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Better Together: How adult ed/CTE collaborations benefit workers and businesses

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
Better Together: How adult ed/CTE collaborations benefit workers and businesses

Advocates can create new upskilling opportunities, meet local business needs, and streamline training costs by launching partnerships between adult education organizations and Career and Technical Education (CTE) providers. That’s the message of National Skills Coalition’s new policy brief, Better Together.

The brief highlights an example from the border city of El Paso, Texas. Local leaders at the Socorro Independent School District (ISD) have capitalized on opportunities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to improve alignment between the adult education and CTE systems. Their work has been supported by officials from the Texas Workforce Commission’s Adult Education and Literacy program (AEL). 

On the ground in Texas: What one adult ed/CTE partnership looks like

The story begins in 2015, when Socorro ISD adult education leadership reached out to their peers in the district’s CTE program with an idea. Could the district’s adult education program use its own funds to pay high school CTE teachers to instruct adult learners in the evenings?

The idea was a hit. Soon, the providers had developed a plan for offering Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs in four high-demand careers. The CTE partners would provide technical instruction, classroom space, and oversee the use of laboratories and equipment. The adult education partners would fund instructional costs, pay for materials and textbooks, and ensure that the foundational-skills component of coursework was well integrated with the occupational training. From the state level, broad, flexible policy guidance from AEL gave the Socorro partners freedom and confidence in pursuing their collaboration.

Today, the program regularly exceeds its state targets for IET enrollment. In the most recent year, Socorro served 184 adult learners – more than double their target of 76 individuals. Participants can pursue training in security services; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); computer repair and maintenance; or a pre-apprenticeship electrician program.

Creative partnerships can seed IET innovation

IET is a proven model allows adults with reading, math, or English language skill gaps to build their foundational skills while simultaneously training for a specific occupation or industry. The model was first developed in Washington State, where it is known as I-BEST, and was formalized as a federal requirement in the 2014 WIOA legislation.

As the Socorro example shows, local communities can think creatively about how to implement IET programs. Looking beyond the WIOA-funded adult education provider world to collaborate with CTE partners can enable programs to offer training in occupations that require laboratory equipment or other resources that would be too expensive to purchase on their own. Similarly, partnering with CTE can make it easier to identify and contract with instructors who have industry experience and strong employer relationships.

In Texas, state leaders and other advocates have supported the development and implementation of IET models through the Accelerate Texas initiative, which pre-dated the federal WIOA legislation. Texas officials have also provided local adult education programs such as Socorro with opportunities to receive peer technical assistance and mentoring on topics such as IET and career pathways.

State and federal policies can facilitate strong partnerships

Skills advocates who are interested in replicating the Socorro example in their own states and localities can advocate for policies that will support such partnerships. For example:

  • Provide state policy guidance and technical assistance to spark ideas while allowing flexibility for local innovation. Guidance can detail a list of ways (beyond WIOA) that adult education partners can pay for IET; provide a roadmap for how adult ed providers can establish a Memorandum of Understanding with their local high school or postsecondary CTE program partners; explain how adult ed/CTE collaboration can ensure that IET programs are truly responsive to local business needs, and more.
  • Capitalize on federal policy mandates under WIOA and the Perkins Act to bring partners together to develop a shared strategic vision. States will be required to submit their WIOA and Perkins plans on a similar timeline in Spring 2020, making it easy for state officials to align planning processes and conversations.
  • Explore opportunities for how TANF and SNAP E&T can support upskilling. These key safety net programs are important tools for serving adults with foundational skills gaps. States can consider using some of these funds – as Texas does with TANF -- to support IET programs or similar efforts that will help adults transition off of public benefits.


Check out the full Better Together brief to learn more. Don’t forget about NSC’s prior publications, the IET 50-state Scan and State Policy Toolkit, for examples of state policies that go above and beyond WIOA requirements, and model language for drafting a policy in your state.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Career and Technical Education, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Texas
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

WIOA State Plans at Your Fingertips

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
WIOA State Plans at Your Fingertips

Just in time for your holiday reading pleasure, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have provided an online portal to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity plans from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the territories.  You may find the plans here.  The site not only provides access to each state plan, it also links to a search tool that enables you to search the content of the plans. 

