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Philadelphia launches “city fellowship” to match jobseekers with in-demand positions in municipal government

The City of Philadelphia recently began piloting a fellowship program that will enable qualified immigrant jobseekers to gain crucial municipal work experience. The model draws on key principles recommended by National Skills Coalition as part of effective work-based learning policies.

The fellowship program is one of several that are being launched as part of a new initiative, “City as Model Employer,” spearheaded by Philadelphia Mayor James F. Kenney, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and the Managing Director’s Office. The initiative will assist individuals with barriers to employment in advancing along a career pathway into permanent employment with City government or an employer partner.

The program represents an innovative approach to tackling the under-employment of immigrants who have legal work authorization and educational credentials, but have not been able to find skill-appropriate employment. Simultaneously, it also helps to address municipal government’s need for workers to fill key middle-skill positions.

In addition to the immigrant fellowships, several other programs serving US-born Philadelphia residents will be piloted over the next three years. Each will target a specific population of workers who face barriers, including out-of-school youth, justice-involved individuals, and adults who lack foundational skills and credentials.

City government is one of the largest employers in Philadelphia. The Kenney administration has said it hopes to lead by example in providing opportunities to people who have historically found it difficult to access good jobs and family-sustaining wages. The fellowship program is meant to strengthen career pathways that allow workers to progress from part-time or temporary positions to full-time, permanent employment.

The fellowship program launched with a small inaugural class of five fellows, who are being housed at the city Departments of Commerce (two fellows), Department of Licenses & Inspections, Office of Domestic Violence, and Office of Innovation and Technology. Funding for each of the fellowship participants’ wages is coming from the budget of the individual city department in which they are working.

While the program is not structured as a formal apprenticeship, it does include some elements consistent with high-quality work-based learning policies as outlined in NSC’s federal and state policy recommendations. They include:

  • A combination of paid work experience (participants will be paid $13/hour during their 12-week fellowship placements) and classroom learning (prior to beginning their work experience, participants were required to complete the Immigrant Professionals Program at the nonprofit Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians)
  • Supportive services provided through a trusted partner with expertise in serving the participant population (in this case, the Welcoming Center)
  • An intentional effort to include targeted populations of disadvantaged adults (in this case, unemployed or under-employed immigrants)

The impetus for focusing on immigrants as one of the target populations stems in part from the city’s growing population of individuals with international degrees and experience. Since 1990, Philadelphia has seen its foreign-born population nearly double. Today, the city is home to nearly 200,000 immigrants comprising 13 percent of the total population. Immigrant city residents are more likely than US-born residents to have advanced education, with 28 percent of immigrants having a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 25 percent of the native-born.

Yet despite their educational attainment, many of these individuals are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs that do not draw on their full talents and abilities. This widespread issue, sometimes termed “brain waste,” is particularly acute among immigrants who earned their degrees abroad, and among individuals from Africa or Latin America.  Research shows that a major barrier for such individuals is gaining U.S. work experience that can help them demonstrate their expertise to American employers. 

Posted In: Immigration, Pennsylvania

Upcoming webinar will explore WIOA’s role in supporting corrections and re-entry services

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
Upcoming webinar will explore WIOA’s role in supporting corrections and re-entry services

Services for people who are currently incarcerated or who have criminal records are an important element of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. An upcoming webinar from National Skills Coalition will explore policy avenues for improving adult education and workforce services for people who are incarcerated or who are returning to their communities after incarceration.

Featured Speakers

  • Sherri Moses, Council of State Governments Justice Center. Sherri will discuss opportunities under WIOA for better serving people with criminal records.
  • Will Heaton, Center for Employment Opportunities. Will will share examples of how two states – Pennsylvania and California – have used WIOA planning processes and funding mechanisms to address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Gillian Gabelmann, Washburn Tech University. Gillian will provide a case study highlighting adult education and workforce-preparation services in a Kansas correctional facility for women, using an Integrated Education and Training (IET) model.

The webinar will be moderated by NSC’s Director of Upskilling Policy, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock. It will be held on May 18, 2017 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Register now to ensure your place.

Background: How Widespread are WIOA-Funded Re-Entry Services?

A 2015 survey by the National Association of Counties (NACo) found that nearly half (47%) of local workforce boards reported that they were providing re-entry services for people returning to the community after incarceration. More specifically, 44% of workforce boards were providing re-entry services to adults, and 30% were providing such services to youth.

