requires UIA to make information about what types of data it can share available online, and to help eligible institutions apply to receive data.

A companion bill, HB 4546, holds anyone involved with an eligible entity liable for misusing unemployment insurance information. Offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

“This bill will simplify the process for community colleges and Michigan Works! vocational programs. These bills are an opportunity for us to make Michigan stronger and make better employment opportunities available to our residents,” said Michigan state representative Gary Howell.

According to stakeholders, both bills were introduced and passed in large part because of advocacy from the state’s community colleges. Michigan’s community colleges have long advocated for better access to unemployment insurance wage records in order to improve programs and better meet employer demand. In 2016, the community colleges helped develop HB 5763, which would have provided community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies with access to unemployment insurance information. WDQC submitted written testimony in support of that effort. HB 4545 is substantially similar to HB 5763, representing a victory for the community college and workforce systems after years of hard work.

HB 4545 will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

  ·   By Jessica Cardott
The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

(Main photo: Skills Summit’s Indiana Delegation with Sen. Todd Young)

This year’s Skills Summit, NSC’s big tent convening, took place February 5-7 with nearly 350 stakeholders from 36 states. Attendees were invited to reflect on the policy successes of the past year and visualize the future of America’s workforce.

What we’ve achieved, what remains to be done

Attendees prepared for advocating on Capitol Hill with two days of rigorous policy deep dives into the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda. The agenda was developed by the Coalition in late 2016 to provide a strategic skills policy roadmap for the incoming administration. Our last year of advocacy has made significant impact, with 8 of the 12 legislative proposals of the Skills For Good Jobs Agenda being currently introduced in Congress, with one of those key policies – the JOBS Act – receiving vocal support from the administration as well.  With bipartisan support on the majority of these bills, the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda is well positioned to shape our nation’s skills policies.

Members of Congress show their support

Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR) discussing the PARTNERS Act (HR 4115)

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1st) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3rd) took the stage together on the second day to share why they came to be bipartisan co-sponsors of the PARTNERS Act. Both legislators shared their personal commitment to the work and reflected on how support for industry partnerships works as a bipartisan effort.

Sen. Hassan at the Expanding Postsecondary Pathways for Working Adults Hill Briefing

Timing was everything at the Skills Summit this year. Sen. Hassan (D-NH) announced the introduction of the Gateway to Careers Act in the company of Summit attendees during the Skills Summit Hill briefing on expanding postsecondary career pathways for working adults. The House of Representatives version of the BUILDS Act was introduced by Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI-10th) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) during the Summit as well.

Looking into the future

The content of the Skills Summit offered practical and actionable strategies to move policy on Capitol Hill, but also left room for thinking about the United States’ workforce development path more broadly.  NSC Chief Executive Officer Andy Van Kleunen facilitated a plenary on the future of work with leaders in the field including Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff for the Obama Administration, Portia Wu, the Director of Workforce Policy at Microsoft, Scott Paul, the President of Alliance for American Manufacturing, and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development for California’s Community Colleges.

 

Video of the Future of Work plenary can be found here.

Attendees concluded the Skills Summit by bringing their local stories to Capitol Hill. Altogether, Summit-goers logged over 200 individual meetings with legislative offices.  In the history of the coalition’s advocacy, we’ve never gone to the hill with a more cohesive menu of actionable ideas, incorporating post-secondary education, industry partnerships, data transparency, immigration and welfare supports into our strategic recommendations. In today’s divisive political climate, the bipartisan nature of the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda offers a clear path to growing the economy by investing in people, so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

Champions and sponsors

NSC recognized coalition members whose talent and dedication allow us to move the needle on skills policy:

  • Our Skills Champion award for outstanding federal advocacy went to Pat Steele of Central Works Iowa.
  • The Power NAP-per award for outstanding contribution to an NSC National Advisory Panel (NAP) was given to Mark Kessenich of WRTP/BIG STEP, Wisconsin.
  • Our Road Warriors award for tireless advocacy in the face of a commute to DC was given to WES Global Talent Bridge in New York.
  • Kwee Lan Teo of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas was given the Taking Care of Business award for mobilizing the business voice to advocate for skills policy.
  • The Partners in Crime award was given to National Council for Workforce Education for their inspired collaboration with NSC throughout 2017.


NSC would like to thank this year’s Skills Summit sponsors, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Siemens Foundation and Walmart.  Without their support, this event would not be possible.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Tax Policies, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

New WDQC fact sheet highlights expert recommendations for stronger workforce data

  ·   By Christina Pena,
New WDQC fact sheet highlights expert recommendations for stronger workforce data

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking that was established by legislation sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), proposed actions in September 2017 that are mostly consistent with WDQC’s recommendations.  These actions would change how the government uses the data it already collects, and would improve the quality of information policymakers have about federal investments. 

WDQC has produced a new fact sheet: Adopt These Expert Recommendations to Strengthen Workforce Data, which summarizes some of the Commission’s key recommendations that could bolster workforce information, including:

  • Creating a secure national data matching service,
  • Producing a single source of quarterly employment data,
  • Reconsidering bans on data collection and use; and,
  • Establishing stronger capacity for program evaluation through the creation of dedicated chief evaluation officers and increased coordination across agencies.

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that addresses some of the first steps toward implementing the Commission’s vision, including the establishment of chief evaluation officers, chief data officers, an interagency advisory committee, and updates to privacy and security law. WDQC published a blog summarizing that legislation.

WDQC looks forward to providing additional information in the future, and working with other interested parties to make progress on this important agenda.

 

This blog was originally posted by Workforce Data Quality Campaign.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

MT Releases Report on Postsecondary Labor Market Outcomes and Supply/Demand

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff

Last week, Montana’s Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) released a new report entitled "Meeting State Worker Demand: A report on the Labor Market Outcomes for Montana Colleges." The report answers two particularly important questions:

          (1) Are Montana’s colleges producing enough graduates to meet employer demand? and

          (2) What are Montana graduates’ employment outcomes one, three, and five years after graduation?

This report will be helpful for policymakers and program managers, who can make policy changes (such as creating more or different education and training programs) to ensure that the state’s education and training system is meeting the skill needs of Montana employers. Students can also use this information to make better decisions about their educational options.

The report contains data from sixteen colleges who participate in the Montana University System data warehouse, as well as two other institutions that submitted data solely for this report. This data was linked with Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records maintained by the MTDLI, tax data maintained by the Department of Revenue (DOR), and two and ten-year labor market projections produced by MTDLI in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Linking education and DOR data allowed Montana to get more accurate graduate employment outcomes than many other states have been able to get for similar reports. Because self-employed persons do not participate in the UI program, they cannot be found in UI wage records. Linking with the DOR data allowed the state to find those who are self-employed and others who do not participate in the UI program. In order to comply with strict confidentiality requirements, the DOR provided only aggregate level data to MTDLI.  

WDQC applauds Montana not just for making better information available to policymakers and students, but for committing to using this data to impact policy. The state has already used this data to inform the development of new college-sponsored apprenticeship programs, to create new career pathways, and to inform Missoula College’s strategic planning.

To learn more about Montana’s data infrastructure and use, please visit Montana’s state page

 

*This blog post was originally posted on the WDQC website

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

New Leadership at WDQC

New Leadership at WDQC

It’s an exciting day for the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), as Bryan Wilson becomes the new director of the initiative. Bryan brings years of experience in workforce development and career and technical education, including demonstrated success in using data for policy and program improvement.

Bryan spent the bulk of his career in Washington state as deputy director of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, where he led creation of the state’s accountability system for workforce development. He also managed a national effort to design an updated performance management system for workforce programs, publishing recommendations later codified in the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Earlier, Bryan held policy posts in the governor’s office and in the state House of Representatives.

In 2013, Bryan moved to Washington D.C. to become the State Policy Director for the National Skills Coalition, which is WDQC’s parent organization. In this role, Bryan oversaw the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). His expertise was instrumental in helping state officials create data tools to align programs with employer skill needs.

Bryan replaces Rachel Zinn, the founding director of WDQC. During her four years leading the project, Rachel successfully positioned the WDQC as a recognized authority on workforce data policy issues both in D.C. and the states. Rachel is relocating to the Baltimore area, where she will join city government as a senior budget analyst.

We look forward to a smooth transition and new opportunities for WDQC to advocate for better data that can help improve our nation’s workforce development policy. As a longtime member of the National Skills Coalition team — and a frequent collaborator with WDQC policy analysts Jenna Leventoff and Christina Pena — Bryan is well-positioned to further integrate data advocacy into the organization’s broader work to ensure that every worker and every industry has the necessary skills to grow and thrive.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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