The tool offers three options for searching the plans: 1) you can search all the plans for the word or words that you want; 2) you can limit your search to a state or certain states; and 3) you can search particular portions of the plans.  For example, you may want to see what state plans say about “sector partnerships;” you may want to search only the states in your region of the county; and you may only want to read what these states say about sector partnerships in the  strategic vision and goals section of their plan.  The permutations are nearly countless. 

So, have at it and find out all the details you want about what’s in the WIOA state plans.

Posted In: Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation

An innovative pipeline to electronics-assembly jobs

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock ,
An innovative pipeline to electronics-assembly jobs

As implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act moves forward, many localities are seeking to identify program models that respond to employer demand while effectively serving jobseekers who have barriers to employment. One Seattle program has a nearly two-decade track record of success in doing just that.

The nonprofit Refugee Federation Service Center provides immigrant and refugee jobseekers with training in Electronics Assembly. The three-month, 150-hour course provides jobseekers with customized, employer-informed training in the skills they need to find employment in Seattle’s robust manufacturing industry.

Graduates of the program go on to work for employers such as Boeing and CarlisleIT, earning $12 to $15 per hour – an impressive outcome given that many arrive at the Refugee Federation with limited English proficiency, and little or no American job experience.  Staff member Mengstab Tzegai explains: “We do an intake to assess their level of education, their English level, their mathematics ability. Based on the intake, we know whether our program can serve them.”

Focus on Jobseekers with Barriers

The demographics of Electronics Assembly training participants vary, but most are newly arrived refugees or asylees (that is, immigrants who have been granted asylum in the US) with low incomes, limited English proficiency, few transferrable skills, and little American work experience. A minority of participants have high levels of education from abroad (such as former engineers), but most have much more limited formal education. In addition to the variety of educational backgrounds represented among participants, the program serves a diverse mixture of men and women from countries throughout Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and East Africa.

Classes meet for three hours a day, four days a week. Each quarter, the Refugee Federation servces two cohorts of approximately 40 students each, with one class meeting in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.

Participants in both cohorts have the option of also participating in an hour-long lunchtime English class.  This Vocational English for Speakers of Other Language (VESL) class focuses on industry-specific vocabulary as well as the communications skills that participants will need to successfully obtain and maintain employment in the field.

“We created this program because we want to promote long-term self-sufficiency and self-reliance for refugees and immigrants, not place them in dead-end positions,” explains Tzegai.

Employer-Driven Training

Employers have been involved in the program since its inception, says Tzegai, helping to inform the curriculum and providing feedback and guidance on program design.

The feedback helps ensure that classes are providing the exact skills that participants will need on the job. “We are teaching people how to assemble motherboards...how to solder the components that are put on the motherboards,” says Tzegai, emphasizing the practical nature of the coursework.

The program is careful to hire instructors with content-area expertise. “One of our teachers is an engineer who graduated from the University of Washington, who is also a former refugee himself,” explains Tzegai. “Our lab teacher is a woman who has been working with companies in this industry for a long time. And our blueprint teacher worked in assembly for many years.”

An Intentional Path Toward Employment

Each element of the program is designed to lead toward employment, says Tzegai. In addition to the content-area instruction and lunchtime ESL classes, the program provides extensive coaching in job-search skills.

“Before they graduate [from the program] we prepare their resume, teach them how to dress for an interview, what to expect in the job interview,” says Tzegai. “We talk about how they are supposed to work with an employer. And after their training, we send their resumes to the companies, and we schedule their interviews.”

The intensive effort works. Tzegai says more than 90 percent of program graduates find employment within three months. Some start as temporary employees through Kelly Services, a well-known temp agency, making $12 or $13 per hour. Others move directly into permanent employment with major companies, earning $14 or $15 per hour.

Paying For It All: Braided Funding 

Funding for the program is provided from a variety of sources, including private foundation support, state refugee funds, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, and the Washington State Basic Food and Employment Training program. (The latter program is Washington’s iteration of the federal SNAP Employment & Training program. Learn more about SNAP E&T funding.) In addition, some participants self-pay the class’s $450 materials fee.

But beyond the mechanisms of program funding, Tzegai says, is the question of commitment. “You have to have the willingness to do programs like this. The Refugee Federation was created by small mutual aid associations. All of the executive directors of these agencies are refugees themselves. They care...you have to take it upon yourself to make it work.”

Tzegai’s message is likely to resonate as states move forward with implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which encourages greater adoption of demand-driven job training program models. Meanwhile, the Refugee Federation is gearing up for the next round of Electronics Assembly training -- now nearing its 20th year of operation. 


*Photo courtesy of Refugee Federation Service Center 

Posted In: Immigration, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation

Skills on the agenda at National Immigrant Integration Conference

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock ,
Skills on the agenda at National Immigrant Integration Conference

Last month’s National Immigrant Integration Conference in Brooklyn, NY, brought together more than 1,300 advocates from across the United States. Hosted by the New York Immigration Coalition and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), the gathering featured three days of high-profile plenary sessions, hands-on workshops and in-depth panel discussions on a wide range of topics.

National Skills Coalition’s Amanda Bergson-Shilcock served as co-chair for the conference’s Adult Education and Workforce Development track, in conjunction with Margie McHugh of the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy.

Each of the track’s three sessions tackled a distinct aspect of the multifaced adult education and workforce arena: 

  • Putting WIOA to Work for Immigrants and Refugees, moderated by Margie, examined the newly reauthorized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which provides more than $3 billion in federal funding for workforce and adult education services. Panelists explored changes in the new WIOA legislation compared to the prior Workforce Investment Act, and the implications for immigrants.

  • Employer Engagement, moderated by Amanda, drew on the diverse experiences of practitioners from Jewish Vocational Service of Boston, the International Institute of Buffalo, and Upwardly Global. Each panelist described how their organization has built long-term relationships with employers that have led to job training contracts and/or employment opportunities for immigrant participants. Policy perspective for this panel was provided by the National Immigration Forum.

  • Educational & Workforce Success for DACA Youth: Making the Most of DACA’s Promise was moderated by Audrey Singer of the Brookings Institution. Audrey provided concrete data on the population of young immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and speakers from Florida, New York, and Washington state described program models that are successfully serving these young people.

Both Amanda and Margie also participated in a plenary session focusing on the New American Dreams policy platform released by NPNA at the conference. The platform was developed to help inform public discussion on immigration issues during 2016 and beyond.  Watch a video of the plenary, or read the succinct policy platform

Conference organizers had invited every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate to address the attendees. Three accepted the invitation. Their remarks are included among the conference videos.

Finally, Amanda moderated a special session on Fixing Brain Waste, hosted by Partnership for a New American Economy and IMPRINT/WES. Researchers from the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University and the Migration Policy Institute presented data from two new studies on under-employed immigrant professionals. Practitioners from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the St. Louis Mosaic Project served as respondents, sharing examples of how the results of this new research are informing work on the ground.

The next National Immigrant Integration Conference will be held in Nashville, TN. Details will be announced on the conference website in the coming months.

Posted In: Immigration, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, New York

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

California takes its WIOA state plan on the road

  ·   By Bryan Wilson and Brooke DeRenzis,
California takes its WIOA state plan on the road

This week wraps up California’s “Roadshow for Public Input” on its WIOA state plan. Under WIOA, states must develop plans that describe their overall workforce strategy and how it will be implemented. With plans due to the federal government by March 3, 2016, many states are in the process of soliciting public input. In addition to posting a draft of its plan for public comment, the California Workforce Development Board held six events across the state to get feedback.

The state’s workforce board hosted this series of regional events in partnership with the California Workforce Association and local workforce boards during the month of December. Local workforce development boards invited board members, partners in their local workforce systems, and representatives from business and labor. Following presentations on the state plan’s vision, goals, and strategies, stakeholders participated in small group discussions.

California’s draft state plan places a heavy emphasis on regional planning and implementation.  The Roadshow provided an opportunity for input on how California (via the State Plan) can better facilitate regional leadership, alignment with industry, and system integration, and set the stage for regional planning.

California’s draft plan was developed with input from a WIOA Implementation Work Group. Created by the State Board shortly after the passage of WIOA, the work group is charged with helping to develop the framework for the state plan.  The work group is chaired by Van Ton Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development for California’s Community Colleges, and includes 15 members representing state agencies, business, local boards, and community-based organizations.    

Want to provide feedback on your state’s WIOA plan? Our recent case study of Chicago Jobs Council’s WIOA engagement activities provides a list of actions that stakeholders can take to impact their state’s plan. NSC’s other WIOA resources provide recommendations for creating effective state plans and for aligning WIOA with key human capital investments like Career and Technical Education, TANF, and SNAP Employment and Training.     

Posted In: Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, California

Tis the season to review state plans

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Tis the season to review state plans

In many states, this is not only the season to celebrate the holidays, but also the season to review a draft Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan. A number of states have officially released their draft plan for public comment. Other states will release their draft plan later this month or in January. Final state plans must be submitted to the feds by March 3, 2016. 

California has announced an extensive process to allow stakeholders to review and comment on their draft plan, the WIOA State Plan: Roadshow for Public Input. The Roadshow will include five events around the state between December 4 and December 18. In November, Washington State’s Workforce Board approved a draft version of the state's strategic plan that was preceded by eight public forums around the state to gather input. The draft Washington strategic plan is available for public comment here. The initial draft of Indiana’s Unified State Plan is available for comment until December 23.  In other states, interested parties should check out their state’s workforce development board website to find out when their draft state plan will be available for review. 

The window of opportunity may be short. Workforce development officials, practitioners, and other stakeholders should make certain they take advantage of the opportunity to review and comment on their state’s draft plan before it becomes final.

NSC suggests reviewing the draft plan against the recommendations in Realizing Innovation and Opportunity in WIOA: A Playbook for Creating Effective State Plans. In the Playbook, NSC explains how states can incorporate key strategies into their WIOA plan. Bly including language consistent with the Playbook’s recommendations on sector partnerships, career pathways, cross-agency data and measurement, and job-driven investments, states can use their WIOA plan to establish strategies that close the skill gap and help workers and businesses succeed.  

Posted In: Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, California
NSC partners host lawmakers at workforce development, training, and education facilities

Over the summer, while Congress was out of session, many NSC partners hosted site visits with their U.S. Senators and Representatives or State Legislators. Site visits are an opportunity for elected officials to visit workforce development, education, or training facilities and see programs in action. It is an excellent way to educate lawmakers and their staff and show them the importance of workforce development funding. Many of these site visits were follow-ups to the advocacy visits that NSC partners made during the 2015 Skills Summit last February.

Ohio: Towards Employment

Senator Sherrod Brown's Special Assistant Matthew Keyes visited Towards Employment in Cleveland OH. Towards Employment’s mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment.  The group offers job-readiness training. Participants learn job search skills as well as the soft skills needed to succeed on the job. They also have access to legal services and vocational training. During their meeting they were able to showcase their programs and discuss workforce development policy.   

Virginia: Dan River Region Collaborative 

Senator Tim Kaine and his team met with members of the Dan River Region Collaborative and ABB employees to tour the facility and discuss economic development issues and career and technical training.  ABB is a global company which operates and manufactures power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impacts. As co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, Senator Kaine recently introduced the JOBS Act to expand federal Pell Grants to students who enroll in short-term job training programs. The bill would help workers afford high-quality training in advanced manufacturing and other industries. (Click here to support this bill). The Dan River Region Collaborative was founded to address workforce development in the Dan River Region of Virginia. Utilizing a sector strategy approach, the Collaborative promotes regional partnerships of employers, educators, workforce developers and other stakeholders to address the skills needs of regional employers. Within the industry partnerships, the Collaborative’s efforts focus on capacity building, systems change and policy advocacy.

Pennsylvania: District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund 

Susan Thomas, Director of Industry Partnerships (IP) at District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund met with Pennsylvania State Representative Cherelle Parker and Pennsylvania State Senator Dominic Pileggi.  They spoke about the fund’s work on IPs and the need to add money to the IP budget at the state level. They also discussed the importance of pushing a sector skills policy agenda as well as making Pell grants available for occupational post-secondary programs. The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund's mission is: (1) providing access to career pathways in healthcare and human services for incumbent workers and job seekers through education, training and work-based learning; and, (2) building the capacity of the Delaware Valley's healthcare industry to create a highly-skilled workforce through on-the-job training opportunities and the development of an education pipeline that aligns with career ladder steps. 

Iowa: Central Iowa works 

Representative David Young toured the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families in Des Moines, Iowa.  During his visit, he met with students enrolled in the Transportation/Distribution/Logistics program, which is funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and Jobs for the Future. The site visit was a community event which brought out a multitude of stakeholders:

  • Rob Denson, President of Des Moines Area Community College
  • Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa
  • Sarah Ramsey, Advocacy Officer, United Way of Central Iowa
  • Angie Arthur, Central Iowa Workforce Investment Board
  • Marvin DeJear, Director, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families
  • Pat Steele, Central Iowa Works

After the tour, Young participated in a discussion with all those in attendance regarding workforce issues.  Topics discussed included employment challenges for people with a criminal history, the utilization of Pell grants, youth unemployment, and the Direct Care Workforce. 

Colorado: Skills2Compete Colorado coalition 

The Skills2Compete Colorado coalition met with Senator Michael Bennet’s State Policy Director, Becca Montgomery. In attendance were representatives from VocRehab and SNAP E&T providers, the Regional Representative from the Dept. of Labor, Colorado Center on Law and Policy and local CBOs: Mi Casa and CWEE (host). TANF and WIOA were the major topics of discussion for this diverse group of stakeholders.  The Skills2Compete-Colorado Coalition is a multi-sector coalition that includes representatives from adult education, post-secondary education, workforce development, business, and the advocacy arena

Let’s keep the momentum from this "summer of engagement" going! NSC facilitates regular calls with partners in the field and the staff of their members of Congress; if this is something in which you’d be interested, feel free to reach out to Ashley Shaw, Field Coordinator.


Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia
National Skills Coalition hosts annual state workforce advocates meeting

On September 24-25, workforce advocates from 12 states gathered in Columbus, Ohio for an annual meeting hosted by National Skills Coalition. There was also representation from two national partners, the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  During the two-day meeting, participants discussed policy solutions they could use to address a variety of issues facing workers and employers back in their states, such as state policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways, and state investments in training for good jobs. They also discussed opportunities to advocate for these policies by participating in WIOA planning and implementation and working with state officials and agency leaders. 

Through the meeting’s cross-state sharing sessions, interactive panels, and facilitated dialogues, participants were able to get advice and swap stories from the trenches with their peers. 

During panel discussions, Steve Hertzenberg of the Keystone Research Center in PA and Jessica Fraser of the Indiana Institute for Working Families shared lessons learned from advocating for sector partnership policies in their states. 21 states currently have policies to support local sector partnerships, and as such, are positioned to help local communities meet the needs of both workers and employers in key industries, according to NSC’s recent report, Skills in the States: Sector Partnership Policy, a first-ever 50-state scan. NSC will be releasing a toolkit to guide states that are looking to build local sector partnership policies or strengthen already existing ones.

Frank Waterous of the Bell Policy Center in Colorado and Alysia Ordway of Strategy Matters in Massachusetts discussed opportunities to advance career pathways. Group discussions that followed these panels underscored sustainable funding, coordination across education and training agencies, and good data systems as critical elements of policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways.

Meeting participants also discussed ways to use WIOA state planning and implementation to promote skills strategies and access to training for individuals with barriers to work. They discussed opportunities to align programs such as adult education, occupational training, and TANF and SNAP employment and training services under WIOA. They also highlighted the need to improve training participants’ access to support services like child care and financial counseling.  Advocates identified opportunities to weigh in during their state’s planning and implementation process including:

  • Participating in public planning sessions and state workforce board meetings
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on draft state plans, policies, and technical guidance
  • Asking state workforce boards to report on implementation of state plans

A special thanks to the United Way of Central Ohio and all of our partners in attendance for making this meeting possible! NSC looks forward to continuing our work with state coalitions and providing support for advancing their policy agendas in the year ahead.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP Employment and Training, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships
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