Many workforce boards fund re-entry services using WIOA Title I Adult, Dislocated Worker, or Youth dollars. NACo’s report Second Chances, Safer Counties includes several short case studies of how boards are using such funding as well as other federal and state sources. They include:

In addition to WIOA formula funds to the states, additional funding for services to formerly incarcerated people is available through the WIOA Sec. 169 Re-Entry Employment Opportunities (REO) program. REO is administered by the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The most recent round of REO grants was awarded in June 2016 and totaled $64.5 million.

Background: Understanding the Demand for WIOA Adult Education Services in Corrections

Under WIOA Sec. 225, states may use up to 20% of their WIOA Title II funds to provide adult education programs for individuals who are currently incarcerated. This is an increase from the earlier Workforce Investment Act, which had allowed states to use up to 10% of their funds for corrections education.

The increase reflects a growing understanding of the deep need for adult education programs serving people who are incarcerated. Data from the rigorous international assessment known as the PIAAC show that a substantial percentage of incarcerated individuals in the United States have basic skills gaps.

In particular, a full 30% of incarcerated adults lack a high school diploma. People who are incarcerated are also more likely to have low literacy levels, with 29% scoring below Level 2 on the PIAAC, compared to 19% of those in US households.  Incarcerated individuals are even more likely to have low numeracy scores, with 52% scoring below Level 2 compared to 29% of adults in US households.

Many people in prison have a strong interest in continuing their education: A full 70% of incarcerated individuals who were not currently enrolled in an education program said that they wanted to pursue one.

More information is available in the publication Highlights from the US PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education and Training, published by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2016.


Learn more about these important issues in NSC’s May 18 webinar

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, California, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Wisconsin

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
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

NSC summer tour: Workforce innovation across the United States

  ·   By Yuri Chang, Christina Lindborg-Pena, Ashley Shaw
NSC summer tour: Workforce innovation across the United States

National Skills Coalition has taken to the road this summer. Our staff got to see firsthand how the issue areas we have been working on are progressing in different states, and to meet people who have been tirelessly engaging in these efforts.

NSC would like to thank everyone we met during our visits for sharing their time and insight, and for allowing us into their busy workspaces! 

Demand-driven postsecondary education in St. Louis:

Chief of Staff Rachel Unruh, National Field Director Jessie Hogg Leslie, Workforce Data Quality Campaign Director Rachel Zinn, and Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships Director Scott Ellsworth visited two workforce training centers to learn how federal policies such as HEA, Perkins, and WIOA can better support employer-driven training. The group first visited the St. Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program, led by NSC leadership council member Dr. John Gaal of the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity. The apprenticeship program is a partnership between management and labor, preparing at-risk youth and other non-traditional populations for careers in the construction sector. The group then visited St. Louis Community College’s Center for Workforce Innovation. In addition to the Center’s pre-employment training program with Boeing, staff learned about how STLCC has leveraged four rounds of TAACCCT grants to align federal funding streams, partner with employers in targeted industries, revamp developmental education, and collaborate more effectively with other community colleges in the state. Leaders of the TAACCCT initiatives discussed how short-term, non-credit Pell and more resources for postsecondary Perkins/Career & Technical Education could help them sustain and scale the innovations they’ve fostered as a result of the time-limited TAACCCT grants.


Sector partnerships and youth in New York City

CEO Andy Van Kleunen, Chief of Development and Strategic Growth Sarah Oldmixon, Federal Policy Director Kermit Kaleba, and Field Coordinator Ashley Shaw visited organizations focusing on youth workforce development strategies, with a particular interest in learning more about sector partnerships and work-based learning models that serve youth and young adults. Their first stop was Per Scholas, New York City’s largest and oldest professional IT workforce development program. Per Scholas offers a series of free, multi-week professional IT job training courses and career development and placement services, and has trained more than 4,5000 students since 1998. The group then visited Comprehensive Development Inc. (CDI), a non-profit that prepares youth and young adults for future careers and life through free academic, career-readiness, and social services. CDI serves 3,500 NYC public high school students and alumni through a network of partner schools including the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, and organizations such as the New York Alliance for Careers in Health. The group finally visited the Heckscher Foundation for Children, which provides grants to youth-serving organizations in the fields of education, family services, child welfare, health, arts and recreation.


Data systems, career pathways, and WIOA planning in the Twin Cities

State Policy Director Bryan Wilson, Senior State Policy Analyst Brooke DeRenzis, and Rachel Zinn and Christina Lindborg-Pena of Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) traveled to Minnesota to learn about data systems, career pathways, and WIOA planning.  They first met with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and Department of Employment and Economic Development personnel who demonstrated recently developed data tools that prospective students and job searchers can use to shape their career paths. The team next visited the Project for Pride in Living (PPL) Learning Center to learn about their FastTRAC career pathway program. PPL prepares people for jobs in the human services sector by partnering with others to combine adult education, occupational training, career counseling, and support services. The crew then headed to the Anoka County Workforce Center, a point of resource for career pathways programs, adult basic education and other education opportunities, WIOA employment and training services, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training, childcare and medical assistance, and more. To cap off the tour, NSC staff had the unique opportunity to join a monthly meeting of the Minnesota Workforce Council Association (MWCA) Operations Committee. The meeting provided NSC staff with a chance to hear about different perspectives on WIOA implementation throughout the state.


Immigrant integration and adult education in Philadelphia

Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Business Manager Melanie Pinkert, Communications Associate Yuri Chang, and Office Manager Tabitha Bennett visited the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians to learn about services that promote immigrant participation in the area’s political, social, and economic life. The Welcoming Center is a centralized employment and referral center that connects jobseekers to employers, and provides English language classes, job and life skills training, small business support, and legal advice. The group learned how the Welcoming Center utilizes strategic partnerships with numerous regional organizations such as government agencies, service providers, employers, business associations, and trade unions to connect immigrants to economic opportunities. The group met with several program directors and sat in on a contextualized English language, life skills class.  NSC is working to increase resources for effective, employment focused ABE/ESL at the state and federal levels.

Posted In: Immigration, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Higher Education Access, Adult Basic Education, Career Pathways, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Data and Credentials, Sector Partnerships, Missouri, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania

Skills strategies included in more governors’ budget proposals

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
Skills strategies included in more governors’ budget proposals

Over the past few months, governors have unveiled their spending plans for the upcoming fiscal year or biennium. Several of these budget proposals include support for strategies to close the skill gap. Since our blog on governors’ budgets last month, we’ve reviewed additional budget proposals that address strategies like sector partnerships, career pathways, and job-driven training.

Proposals by first-time governors in Pennsylvania and Maryland include support for existing state sector partnership programs. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf proposed $11.6 million for the state’s Industry Partnerships program – a nearly $10 million increase over the current funding level. Despite proposed cuts in other areas, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s FY 2016 budget maintained $4.5 million for the state’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) program, which supports skills training developed by industry partnerships.

Governors in Minnesota, Connecticut, and Rhode Island proposed increased investments for career pathways. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s “Pathways to Prosperity” proposal would provide $12 million in the FY 2016-17 biennium to support career pathways programs that integrate remedial education with industry-focused skills training to help individuals with barriers to work find and keep family-supporting jobs. Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy’s FY 2016-2017 biennium budget proposal includes $1.5 million per year to expand the I-BEST program, which provides adult education in tandem with occupational skills training.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed FY 2016 budget includes new investments to expand high school students’ pathways to postsecondary credentials and degrees. A proposed $1.3 million for Prepare RI would allow high school students to concurrently earn college credits at no cost and $900,000 would lay the foundation for an accelerated high school-to-associate degree pathway informed by industry partners. Governor Raimondo also proposes new performance measures to focus existing workforce development funds more keenly on demand-driven training.

While Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker did not propose significant increases to workforce development funding in FY 2016, he signed an executive order establishing a Workforce Skills Cabinet chaired by the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development to coordinate state agencies around the goal of closing the skill gap.

Governors’ budget proposals are now under review by state legislatures. Check NSC’s skills blog later this spring for updates on state budgets and legislation.

Posted In: Job-Driven Investments, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Connecticut, Rhode Island

Candidates focus on the skills gap.

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,

The skills gap is on the agenda for the 2014 gubernatorial elections. Rather than debating whether there is a middle-skill gap, candidates are competing over who has the best plan to close it. Here’s a look at races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In Pennsylvania, gubernatorial candidate Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D) unveiled a plan to create 10,000 new apprentices. She would do this by offering a 50 percent tax credit for every dollar an employer contributes to an apprenticeship program and an additional credit when an apprentice completes a program and is hired. She would also triple funding for the state’s sector-based Industry Partnership Program, and increase investments in community colleges and career and technical education. Finally, she would consolidate the number of state workforce programs and place them under a single office in the Department of Labor and Industry. 

Katie McGinty, also running in the Democratic primary, would restore $42 million in state funding for workforce training, expand online training programs and allocate $3 million to expand apprenticeship programs by offering $1,000 stipends to employers who create new apprenticeships, with a target of nearly tripling the number of apprentices. 

Tom Wolf, another candidate in the crowded Democratic field, proposes grants to create more apprenticeships and other paid work-based learning opportunities in manufacturing for community college students. 

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R), who is running for reelection, requested $5 million in additional funding from the legislature for three middle-skill job training programs for employer-driven training.

In Wisconsin, gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (D) says workforce development is the most important part of her jobs plan. She calls for increasing the production of postsecondary certificates and degrees, especially for middle-skill jobs. She proposes a cluster-based strategy that would coordinate workforce and economic development around targeted industry sectors. She would create a Wisconsin Talent Development Fund and allocate grants to intermediaries who would convene employers and training providers to address the skills gap in their cluster. She points to the Work Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership as a model intermediary. She would create workforce supply and demand forecasts based on skill clusters. Burke would also expand Wisconsin’s youth apprenticeship program, and enhance career and technical education and career planning in schools.

Governor Scott Walker (R), who is running for reelection, also speaks about the importance of closing the middle-skill gap. He champions increased investments in Wisconsin’s technical college system and more funding for customized training for individual employers. This year he requested and the legislature appropriated a $35 million enhancement for Wisconsin’s Fast Forward program to: support dual enrollment programs between school districts and technical colleges that target high demand jobs; increase technical college capacity to eliminate waiting lists in high demand fields; and support programs helping people with disabilities enter the workforce. Governor Walker has also supported the expansion of Wisconsin’s youth apprenticeship program and increased funding for career and technical education, and the creation of a new skill-based labor market information system to better connect job seekers and employers.

Candidates in other states are also promoting plans to close the middle-skill gap. As the election cycle continues, NSC will keep you posted.

Posted In: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

Several states expanding apprenticeships.

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,

To close the skills gap, state elected officials are engaging in new efforts to expand apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning. Governors, state legislators, and even political candidates are turning to one of the oldest, and best, models of training in order to build the skills pipeline for tomorrow.

Last year, Wisconsin enacted legislation appropriating $500,000 to expand the number of youth apprenticeships by 555. Wisconsin’s youth apprenticeship program has long been recognized as a successful skills training model. In addition, Wisconsin will also reimburse workers and employers for tuition paid as part of apprenticeship programs.

Two governors are also providing support for the expansion of apprenticeships. In January, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proposed tripling state funding for Iowa’s apprenticeship programs from $1 million to $3 million. His proposal would also shift administration of the grants from community colleges and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to solely the IEDA.

With the support of Governor Steve Beshear, Kentucky became the latest state to join Germany’s Skill Initiative in March. The Initiative, based on the German “dual system,” combines equal parts classroom instruction and on-the-job training. As part of the Initiative, the German Embassy helps to bring together German and American firms with education and training providers in order to establish training programs for manufacturing workers. According to the Governor’s Office, “more than 150 Kentucky companies are participating in formalized dual-track training programs, employing hundreds of student workers.”  

State legislators are also introducing new proposals to expand apprenticeships and other work-based learning. For instance, California Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez has introduced Assembly Bill 1797 that would require the Division of Apprenticeship Standards to identify opportunities to establish apprenticeship programs in health care. The Division would also establish standards for pre-apprenticeship programs and for entry into health care apprenticeship programs. Rodriquez has also sponsored Assembly Bill 1569 that would provide employers with a tax credit of $2,000 for each young employee (between the ages of 16 and 25) in an apprenticeship.

Candidates for elective office are also supporting apprenticeships a part of their campaign platforms. For instance, in Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates Katie McGinty and Representative Allyson Schwartz have announced plans to expand the number of apprenticeships. Ms. McGinty would invest $3 million and provide $1,000 stipends for apprenticeships. Representative Schwartz pledges to increase the number of apprentices by 10,000.  

It is widely recognized that in the United States apprenticeship is an underutilized model of training. Perhaps with this renewed interest by state elected officials, the U.S. will join other industrial nations in taking advantage of training that combines classroom and on-the-job learning, earning while learning, and standards and certifications designed by employers and workers.  

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Job-Driven Investments, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Iowa

Governors propose new workforce initiatives.

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,

More than a dozen governors have announced new legislative and budget proposals to support workforce development efforts in their state. As state budgets recover from the recession, these governors are targeting middle-skill training for increased investments, including proposals to provide support for employer-led sector partnerships, to align the state’s workforce system, to make technical and community college affordable, and to assist the long-term unemployed back to work. Below are a few of these gubernatorial initiatives.

The governors of Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin have requested funding for new or enhanced programs for middle-skill training. Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed $30 million to train incumbent and unemployed workers for middle-skill STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering and math) and other high demand/high wage fields, and to provide scholarships for students. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker requested a $35 million enhancement for Wisconsin’s Fast Forward program to support dual enrollment programs between school districts and technical colleges that target high demand jobs; increase technical college capacity to eliminate waiting lists in high demand fields; and support programs helping people with disabilities enter the workforce.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett requested $5 million in additional funding for three middle-skill job training programs for employer-driven training, including services to people with disabilities. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proposed a $4.5 million increase for the Missouri Works Training Program, a customized training program for employers. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proposed tripling state funding for apprenticeships, and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee requested a $500,000 enhancement from the state general fund for the state’s workforce investment system.  

Governors in Connecticut and Kentucky proposed new efforts to fill skill gaps in advanced manufacturing. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proposed $25 million to create an advanced manufacturing fund to support workforce training and other assistance for employers. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear proposed $24 million in general fund-supported bonds to build an advanced manufacturing training center to serve as a direct pipeline for high demand workers. 

Malloy also proposed measures to assist the long-term unemployed (LTU). He requested $3.6 million to establish a program to replicate Platform to Employment. The program provides five weeks of intensive job readiness training, behavioral health services, financial coaching, and eight weeks of subsidized work experience. Malloy also proposed legislation to prevent employers from screening out LTU applicants merely because they are unemployed.  

The governors of Ohio and Oregon introduced proposals to increase the alignment of their workforce development systems. Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed a single integrated state plan for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Adult Basic Education. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber requested legislation authorizing the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) to assist the governor in approving the plans of local workforce investment boards (LWIBs) and in establishing criteria for LWIB membership. The bill also authorized the SWIB to hold workforce agencies and LWIBs accountable for meeting performance goals.

Finally, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed funding to cover the cost of tuition for technical college students in high demand fields, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed free tuition for high school graduates if they attend a community college or college of applied technology.

NSC will continue to monitor and provide updates as these proposals move forward.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, Oregon, Georgia

Report: State Sector Strategies Coming of Age.

On January 16, NSC, in partnership with the National Governors Association and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, released the new report State Sector Strategies Coming of Age: Implications for State Workforce Policymakers.

This report offers a snapshot of sector strategies today, an overview of what makes them different from traditional workforce and economic development programs and a description of actions that state administrators and policymakers can take as part of a policy framework to support the strategies’ creation and effective operation.

Sector strategies are one of the few workforce interventions with statistical evidence showing improvements in employment opportunities for workers and increases in their wages. Amidst the challenges of the slowly recovering national economy, these strategies can do the following:

  • Address current and emerging skill gaps. Sector strategies offer a mechanism to focus scarce resources on industries that are major job providers in an area, as well as to focus comprehensively on the workforce skills, from entry level to advanced, required in a regional economy. 
  • Provide a means to engage directly with industry across traditional boundaries. Businesses operate in economic regions that may cross city, county, and state lines and education and economic development areas.
  • Sector strategies work across the boundaries to identify and address specific workforce needs in almost every industry.
  • Better align state programs and resources serving employers and workers. Intense demand for balancing budgets at the state level threaten initiatives in education, training, economic development, and other essential state services. Sector strategies help to reduce inefficiencies and streamline state efforts by coordinating various programs and braiding disparate funding streams.

More than half of U.S. states are exploring or implementing sector strategies. Their efforts, combined with those of their local and regional partners, have created over one thousand sector partnerships across the country that funnel a pipeline of workers to well-paying jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.

  • In 2009 in Pennsylvania, 84 percent of surveyed employers participating in industry partnerships reported significant increases in productivity. 
  • The Aspen Institute found that 48 percent of participants in sector-based programs exited poverty. 
  • In Massachusetts, 41 percent of surveyed employers participating in sector partnerships reported reduced turnover; 19 percent reported less rework on the job; 23 percent reported fewer customer complaints; and 100 percent of the companies said that participation in a sector partnership was valuable.

Based on more than a decade of knowledge gained, lessons learned, and evidence that sector strategies work, it is clear that they will continue to grow and evolve, especially in states and localities that have already adopted the approach. States are finding sector strategies key to addressing skills gaps, engaging directly with industry and streamlining state programs and resources.

Check out the full report to learn more about the development of state policies and programs to support sector strategies in your state.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania
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