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Twelve community and technical college systems band together to call on Congress to adopt a job-driven Community College Compact for today’s students

Today, education leaders from twelve community and technical college systems across the country—including those in Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington—sent letters to federal policymakers, urging them to make higher education policy more responsive to the needs of today’s students.

The letters, which were sent to Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee leadership, call for the adoption of a job-driven Community College Compact; a set of postsecondary policy proposals developed by National Skills Coalition (NSC) and vetted by a range of stakeholders, including academic institutions, employers, community-based organizations and workforce development boards. If adopted by Congress, these policies would increase access to high-quality education and training programs, crucial support services and transparent information regarding postsecondary programs for students of all ages and backgrounds. Likely 2020 voters and business leaders also strongly support the Compact policies, as demonstrated by recent polling conducted by ALG Research on behalf of NSC.

Community and technical college leaders are voicing their shared support for the Community College Compact in light of the impending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA, which is the most comprehensive federal law governing postsecondary institutions and programs, has been eligible for reauthorization by Congress since 2008. Senate HELP Committee Chairman, Lamar Alexander, and Ranking Member, Patty Murray, as well as House Education and Labor Committee Chairman, Bobby Scott, and Ranking Member, Virginia Foxx, have expressed interest in reauthorizing this sweeping legislation before the end of this Congress. Additionally, the White House has named the modernization of the Higher Education Act as one of its top priorities.

The letters urge federal policymakers to consider the following policy changes:

Eliminate the bias against working learners in need of federal financial aid

In today’s economy, approximately 80 percent of all jobs require some form of education or training, and more than 50 percent of jobs can be classified as “middle-skill”—meaning they call for more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree. As a result, community and technical colleges are working to increase access to high quality, short-term programs that lead to in-demand credentials. However, most federal financial aid available today is reserved for students who are enrolled in programs of study that are at least 600 clock hours over 15 weeks—an outdated policy that fails to account for the training needs of individuals in our 21st century economy.

Therefore, community and technical college leaders are urging lawmakers to consider legislation—such as the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 839; H.R. 3497 ) led by Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH) and Representatives Richmond (D-LA-02), Levin (D-MI-09), Horsford (D-NV-04), Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03) and Katko (R-NY-24)—that would expand Pell grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality education and training programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over 8 weeks.

Make higher education and workforce outcomes data comprehensive and transparent

Since higher education is becoming more closely linked with finding success in the labor market, data about the outcomes of postsecondary programs should be available to students, parents, employers and policymakers. However, as community and technical college leaders note in their letters, existing legal restrictions on the collection of student-level data continue to hinder the accessibility of this important information.

To help provide consumers with better data and relieve institutions of duplicative reporting requirements, community and technical college administrators called for action on the College Transparency Act (S.800; H.R. 1766). Introduced by Senators Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Scott (R-SC) and Representatives Mitchell (R-MI-10), Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Harder (D-CA-10), this bipartisan bill aims to establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student level data network administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), to which colleges would be able to safely and easily report their data. The data would then be available as a decision-making tool for current and prospective students—making it easier for individuals to improve their lives through education and training.

Ensure the success of today’s college students by strengthening support services

Due to the diversity of the student populations they serve, community and technical college leaders recognize the growing importance of support services such as career counseling, childcare and transportation assistance. While states and higher education administrators across the country are working hard to implement career pathway models that provide nontraditional students with the services they need to succeed in the postsecondary education system, their efforts receive little support at the federal level.

To address this issue, community and technical college leaders are calling for the consideration of the Gateway to Careers Act (S. 1117)—legislation introduced by Senators Hassan (D-NH), Young (R-IN), Kaine (D-VA) and Gardner (R-CO). This bipartisan bill would make federal funding available on a competitive basis to institutions that are working in partnership to serve students experiencing barriers to postsecondary access and completion.

Provide targeted funding for valuable partnerships between community colleges and businesses

Community and technical college leaders work with industry stakeholders every day to provide high-quality training and academic instruction to future workers through sector partnerships. However, Congress has not invested in these partnerships at a scale that would sustain economic competitiveness since the expiration of the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program in FY 2014. The purpose of the TAAACT grant program, which allocated $2 billion in funding to states from FY 2011-2014, was to increase the capacity of community colleges to address the challenges of today’s workforce through job training for adults and other nontraditional students.

Due to the proven impact of community college-business partnerships, community and technical college leaders are calling for the consideration of legislation that would expand and support these collaboratives, an example of which is the Community College to Career Fund in Higher Education Act (S. 1612; H.R. 2920). Introduced by Senators Duckworth (D-IL), Smith (D-MN), Feinstein (D-CA), Durbin (D-IL), Shaheen (D-NH), Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Kelly (D-IL-02), this legislation aims to provide academic institutions and businesses with competitive grant funding so that they can continue to work together to deliver valuable educational or career training programs to students and workers.

Read the letter to the Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee, as well as letters of support from Arkansas and Washington.

Posted In: Transportation, Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Washington
Community college leaders from 10 states endorse fundamentals of NSC’s Community College Compact in letters to Senate HELP Committee

On July 16, 2018, leaders of 10 community college systems across the country—including those in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia—sent letters to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, urging them to modernize federal higher education policy to better reflect the needs of today’s community college students. The letters emphasize the importance of adopting a job-driven Community College Compact—a set of policy proposals developed by National Skills Coalition with the input of a range of stakeholders; including academic institutions, employers, community-based organization and workforce development boards.

In today’s economy, 80 percent of all jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training—a reality that has led to an influx of individuals enrolling in the higher education system with a different set of objectives than first-time, full-time students. Community colleges serve approximately 9 million students every year of all ages and backgrounds; most of whom can be classified as non-traditional. These individuals often work full or part time, are parents to dependent children, and/or fall in the age range of 28-40.

Given the significant role they play in preparing students for the workforce, community college leaders took the opportunity to outline their shared priorities and urge federal lawmakers to:

Eliminate the bias against working learners in need of federal financial aid

As our economy continues to change, more skilled workers are needed today than ever before. Approximately 80 percent of all jobs require some form of education or training, and more than 50 percent of jobs can be classified as “middle-skill”—meaning they call for more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree. As a result, many community colleges are aiming to increase access to high quality, short-term programs that lead to in-demand credentials. However, most federal financial aid available today is reserved for students who are enrolled in programs of study that are at least 600 clock hours over 15 weeks—an outdated policy that fails to account for the training needs of individuals in our 21st century economy.

Therefore, community college leaders urged lawmakers to consider legislation—such as the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 206) led by Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH)—that would expand Pell grant eligibility to students enrolled in employer-approved programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over 8 weeks.

Make higher education and workforce outcomes data comprehensive and transparent

Since higher education is becoming more closely linked with finding success in the labor market, data about the outcomes of postsecondary programs should be available to students, parents, employers and policymakers. However, as community college leaders noted in their letters, existing legal restrictions on the collection of student-level data continue to hinder the accessibility of this important information.

To help provide consumers with better data and relieve institutions of duplicative reporting requirements, community college administrators called for action on the College Transparency Act (S. 1121, H.R. 2434). Introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Mitchell (R-MI) and Polis (D-CO), this bipartisan bill aims to establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student level data network administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), to which colleges would be able to safely and easily report their data. The data would then be available as a decision-making tool for current and prospective students—making it easier for individuals to improve their lives through education and training.

Ensure the success of today’s college students by strengthening support services

Due to the diversity of the student populations they serve, community college leaders recognize the growing importance of support services such as career counseling, childcare and transportation assistance. While states and higher education administrators across the country are working hard to implement career pathway models that provide nontraditional students with the services they need to succeed in the postsecondary education system, their efforts receive little support at the federal level.

To address this issue, community college leaders called for the consideration of the Gateway to Careers Act (S. 2407)—legislation introduced by Senator Hassan (D-NH), along with Senators Kaine (D-VA), Shaheen (D-NH) and Reed (D-RI). This bill would make federal funding available on a competitive basis to institutions that are working in partnership to serve students experiencing barriers to postsecondary access and completion.

Provide targeted funding for valuable partnerships between community colleges and businesses

Community college leaders work with industry stakeholders every day to provide high-quality training and academic instruction to future workers through sector partnerships. However, Congress has not invested in these partnerships partnerships at a scale that would sustain economic competitiveness since the expiration of the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program in FY 2014. The purpose of the TAAACT grant program, which allocated $2 billion in funding to states from FY 2011-2014, was to increase the capacity of community colleges to address the challenges of today’s workforce through job training for adults and other nontraditional students.

