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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today is reserved for students who are enrolled in programs of study that are at least 600 clock hours over 15 weeks—an outdated policy that fails to account for the training needs of individuals in our 21st century economy.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

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

RI Uses UI Records and LMI to Make Dislocated Worker Determination

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
RI Uses UI Records and LMI to Make Dislocated Worker Determination

In December 2016, Rhode Island’s Governor’s Workforce Board passed a new policy clarifying the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)’s definition of “dislocated worker.” Under this new definition, the state estimates that more than twice as many dislocated workers will be eligible to receive services paid for by federal grant funds already awarded to the state. The state will use unemployment insurance (UI) records and labor market information (LMI) to determine whether workers are dislocated.  

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of Sector Partnership National Emergency Grants (SP NEGs) to help develop sector strategies to enhance services for dislocated workers. Although Rhode Island was awarded a SP NEG grant for its Real Jobs Rhode Island sector partnership, the state had difficulty using those funds to provide services to dislocated workers. That’s because the state couldn’t easily get the participant labor history information it needed to determine if each participant was, in fact, a dislocated worker. Many participants were served outside the One-Stop system (the entities that typically collect this information), and others had a hard time providing accurate and detailed information about their employment history.

However, Rhode Island’s new dislocated worker policy no longer requires the state to collect documentation from participants to prove dislocated worker status. The new policy allows the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to access the worker employment information it already has, in the form of UI records. Under the new policy, if a worker has received UI compensation in the past, the state will compare the participant’s current earnings to the average earnings someone in their industry would have made had they not been dislocated. The state determines projected earnings by utilizing LMI. If the worker is earning less than projected, that participant is considered dislocated, and eligible to be served using federal SP NEG funds.

Moving forward, the state hopes to automate this calculation, and to use data from UI records to automatically populate federally required reporting templates.

Rhode Island’s new dislocated worker policy was created by a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and Brown University’s Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab (RIIPL), which aims to help state agencies create evidence-based policies.

Posted In: Rhode Island, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

WDQC infographic features states’ college scorecards

  ·   By Rachel Zinn
WDQC infographic features states’ college scorecards

While Congress debates the appropriate role for the federal government in helping students get information about college, states are stepping up to provide important data on postsecondary education outcomes.

A growing number of state websites show information about postsecondary program costs, graduation rates, average debt, and average post-program earnings. These websites are designed to help students, families, and workers make decisions about colleges and careers.

In some states, publicizing this information is required by law. A new infographic from Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), a project of National Skills Coalition, highlights state legislative models.

Minnesota, for example, has a law that requires colleges to report data to the state. Using this data, state agencies created the Graduate Employment Outcomes tool. It shows hourly wages one, two, and four years after graduation, as well as industries and regions of employment for graduates by school, degree, and major. Agency leaders conduct outreach to high school to help counselors and students use the tool.

To get information about what happens to graduates in the labor market, states match student records reported by colleges with data about employment and wages collected as part of the Unemployment Insurance program. This data matching allows a more accurate picture of graduates’ employment than alumni surveys.

WDQC encourages states to develop scorecards showing postsecondary education program results in its State Blueprint. In addition, the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) at National Skills Coalition works intensively with selected states (California, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island) to develop scorecards and other data tools.

The U.S. Department of Education currently provides a College Scorecard for all schools nationwide, and Congress is considering whether to require this type of effort in law. The bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, proposed in both the House and Senate, would mandate federal student data system, data matching, and reporting on education and employment outcomes.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Governors propose workforce initiatives - Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Data Reveal Challenges and Opportunity for RI's Young Adults

  ·   By Christina Pena,

Rhode Island DataHUB has released a new data story that examines the workforce outcomes of young adults who have been educated at the state’s public postsecondary institutions. Through charts, graphs, and brief text, the story conveys the challenges members of this group face as Rhode Island seeks to improve their employment outcomes.

Young Adults in RI’s Education-to-Career Pipeline reviews factors such as educational attainment and field of study to see how they relate to subsequent employment in the state. The story summarizes findings from a research project that has followed a cohort of students who attended 8th grade during the 2005-06 academic year in Rhode Island public schools and who have since enrolled in the state's public postsecondary institutions.


Rhode Island Young Adult Wages


Using 2014 wage records, researchers found that these graduates had lower wages than Rhode Island industry averages, which may be expected because these young adults have been in the workforce for a relatively shorter period of time overall and have probably started out at entry level jobs. The authors flag a worrying trend, however, in that a sizeable portion of these young adults are not even earning a "living wage."

On a more positive note, cohort members who earned associate's degrees or certificates in time for tracking their place in the workforce 18 months after graduation saw a 64% average increase in their total annual earnings.

The project will continue to assess data for this cohort to examine their longer-term wages with an eye toward retaining Rhode Island talent, and helping prospective students make better choices when considering their postsecondary to career paths.

RI DataHUB also recently posted a story on Health Care and Social Assistance in Rhode Island's Economy, which takes a closer look at the size and wages of various health and social service job sectors within Rhode Island, and also compares the findings against regional and national trends.

These Data Stories from Rhode Island and similar projects show how states can build on their Statewide Longitudinal Data System and Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants to inform education and workforce stakeholders. For more information on how Rhode Island is using workforce data, see WDQC's 2015 Blueprint survey assessment, the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project via the National Skills Coalition, and Rhode Island's Data Sharing Project.


Posted In: Rhode Island, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

NSC holds 2015 SWEAP state forum

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
NSC holds 2015 SWEAP state forum

On November 16 and 17 in Chicago, the National Skills Coalition held the 2015 State Forum of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP).  SWEAP is demonstrating how state policymakers can use information from cross-program data tools to better align workforce and education programs with one another and with employer skill needs. Attending the forum were teams of officials from the four states receiving SWEAP direct technical assistance: California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island.   

The 2015 Forum, organized by Bryan Wilson, NSC State Policy Director and Director of SWEAP, provided a deep dive into the development of data tools. The Forum focused on peer learning and advice from national experts. Keith Ewald from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services demonstrated the Ohio Workforce Success Measures Dashboard that shows the performance results of major workforce and education programs at state and sub-state levels using metrics similar to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act common measures. 

Mimmo Parisi, Director of The National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State University, demonstrated how their LifeTracks system can function as a pathway evaluator identifying outcomes associated with participation in multiple programs.  Jill Leufgen of the Chancellor’s Office of California Community Colleges presented California’s LaunchBoard, showing patterns of participation in community colleges and the associated labor market outcomes.

Guests from Florida and Colorado, Duane Whitfield and Lauren Victor, explained their state’s approaches to analyzing the supply, demand, and gaps for skilled and educated workers. Kevin Hollenbeck from the Upjohn Institute talked about measuring and reporting program net impacts on employment and earnings, and the return on investment for taxpayers—metrics that can be used as part of state dashboards.  Derek Redelman from USA Funds and Whitney Smith from JPMorgan Chase, Global Philanthropy, funders of SWEAP, spoke about why they are committed to improving the data available to policymakers.

The four SWEAP states will take lessons learned from the Forum as they continue to develop the three types of data tools. In 2016, as the tools are developed, SWEAP will further engage state policymakers. The purpose of SWEAP is not to develop data for data’s sake, but to provide information policymakers can use to better align workforce and education programs with the labor market and enable more individuals to attain postsecondary credentials and higher levels of employment.  As SWEAP continues, NSC will share the lessons learned with other states through webinars and reports. 

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Ohio

SWEAP launches projects in Mississippi and Rhode Island

SWEAP launches projects in Mississippi and Rhode Island

The State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) held launch meetings in Jackson, