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California appropriates $200 million for a strong workforce

  ·   By Bryan Wilson ,
California appropriates $200 million for a strong workforce

The California legislature has appropriated $200 million for the community colleges’ Strong Workforce Program. In 2015, the community colleges’ Board of Governors’ Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy issued a set of recommendations to enhance postsecondary career technical education. The appropriation funds the Task Force’s recommendations that include actions to increase student success, build career pathways, enhance data, strengthen curriculum, increase the pool of qualified instructors, and improve regional coordination.

The $200 million is a remarkable investment in middle-skill training, and the accompanying legislation represents an extraordinary partnership between the California community colleges and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) system.   

The legislation calls for aligning the Strong Workforce Program with the California Workforce Development Board’s Strategic Workforce Development Plan. Both the Strong Workforce Program and the Strategic Plan emphasize regional planning, and the legislation requests that planning regions be aligned to the extent possible.  Moreover, under the legislation the Strong Workforce Program plans must be “informed by, aligned with, and expand upon” the regional plans established under WIOA.  

In order to receive funding from the Strong Workforce Program, a community college must be part of a Regional Collaborative. The Regional Collaborative must include community college districts, local educational agencies, interested campuses of the California State University and the University of California, civic leaders, workforce development boards, and representatives from labor, economic development, and business.

Forty percent of the funds allocated by the state must go to the fiscal agents of the Regional Collaboratives and must be used to meet the needs identified in the Collaborative and WIOA regional plans. Sixty percent of the funds must go to individual college districts to carry out activities consistent with the two plans.

The legislation also supports the use of industry partnerships and urges the community colleges to build upon the industry partnerships established under WIOA. Other strategies endorsed by the legislation include career pathways, integrated support services, work-based learning, and the use of the WIOA common measures.  Permissible uses of the funds include contributing to the development of cross-program reporting consistent with WIOA. 

By aligning the Strong Workforce Program with WIOA planning, strategies, and measures, California will advance the coordination of workforce development programs as it increase resources for job-driven investments.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships, California

Ready to work: Seattle creates new on-ramp for immigrant English learners

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
Ready to work: Seattle creates new on-ramp for immigrant English learners

When a group of stakeholders in Seattle identified that low-level adult English Language Learners were often struggling to succeed in community college, they took action.

The group collaborated with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle City Council, and three city agencies -- the Human Services Department, Office of Economic Development, and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs – to develop a successful model for serving these learners that could be replicated.

After substantial research and development, the Ready to Work (RTW) program launched in 2015. RTW was created as a prototype model of English language acquisition, career development, and employment, offered in a community-based setting. The program’s goal is “to empower and support immigrants and refugees in overcoming barriers on their journey to economic stability, quality jobs and integration into life in Seattle.”  One of the key features of RTW is its commitment to track participants’ progress over a longer time frame than conventional funding streams typically allow.

What It Is: Program Details

Ready to Work combines English as a Second Language (ESL) classes with computer literacy instruction and case management to help immigrants gain job readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency.

Classes meet four days a week, three hours a day, for a total of 12 hours per week. Instruction is provided by two Seattle Colleges and Literacy Source (a community-based adult education provider).  The initial program design also includes:

  • Managed enrollment; new participants can join the class only during quarterly enrollment periods
  • Variable length of participation; learners may stay in the class for a few weeks to 6 months or more, given continued progress
  • Community-based learning; classes are held onsite at the nonprofit Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) and at South Seattle College
  • Regular digital literacy; learning opportunities are provided daily to participants
  • Activities integrated into curriculum; for example, field trips and guest speakers are pre- and post-taught

RTW also includes several notable features that go beyond English language instruction, says Glenn Scott Davis, who serves as program and policy specialist for the city’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA). These features include:

Case Management Navigation and Support. Each quarter, participants receive an average of 10 hours of case management and $250 in support services from ACRS (e.g., discounted public transit passes; gas or grocery cards). “This is an advantage of housing the program at a multi-service nonprofit organization such as ACRS,” says Davis. “Case managers can integrate a multitude of services on-site.” The case managers also help learners to navigate to their appropriate next-step placement at Seattle Colleges or in other education and training programs. Continued case management is available to participants as an ongoing support system even after they graduate from RTW classes.

Workshop Thursdays. These regularly scheduled events include field trips to cultural resources such as the Seattle Art Museum and public libraries; visits to area employers such as Nordstrom, Starbucks, and the PCC grocery chain; and visits to pre-apprenticeship programs.  On other Thursdays, guest speakers visit the classroom to help participants learn about opportunities for job training as home care aides and child care assistants; improve their financial literacy; and find out about childcare resources. Human Resources staff from industry partners also conduct mock interviews to help participants prepare for the job market.

Contextualized instruction. “[Classes] focus on contextualized learning, with a lot of visual aids and group work,” says Davis. “It’s not necessarily [industry-specific], but career development starts from the very beginning [of the program], and we expose people to a wide range of careers.” Teachers and case managers help participants gain a deeper awareness of their existing talents and strengths – a fundamental building block of a self-directed career plan.

Who Is In the Classroom? About the Participants

RTW’s target audience is adult English Language Learners who are seeking initial employment or a better job. Participants typically score at the lowest levels (1-3) of the National Reporting System for adult education. In addition, participants’ literacy and communications skills even in their first language vary widely.

Among participants to date, the top countries of origin are Ethiopia, Vietnam, China, and Mexico. Fully two-thirds (67%) of participants have less than a high school diploma, including 28% who have not even attended high school.

In order to reach potential participants, RTW works with a wide range of community partners to publicize the program and its eligibility criteria.

Multilingual outreach flyers are available in Chinese, English, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese and other widely spoken languages.

Participants are referred through numerous avenues, including ethnic and community based organizations, ethnic media, and other service providers.

All Together Now: Program Partners

In addition to the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, RTW’s lead partners include: HomeSight (a nonprofit community development corporation), ACRS, Literacy Source, and two Seattle Colleges (South and Central).

Nearly two dozen other organizations, including city agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and businesses, serve as recruitment, referral or employment partners for the program.

 “The intent of Ready to Work was never to compete with existing adult education programs, but to demonstrate the efficacy of a focused, community-based model that can be replicated on a larger scale to collectively produce better outcomes for learners with lower levels of English,” says OIRA’s Davis. “What we’re doing is developing organic ties between the RTW program and those next-step trainings – not just at college, but also community-based and industry-based short-term trainings – that can help people get quality jobs sooner rather than later.”

RTW has been deliberate in building its initial partnerships with business. “We have started the process of cultivating targeted relationships across sectors with quality employers,” says Davis. “That way, even if people end up in a job that [has a lower starting wage], it will have other benefits and a work culture that is supportive of ongoing learning and mobility.” 

Paying For It: The Funding Source

The city is using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to initially support Ready to Work, with the nonprofit HomeSight serving as the project’s fiscal agent.   These funds are distributed through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to communities around the country. They are flexible in design and can be used for a wide variety of activities, including employment and training services for people with low- and moderate incomes.

Other funding sources for RTW include Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds from the Workforce Development Council, and Washington State funds for adult education through the Seattle Colleges.

The Broader Context: Using Municipal Priorities as a Springboard

While many cities receive CDBG funds, relatively few have used them for programs serving jobseekers with limited English skills. One factor in Seattle’s approach is its ongoing Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), the City’s commitment to eliminating racial disparities and achieving racial equity.

“The City requires all of its programs to use the racial and social justice toolkit,” explains Davis. “It really helped us be able to define and talk about the Ready to Work program…we aren’t [just] looking at this in terms of access or opportunity, but in terms of equitable outcomes.”

In part, Ready to Work was born out of the recognition that “what transforms people’s lives in the short term is a really good learning experience and a really good job experience,” adds Davis. “One of our core goals is to empower participants as self-directed learners who can make informed decisions…which is key to attaining economic stability and full integration into the life of Seattle.”

Measuring It: An Outside Evaluation

Early results from RTW are strong, says Davis: “Our attendance, retention and completion rates are very high -- we think that shows what people are getting out of the program.”

But Ready to Work isn’t relying on anecdotal findings or even traditional program output data to prove its value. Rather, OIRA has contracted with the well-known firm RTI International to conduct an in-depth third-party evaluation of the program.

Key outcomes being tracked include:

  • Language Skills: Continued level gains; progression in English skills
  • Participation: Attendance in classes and workshops; quarterly course completion and attrition rates; advancement in next-quarter RTW classes and higher level non-RTW programs
  • Employment and Self Sufficiency: Initial and second job placements; progression to self-sufficiency; and retention and advancement
  • Educational Advancement: Advancement to and progression in next-level courses and/or programs and beyond
  • Continuing Participation in English Language Acquisition: Finding ways of engaging employed RTW grads in ongoing English language learning

“A big challenge for so many adult ESL programs is the lack of long-term tracking [of participant outcomes],” says Davis. “So that is what we're attempting to do here. We want to track the longer term impact of our investments in Ready to Work and determine the efficacy and replicability of the model in Seattle and elsewhere.”

The RTI report is expected to be released in Summer 2016.

Next Steps: Learning and Looking Forward

While the Ready to Work program is still in its initial phase, Davis and his colleagues have already begun to identify early lessons. A particular area of focus has been how to ensure that participants have a smooth and successful transition to their next educational or vocational step.  

A key challenge is that while participants may have the desire to seek ongoing education and training following the RTW program, most have an urgent need to find employment.  “We look for the best possible immediate job options,” says Davis. Complicating factors, he explains, is that desirable pre-apprenticeship programs in construction and childcare certification require higher levels of English proficiency. “Our ACRS case managers work with college staff to smooth the transition and place learners in the most appropriate next-level ESL class for their particular goals,” he says.

Another major learning from RTW thus far is that immigrant English language learners follow a variety of paths to economic stability.  One size does not fit all –nor should it, according to Davis.

In particular, while RTW serves participants who are pursuing educational paths leading to college certification (and eventually to the quality jobs that require those certifications), as well as participants who were professionals in their home countries and seek to return to professional jobs, the program also recognizes that the needs of other participants who are not yet equipped to take those paths.  

Going forward, Davis says, RTW will be digging deeper into the question of how to most effectively facilitate learners’ transitions to short-term, industry-focused skills training programs with strong English language supports that can lead to a quality working-class job.  “Where such programs do not exist, OIRA will work with colleagues in the City of Seattle and with our key community, adult education, college, workforce development, and employer stakeholders to nurture new programs,” he says, “in order to provide these participants with equitable pathways to quality jobs.”

In the months ahead, Davis and his colleagues will be tackling these and other questions – including big-picture questions around supportive services, social benefits, and job-creation/job-quality strategies. These structural questions go beyond any single program or institutional actor, and Seattle is looking across the country for ideas to inform its efforts, including to New York City’s Career Pathways initiative.

Tackling structural challenges is nothing new for Seattle, of course. From the citywide Race and Social Justice Initiative to the much smaller Ready to Work program itself, city officials and stakeholders are using a fresh lens to examine long-held assumptions. The picture looks promising.  

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Adult Basic Education, Immigration, Career Pathways, Skills Equity, Washington

Federal agencies issue joint letter of commitment on career pathways

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
Federal agencies issue joint letter of commitment on career pathways

Thirteen US government agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, the Social Security Administration, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, have issued a letter of commitment affirming the importance of aligning workforce and education systems to support career pathways.

The letter is directed toward state, regional, local, and tribal officials as well as other stakeholders in adult education, workforce development, and human services. It encourages these stakeholders to connect to offer necessary skills training and support services to ensure participants in career pathways have success in their career search and progression.

The letter emphasizes the role of two federal initiatives in supporting the creation of effective career pathways: the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the Vice President’s Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity report. A federal definition of career pathways was formally codified in WIOA, intended to improve systems alignment. You can find more information in NSC’s Aligned by Design webinar and fact sheet series.

The joint letter is an outgrowth of the Obama Administration’s interagency Skills Working Group, which launched in 2014. The Working Group coordinates skills-related activities across the White House National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the thirteen Federal agencies listed above. In 2014, Working Group members held a National Dialogue on Career Pathways in which NSC staff participated.

The letter lists a number of ways in which federal agencies have already incorporated career pathways approaches in their investments, technical assistance, and other activities. These include the release of a Career Pathways Toolkit from the Department of Labor, the release of a report on the evolution of career pathways from the Department of Education, and the creation of a multi-agency Career Pathways Exchange, which provides a free monthly newsletter and other online resources.

In addition, the Department of Education has a current funding opportunity open for the Performance Partnership Pilot, or P3 initiative. These grants allow states, localities and tribes flexibility in the form of blended funding and waivers of certain programmatic requirements in order to test innovative strategies to improve outcomes for disconnected youth. While not limited to career pathways approaches, the P3 initiative does explicitly permit their use. The P3 initiative is a joint effort of the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences. 

Posted In: Career Pathways, Skills Equity

DOL requests information on industry intermediaries to expand apprenticeship

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
DOL requests information on industry intermediaries to expand apprenticeship

On February 25, Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) released a Request For Information (RFI) for contracts to fund 8-10 industry intermediaries to expand apprenticeship. These contracts will build on DOL’s Sectors of Excellence in Apprenticeship (SEAs) Initiative and last year’s $175 million in American Apprenticeship Grants, both launched to further the President’s goal of doubling the number of apprentices in the US by 2019. DOL, through SEAs, has identified priority industries in which it will be targeting expansion – Healthcare, Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Transportation, Construction, Insurance and Financial Services, and Cybersecurity.

Under the RFI, an “intermediary” is an industry association, labor-management partnership organization, workforce intermediary, consortium of employers, state-wide community college system or consortium of community colleges. Recipient intermediaries would be required to:  

  • conduct outreach to their target sector,
  • assist employers in developing programming sufficient to meet standards required for registration,
  • promote innovation and inclusive practices – such as promoting diversity, alignment with post-secondary credentials, expanding competency-based apprenticeship, and aligning Career and Technical Education with the Registered Apprenticeship system, particularly for youth,
  • develop and support a full-time employee dedicated to expanding apprenticeship within an industry,
  • develop materials to support an apprenticeship program, and – if necessary –
  • provide financial support up to $75,000 per employer to expand or create new apprenticeship programs.

Funding for the contracts will come from a new $90 million Congressional investment in expanding apprenticeship for Fiscal Year 2016.

DOL is asking respondents to submit responses by Friday, March 11, describing the respondent’s capacity for acting as an intermediary and successfully performing the activity detailed above. Contracts should be awarded in the summer of 2016.

Posted In: Work Based Learning, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Sector Partnerships

Federal agencies release final requirements for WIOA unified, combined plans

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
Federal agencies release final requirements for WIOA unified, combined plans

Earlier today, the US Department of Labor, in coordination with the US Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development, released the final requirements for State Unified or Combined Plans as required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The information collection (IC) outlines all of the elements that must be included in a state plan, including the basic requirements for a Unified Plan that covers only the six “core” programs under Titles I-IV of WIOA, and additional elements that are required for a Combined plan that includes the core programs and at least one additional workforce or education program described in sec. 103 of WIOA.

The agencies released a draft of the state plan requirements for public comment in August 2015, and National Skills Coalition submitted recommendations in response to this draft in September 2015. The agencies have posted a “supporting statement” that outlines the comments received from NSC and other organizations, and modifications to the August draft IC made in response to those recommendations. Among other things, the agencies accepted NSC’s recommendations to:

  • Require states to provide clear descriptions of the industry or sector partnerships and career pathways that will be implemented in the state, including descriptions of how core programs and other partner programs are aligned to support sector partnerships.
  • Require states to include a description in the state plans of the methods used for joint planning and coordination across core and partner programs.
  • Expand the requirement that states describe efforts to engage community colleges and area career and technical education (CTE) schools to include other education and training providers, including training programs on the state eligible training provider list and adult education providers.
  • Clarify that accessibility requirements for the one-stop system, including physical accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, apply to all one-stop partner programs and operators.

The revised IC and supporting statement also:

  • Provides that states will not be required to include one-stop infrastructure cost-sharing agreements (as described under section 121(h) of WIOA) in their first WIOA plan, but will be required to describe their process for how they will develop such agreements by 2018;
  • Adds a requirement that states describe how they will ensure accessibility in the one-stop system for individuals with limited English proficiency;
  • Provides that assessments of the effectiveness of core programs and one-stop partner programs (as required under section 102(b)(2)(C)) will not be required until states submit plan modifications in 2018;
  • Includes a requirement that states identify criteria for approval of local transfers of funds between Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker programs.

Labor had previously announced an extension of state plan submission deadlines from March 3, 2016 to April 1, 2016. The agencies have also indicated that final rules for implementation of WIOA will be released by June 2016.   

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships

Building skills in the retail sector

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock ,
Building skills in the retail sector

A year-long pilot project is underway to help retail workers with limited English proficiency to improve their language skills. Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce (pdf) is a joint initiative of Miami Dade College, the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, and the National Immigration Forum. It is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.

Nationally, nearly half (48%) of all immigrant workers have limited English proficiency. The retail sector in particular has high numbers of immigrant workers: Data from the Migration Policy Institute indicate that 14% of workers employed in the “Retail Trade” industry category are foreign-born. Immigrants represent an even higher percentage of those employed in service occupations overall, at nearly 1 in 4 workers.

A Three-City Pilot

The pilot initiative is designed to help retail workers in three cities -- Houston, Miami, and New York -- to improve their English language skills, thus opening up opportunities for career advancement and fostering long-term economic success. As data from the international Survey of Adult Skills has recently affirmed, there is a strong link between improved English skills and higher wages in the United States. 

An estimated 750 participants will be served during the project’s first year. The majority are expected to be front-line workers such as cashiers and stock clerks – occupations where limited English proficient employees are most prevalent, and where improved language skills can have a rapid and positive effect. The program will be free to participants courtesy of the Walmart Foundation’s support.

Best Practices in Contextualized English & Employer Engagement

Drawing on best practices in adult education, the project will integrate contextualized English language instruction with other skills needed in the retail workplace, such as active listening and spontaneous conversation. In addition to helping workers to enhance their fluency with retail-specific vocabulary, the skill-building classes will enable workers to improve their communication with colleagues, increase customer satisfaction, and improve safety on the job. 

Multiple employers are expected to be engaged in the development and delivery of classes, which will blend worksite and online participation. Initial businesses include Kroger and Publix grocery stores, as well as employer partners of the National Immigration Forum’s existing New American Workforce program.

Wider Implications?

The project’s development is expected to be closely watched by stakeholders in the workforce development, adult education and immigrant integration fields. Several of its primary features reflect themes found in major federal legislation and policies such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

In particular, the project’s emphasis on employer engagement and on job-driven English language and skill-building reflect new WIOA outcome measures and the legislation’s emphasis on tighter connections between adult education and workforce services.  

About the Project Partners

The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education is a national network based at Westchester Community College in suburban New York City. Among CCCIE’s 2015 activities was the release of a study on how today’s New Americans are being served by community colleges.

Miami Dade College is the largest and most diverse college in the United States. With eight campuses, a major outreach center and more than 165,000 students from across the world, the College offers over 300 programs of study and vocational, associate, and baccalaureate degrees. MDC’s President Eduardo J. Padrón expressed strong support for this project, noting that he himself is an immigrant. 

The National Immigration Forum is a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington DC. The Forum’s New American Workforce program works with businesses to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become full participants in the workplace, community and economy.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s support of this project is part of its $100 million Opportunity initiative to increase the economic mobility of entry-level workers across the country. 

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Florida

Governors propose workforce initiatives - Part 2

  ·   By Bryan Wilson ,
Governors propose workforce initiatives - Part 2

More governors have announced 2016 workforce development initiatives in proposed state budgets and state of the state addresses. Initiatives include support for sector partnerships, secondary and postsecondary career and technical education, training in STEM fields, and P-20W state longitudinal data systems. State legislators are now considering the governors’ requests. This is the second of two blog posts highlighting this year’s gubernatorial proposals.

Massachusetts Governor Baker proposed $83.5 million to enhance career and technical education: $75 million over five years to fund grants for equipment; $7.5 million for work-based learning grants, including nearly doubling support for school-to-career connecting activities; and $1 million for new Career Technical Partnership Grants to strengthen relationships between vocational schools, comprehensive high schools, and employers. The Governor also proposed $5 million to help the chronically unemployed including: $2 million to create a new Economic Opportunity Fund that will  invest in community-based organizations that partner with businesses to offer job training and hiring opportunities; $2 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, the state’s sector partnership program, marking the first time that new funding would be available for two consecutive years; and $1 million to expand the statewide re-entry and job training program for former criminal offenders re-entering society.

Tennessee Governor Haslam proposed $10 million for the second round of Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) grants, the state’s sector partnership program. The Governor also requested $20 million for the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund, to help community and technical colleges meet the growing demand for degrees and certificates. The Tennessee Promise of two-years of free tuition for high school graduates and the Tennessee Reconnect policy of free tuition for adults, who have some postsecondary education but not a credential, are rapidly increasing student demand. Drive to 55, is the Governor’s effort to reach the goal of 55 percent of Tennessee’s population having a degree or certificate by 2025.

Kentucky Governor Bevin proposed a new bond pool of $100 million for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to co‐invest with local communities to meet demand for high‐skill jobs, including jobs in advanced manufacturing and information technology. The money would finance capital investments in training facilities

Maryland Governor Hogan proposed more than $4 million to continue Maryland’s Employment Advance Right Now (EARN) sector partnership program. The Governor also proposed $704,000 to launch four P-TECH schools. P-TECH schools partner with employers and colleges to provide secondary to postsecondary pathways in STEM. 

Alabama Governor Bentley proposed restructuring the state workforce development system, including consolidating Regional Workforce Development Councils reporting to the Department of Commerce and aligning those regions with the community colleges. The Governor also proposed codifying and funding the state longitudinal data system that he established in 2015 by executive order. 

Rhode Island Governor Raimondo proposed $500,000 to expand the number of P-TECH schools in her state (from three to at least five), and $2 million for TechHire coding boot campus and online courses for rapid training. The Governor also proposed realigning existing workforce dollars to fund her Real Jobs Rhode Island sector partnership program.

Delaware Governor Markell proposed extending the state’s longitudinal data system into the early learning, higher education, and workforce domains. Governor Markell also proposed expanding TechHire sites in his state.

*This blog is part of series on governors proposed state plans for 2016. You can read the first blog post here.


Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Career and Technical Education, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships, Alabama, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Rhode Island

Governors propose workforce initiatives

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Governors propose workforce initiatives

Governors are unveiling their legislative proposals for 2016, including proposals to boost workforce skills. The governors of California, New York, Virginia, and Idaho are among those announcing new skill building proposals. 

California Governor Jerry Brown proposed $200 million to implement the recommendations of the California Community College Board of Governors’ Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy. The funds would enable community colleges to expand access to additional career technical education courses and programs and to implement a regional accountability structure aligned with the Task Force’s recommendations.  Community colleges would be expected to collaborate regionally with their educational, workforce, labor, and civic partners to expand access to career technical education programs that meet each region’s workforce needs. In addition, Governor Brown proposed $48 million for California’s Career and Technical Education Pathways program, and proposed repealing the Program’s sunset in order to make it permanent. The Governor also proposed $1.8 million to enhance apprenticeship training.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced proposals focused on opportunity youth.  According to the Governor’s Office, New York will face a shortage of as many as 350,000 workers for jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. “This “skills gap” is one of the greatest challenges facing New York State’s economic development goals.” To respond to this challenge Governor Cuomo proposed an additional $31 million to enable another 19,000 youth to participate in the summer youth employment program. The Governor proposed “Apprentice SUNY,” a new $5 million program for 2,000 students to receive classroom and on-the-job training through new registered apprenticeships linked to degrees or certificates. The Governor proposed creating the state Pre-Apprenticeship Program. The Program would enroll young adults 18 to 24 years of age in pre-apprenticeships that would prepare them for direct entry into registered apprenticeships on public work projects. The Governor also proposed expanding the budget of the Urban Youth Jobs Program to $50 million to serve 10,000 young people. The Program provides tax credits for employers who hire unemployed, disadvantaged youth. 

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe requested an appropriation of $24.6 million to enhance noncredit workforce programs at Virginia’s community colleges. Of that amount, $12 million is to increase the capacity of existing noncredit workforce programs for occupations with the greatest need for workers, $6 million is to increase student interest in these programs, and $6.6 million is to incentivize those programs that are most successful, using the funding to reduce course costs and allow for further increases in the system's noncredit workforce programs' capacity.

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed a budget enhancement of $3.8 million to expand postsecondary training in fields experiencing skill gaps. The initiative would build training capacity at six post‐secondary institutions to produce more graduates for high‐demand jobs in health care, information technology, mechatronics, and transportation. According to the Governor’s Office, there is an average of 2,180 annual job openings across these four occupational areas. However, capacity in the programs that train in these four areas is limited, with only 542 graduates per year, and an average wait list of 825. The additional funding would expand capacity by 410 seats for jobs that have a median hourly wage of $19.10 per hour

As more governors announce their proposals for 2016, National Skills Coalition will keep you abreast of the developments.

*This blog is part of series on governors proposed state plans for 2016. You can read the second blog post here.

Posted In: Career Pathways, Virginia, New York, Idaho, California

New initiative to tackle the youth unemployment crisis

  ·   By Sarah Oldmixon,
New initiative to tackle the youth unemployment crisis

Earlier today, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced the New Skills for Youth initiative, a $75 million program designed to address the youth employment crisis and to increase the number of young people who complete career pathways that begin in high school and end with credentials aligned with good-paying, high-demand jobs.

NSC Board Member Brenda Dann-Messier is on the New Skills for Youth Global Advisory Committee while NSC’s Chief Executive Officer, Andy Van Kleunen, will serve on the Career Readiness Advisory Committee.

Under the new initiative, JPMorgan Chase is partnering with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium to offer $35 million in grant funding to help leading states turn their visions for improving career readiness education into a reality. During Phase I (Spring 2016), approximately 20-25 states will receive grants of $100,000 for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of area employers. In Phase II (Fall 2016), approximately 10 states will receive grants of $1.5 million to $2 million over three years to implement and assess their demand-driven career and technical education programs.  The deadline to apply for the first phase of grants is 5 p.m. ET on March 2, 2016.

JPMorgan Chase has been a long-time partner of National Skills Coalition and their work mirrors our commitment to pushing for changes in the way states and localities think about their labor markets, expanding the range of people who can be trained to fill open middle-skilled jobs in regional economies, and realizing better alignment of workforce and education policies. They are a supporter of several of key NSC initiatives, including the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) as well as Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU).

NSC is excited to further build upon our partnership under the New Skills for Youth initiative. Visit the JPMorgan Chase website to learn more about the New Skills for Youth initiative and read a special column by JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon and University of Maryland-Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski, then click here to learn more about how to apply from the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Career Pathways

New progress report from the White House Task Force on New Americans

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New progress report from the White House Task Force on New Americans

The White House Task Force on New Americans recently released a report summarizing its achievements during the last year, including progress on implementing the 48 recommendations outlined in its April 2015 Strategic Action Plan.

(The Task Force was launched in November 2014 as part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. NSC submitted recommendations to the Task Force in early 2015.)

Skills are an important focus of the Task Force’s work. The report notes several developments in the workforce landscape over the last year, including the release of the Department of Labor’s Career Pathways Toolkit, a reference guide for local communities seeking to implement such pathways. The report also notes DOL’s creation of an online resource, the Innovation and Opportunity Network, to assist with ongoing implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Local Communities

The Task Force report also noted innovative efforts to promote immigrant integration in local communities, including:

  • The Michigan Office for New Americans, which has worked with Global Detroit and the national nonprofit Upwardly Global to advance and promote several initiatives. Among them is the Michigan International Talent Solutions program, which will help skilled immigrants who are new to Michigan return to their professional careers by connecting them to employers who are hiring, particularly in STEM fields.

  • Seattle’s Ready to Work Program, which combines English language classes with computer literacy instruction and case management to help immigrants gain job readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency. The program is a combined initiative of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle City Council, and three City agencies — the Human Services Department, Office of Economic Development, and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Upcoming Developments

Looking ahead, the Task Force noted several upcoming events and initiatives:

  • In 2016, the Task Force will bring together governments and associations that significantly influence immigrant labor market success for a Credentialing Academy. The convening will address issues facing immigrants who earned credentials abroad, including how US state and local policies can help or hinder credential attainment and recognition, and best practices in facilitating immigrant re-credentialing.
  • The Department of Education (ED) will launch a $2.4 million technical assistance investment using National Leadership Activities funds from Title II of the Workforce Investment Act. This investment will be used to assist state and local adult educators in scaling place-based network models of immigrant integration.

    In particular, local organizations that receive Title II Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) formula funds will be provided assistance in how to best achieve the IELCE program’s purpose as well as fulfill its requirements by adopting a collective impact, network-based approach to providing immigrant integration services. Additionally, ED will be issuing further guidance in the next year on new statutory requirements that apply to the IELCE program under WIOA.
  • The Walmart Foundation is investing in efforts to increase English-language skills among retail workers through a new project, Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, a coalition between the National Immigration Forum, Miami Dade College, and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education.


Posted In: Immigration, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Career Pathways
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