Due to the proven impact of community college-business partnerships, community college leaders called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would increase the resources available for these collaboration models —such as the Community College to Career Fund Act (S. 2390). Introduced by Senators Duckworth (D-IL), Smith (D-MN), Kaine (D-VA) and Feinstein (D-CA), this bill would authorize competitive grant funding, allowing academic institutions and businesses to work together to deliver valuable educational or career training programs to students and workers.

The voices of these and other community college leaders across the country are undeniably important, as Congress looks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act for the first time since 2008. While the House and Senate have not passed Higher Education Act legislation this Congress, action is expected early next year. To view the letter, click here.

Posted In: Higher Education Access, Sector Partnerships, Adult Basic Education, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia

NSC Calls for Postsecondary “Career Pathways Support Fund” in New Paper

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
NSC Calls for Postsecondary “Career Pathways Support Fund” in New Paper

In an economy where more than 80 percent of all jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training, expanding access to high quality workforce programs at community and technical colleges is increasingly critical to our nation’s economic competitiveness. However, our current federal higher education policy doesn’t do enough to support the needs of working adults and other non-traditional students who need postsecondary skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs. In a new issue brief released today, National Skills Coalition proposes a new $500 million Career Pathways Support Fund that would allow community and technical colleges to provide critical academic, counseling and support services that help low-income and other non-traditional students succeed in job-driven education programs.

Today’s college students are increasingly diverse: more than 70 percent of all undergraduates are classified as “non-traditional,” and roughly 40 percent of college students are over the age of 25. Many of these students are balancing school attendance with work and family obligations: at community colleges, 22 percent of full-time students and 41 percent of part-time students are also working full-time, and 30 percent of community colleges are parents. These changing demographics mean that we need to be rethinking the kinds of supports that postsecondary institutions offer to better align with the realities of working adults, including strategies to accelerate time to completion, career counseling, and wraparound services like child care and transportation assistance to help students.

Our new issue brief highlights examples of three states that are tackling these issues head-on, including the Career Pathways Initiative in Arkansas, the Pathways for Academic Career and Employment (PACE) program in Iowa, and the Basic Skills Plus program in North Carolina. The paper also provides an overview of current federal efforts to support parents and other adult students, which have not kept up with the growing demands of today’s college enrollees.

With Congress looking to begin discussions around reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this fall, NSC calls for lawmakers to consider creating a new dedicated fund that supports community and technical colleges who are providing career pathways programs aimed at working adults and other non-traditional students. This new Career Pathways Support Fund – which is part of NSC’s broader Community College Compact proposal outlined in our Skills for Good Jobs Agenda - would encourage qualifying institutions to partner with employers, adult and secondary education providers, and other stakeholders to ensure that participants are able to obtain industry-recognized credentials while also receiving necessary support services. We also urge Congress to pair the new Career Pathways Support Fund with increased investments in financial aid for working students, consistent with the bipartisan JOBS Act, and strengthen support for partnerships between community colleges and local and regional industries. 

Posted In: Higher Education Access, Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina

New Texas and Arkansas Fact Sheets: Immigrants Can Help Meet Demand for Middle-Skill Workers

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New Texas and Arkansas Fact Sheets: Immigrants Can Help Meet Demand for Middle-Skill Workers

Two new fact sheets from National Skills Coalition highlight the important role that immigrant workers play in filling middle-skill jobs in Texas and Arkansas.

While immigration settlement patterns differ substantially between the two states, in both cases, immigrant workers will be vital to helping the states meet their ambitious goals for postsecondary credential attainment and respond to local industries’ talent needs.

To accomplish these goals, states will need to ensure that their talent-development pipelines are inclusive of the many immigrants who are poised to benefit from investments in their skills: More than half of adult immigrants in Arkansas (62 percent) and Texas (63 percent) have not gone beyond high school in their education.

Arkansas: A Quickly Growing Immigrant Population Meets Aging Workforce

Arkansas is one of the nation’s fastest-growing immigrant destinations. The state has seen its foreign-born population quintuple in recent years, rising from just 1 percent of the population in 1990 to 5 percent today.

Immigrants in Arkansas are much more likely to be of working age: Fully 83 percent are between the ages of 18-64, compared to just 59 percent of native-born Arkansas residents. The relatively high number of elders in the native-born population also contributes to another notable difference: 68 percent of adult immigrants in Arkansas are in the labor force, compared to 57% of native-born Arkansas adults.

The state has recently established a significant goal for middle-skill credential attainment: By 2025, Arkansas seeks to increase the percentage of state residents with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent. Immigrants are certain to be an important component of the state’s future workforce pipeline.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Arkansas’ Untapped Assets

Texas: A Big Population Meets an Ambitious Postsecondary Goal

As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas – and that is certainly true for immigration.  Texas has long been a magnet for newcomers from abroad, having been one of the “Big Six” destination states (along with California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York) for decades.

Today, Texas is home to more than 4.7 million immigrants, who comprise 1 in 6 state residents. The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board has recently established an aggressive goal for postsecondary attainment. By 2030, the state aims to equip at least 60 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds with a certificate or degree.

In order to reach that goal, Texas will need to invest in skill-building for native-born and immigrant workers alike.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Texas’ Untapped Assets

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Immigration, Arkansas, Texas

National Skills Coalition hosts first Southern States Convening on Skills Policies

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
National Skills Coalition hosts first Southern States Convening on Skills Policies

On May 8, nearly 40 state and national workforce leaders gathered in Atlanta, GA to take part in National Skills Coalition’s southern states convening on skills policies. The event, co-hosted with Atlanta CareerRise, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and Metro Atlanta Chamber, provided a forum for cross-state sharing on skills policies and practical strategies for moving them forward in southern states. The convening was made possible through the generous financial support of JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

While the South is a large region of the country with a growing population, many of our southern state partners have expressed concerns that too many people are left out of economic opportunity, in part because not everyone has the chance to get the education and training required to find a family-supporting job in today’s economy. This doesn’t just hurt workers and their families; it also hurts businesses that depend on a skilled workforce to grow.

That’s why we teamed up with our Georgia partners to host a day’s worth of cross-state discussions on advancing skills policies in southern states where partners are addressing similar regional issues. Partners from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee participated. Together, participants represented policy and research organizations, community colleges, funder collaboratives, business associations, and workforce practitioners, as well as national organizations and foundations working in the South.  

In addition to discussing common issues across the region, the convening featured existing examples of skills policies from southern states. Collin Callaway, Arkansas Community Colleges and Kenneth Wheatley, Mississippi Community College Board discussed their states’ policies that support career pathways at community colleges – the Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative and Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST). Brad Neese, Apprenticeship Carolina described how the program uses registered apprenticeship to help align the state’s workforce development and economic development strategies. And Laura Ward, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, discussed Tennessee Reconnect and why helping adults earn postsecondary credentials matters for businesses.

Participants also used small group discussions to continue to share across states on topics such as apprenticeship and work-based learning, sector partnerships and skills policies for states with rural communities, pathways to credentials for less-skilled workers, and skills policies as part of economic development strategies. Peer advisors from southern states led each of the small group discussions.   

At the end of the convening, National Skills Coalition committed to working with participants to identify opportunities to continue cross-state sharing and network-building among workforce development leaders in southern states. To learn more, please email Brooke DeRenzis, State Network Director.  

Posted In: Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

  ·   By Sapna Mehta
Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

Governors across the nation are proposing new measures to increase middle-skill training.  Among the most common proposals are state support for apprenticeships and new investments in community college training, including free tuition. 

California Governor Jerry Brown proposed an additional $150 million for grants to support community colleges to develop and implement “guided pathways programs, an integrated, institution-wide approach” to improve student success.  The Governor also proposed utilizing $923,000 in federal funds to expand existing apprenticeship programs and create new programs in non-traditional and emerging industries.

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan proposed $41 million for the Going Pro Program, a job training program that focuses on in-demand occupations in advanced manufacturing, construction, information technology and healthcare. The Governor also spoke of the need to work with legislators and the private sector to increase the number of registered apprenticeships in the state.

Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada proposed a $21 million investment in career and technical education programs at the state’s four community colleges. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf requested $12 million in new funding to establish the Manufacturing PA initiative – a partnership between the Department of Community and Economic Development, research universities, community colleges, and other training providers to foster growth and innovation in manufacturing.  Of the $12 million, $5 million is for a manufacturing training-to-career grant program, which would facilitate partnerships between manufacturers and community colleges and technical providers, to link job training to career pathways through programs such as apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and paid internships. The Governor also proposed $4 million to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including grants for employers of up to $2,000 for each registered apprentice.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proposed a $5 million increase in state funds and a new $5 million program for the Department of Workforce Development to make grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System for in-demand certification programs for high school students. The Governor also proposed $5 million for a registered apprenticeship program.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan proposed the Student Debt Relief Act, which would allow “Marylanders to deduct one hundred percent of the interest paid on their student loans from their state income tax return.” Additionally, as part of the Governor’s $5 million 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative, he proposed opening six new P-TECH high schools, and funding to support students currently enrolled in existing schools.  P-TECH schools partner with employers and colleges to provide secondary to postsecondary pathways in STEM.   The Jobs Initiative also includes a $3 million investment in cyber job training grants, modeled after Maryland’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) workforce training program.  The Governor also announced a $1 million investment in Maryland Partnership for Workforce Quality, to encourage employers to invest in employee training.   

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed the $4 million Learn to Earn program, which would offer scholarships for training and certificates in certain fields, as well as transportation and child care subsidies to make it easier for people to attend the trainings.

Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island proposed $2 million for the Community College of Rhode Island Westerly Job Skills Training Center, which prepare students for jobs in advanced manufacturing in partnership with employers, and $2 million for the state’s TechHire initiative for training in technology related fields.  The Governor also proposed free tuition for two years at the state’s public colleges: University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.  Additionally, she proposed expanding P-TECH high schools.  

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb proposed investing $2 million to create regional Jobs Ready Grants to help incumbent workers earn in-demand credentials or certificates.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed a budget enhancement of $1 million for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program, which supports 124 different training programs at Virginia’s Community colleges.  The Governor also proposed requiring community colleges to award college credit for apprenticeships and other related programs, expanding access to in-demand credentials for non-traditional students. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Excelsior Scholarship Program, a “last-dollar scholarship” to provide free tuition at the state’s public two- and four-year colleges to residents earning up to $125,000 annually.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed tuition-free community college education for all adults without a post-secondary degree.  Currently, adults without post-secondary degrees can attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology tuition-free through Tennessee Reconnect, and only recent high school graduates can apply for “last-dollar scholarships” to attend the state’s community colleges through Tennessee Promise. Funding for the new adult scholarships would come from the state’s lottery proceeds.

Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed piloting the Accelerated Completion of Technical Studies program, which would provide financial support to low-income students pursuing associate degrees at community colleges for in-demand jobs.  This is modeled after a similar successful program at the City University of New York.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas proposed free tuition at two-year colleges and technical schools for high school students who enroll in high-demand fields, such as computer science or welding.  The grants, known as Arkansas Future Grants, would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  They would be paid for by repurposing $8.2 million in general revenue funds from other workforce and higher education grants.

Posted In: Arkansas, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin

10 states to participate in “SNAP to Skills” technical assistance project

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
10 states to participate in “SNAP to Skills” technical assistance project

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that 10 states have been selected to receive in-depth technical assistance as part of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture “SNAP to Skills” project. The selected states include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The effort, led by the Seattle Jobs Initiative, will help these states design job-driven Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T). States will participate in the project through September 2017. 

Over the past several years, National Skills Coalition has partnered with Seattle Jobs Initiative to promote skills-based SNAP E&T programs in the states. By combining education, training, and support services, SNAP E&T programs can expand opportunities for low-income people to move into family-supporting jobs.

With support from partners like the Annie E. Casey and W.K. Kellogg foundations, NSC has worked with SJI to share best practices and recommendations based on Washington State’s skills-based SNAP E&T programs. Together, we’ve produced numerous publications and webinars, hosted a meeting for 11 states interested in skills-based SNAP E&T, and provided technical assistance to four states looking to expand SNAP E&T partnerships with community colleges and community-based organizations. We’re now working together to identify opportunities for aligning SNAP E&T with broader state workforce development efforts under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The SNAP to Skills Project is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s effort to help SNAP E&T programs become more job-driven. In December 2015, the agency’s Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an official communication to state SNAP agencies promoting practices that help participants build the skills required by today’s job market.

NSC will continue to provide resources to partners in the field on how SNAP E&T programs can expand opportunities for low-income people to enhance their skills, credentials, careers, and ultimately, their families’ financial well-being. 

 
Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee

Innovative Partnership Saves Arkansas CTE Time and Money

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Innovative Partnership Saves Arkansas CTE Time and Money

The Arkansas Research Center (ARC) recently created software for the Arkansas Department of Career and Technical Education (CTE), which uses longitudinal data to aid with Perkins reporting. The software saves time for case workers, saves money for CTE, and helps sustain ARC.

CTE approached ARC (which has two software developers on staff) when they wanted new technical solutions for Perkins reporting. ARC was able to create software that will not only reduce the burden of Perkins reporting, but will also save CTE an estimated half a million dollars over the next ten years.

Previous software required case workers to follow up with CTE graduates to determine their outcomes – specifically, whether they had enrolled in higher education or entered the workforce. However, ARC’s software eliminates this step for many graduates, because it can find this information in ARC’s longitudinal database and then automatically input that information into the reporting system.

ARC’s software is also significantly cheaper than CTE’s previous solutions. Over the next decade, the previous software would have cost CTE between $1.4 and $1.5 million for maintenance alone. In contrast, according to ARC staff, its software will cost about $900,000 for development of the system and maintenance over the next decade. This partnership will also help to sustain ARC, which does not receive state funding.

Governed by a state commission but operating independently from other state departments, ARC manages the state's longitudinal data system with information from human service, education, and workforce agencies.

WDQC is pleased to profile this and other innovative partnerships that promote effective uses of longitudinal data.

Posted In: Arkansas, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

NSC highlights skills policies adopted in states’ 2015 legislative sessions

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
NSC highlights skills policies adopted in states’ 2015 legislative sessions

In 2015, numerous states enacted legislation to address the needs of workers and employers and close the middle-skill gap. As highlighted in NSC’s 2015 state legislative round-up, states increased access to career pathways and set policies to support job-driven training.  They also took steps to implement the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which became effective on July 1, 2015.

To hear more about the actions governors and state legislatures took in 2015 to close the skills gap, register for our 2015 State Policy Legislative Round-Up, hosted on July 28 at 2pm ET.

Career Pathways 

At least nine states enacted legislation to support career pathways policies. Career pathways combine education, training, career counseling and support services that align with industry skill needs so participants can earn secondary school diplomas or their equivalent, postsecondary credentials, and get middle-skill jobs. In 2015, Colorado and Minnesota adopted legislation that will increase investments in career pathway strategies in their states.

 Career pathways include adult basic education, typically offered concurrently with and in the same context as general workforce preparation and training for an occupation. In 2015, Arkansas, California, Georgia, and Ohio increased investments in adult basic education.

Tuition assistance is also critical to ensuring that career pathways lead to postsecondary credentials, particularly for part-time, working students. In 2015, Indiana, Nebraska, and Oregon all passed legislation that expands tuition assistance.

Job-Driven Training 

Job-driven training prepares workers for jobs available in the economy. In 2015, a handful of states passed legislation to advance job-driven training.

California, Colorado, and Washington enacted legislation to expand work-based learning in their states by making investments in apprenticeship programs, paid internships in key industries, and apprenticeship preparation and supportive services respectively.

Hawaii and Oklahoma both passed legislation establishing bodies to advise the state on healthcare workforce policy.

Arkansas and Maine passed legislation to support employer-driven training programs developed through partnerships between employers and educational institutions.

WIOA Implementation

In 2015, Arkansas and Louisiana were among states that enacted WIOA implementation legislation specifying the type of workforce plan the state should submit to the federal government under the new federal law. 

In 2015, California, Florida, and Virginia all enacted legislation that emphasizes skills strategies, such as sector partnerships and career pathways, as part of WIOA implementation.

Posted In: Job-Driven Investments, Career Pathways, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Maine, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia

Workforce data explained

  ·   By Christina Pena
Workforce data explained

This post originally appears on Workforce Data Quality Campaign's blog. 

WDQC is launching a series of short videos that highlight how states are using education and workforce data to advance their skilled workforce and better align with industry demand. 

In this first video, Neal Gibson, Director of the Arkansas Research Center, explains his state's Career Pathways Initiative and the vital role administrative data play in improving the career prospects of Arkansans. Additional videos featuring officials from other states will be released about once a month through WDQC's website and e-news.

Neal Gibson of the Arkansas Research Center talks to WDQC

Background information and resources:

  • Since 2005, the Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative has aimed to provide low-income individuals with the higher education skills and credentials they need to gain immediate entry into targeted occupations and eventually achieve economic self-sufficiency. 
  • In Arkansas, legislators are recognizing the power of the state's data to aid in decisionmaking. A new law requires the state to prepare brief regular reports, targeted at parents and prospective students, showing employment and earnings outcomes for graduates of public colleges.
  • Arkansas is one of seven states that has partnered with College Measures to publicize average earnings for graduates of education and training programs, available at Economic Success Measures - Arkansas.
  • WDQC's survey of Arkansas in 2014: Mastering the Blueprint.   
Posted In: Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Arkansas
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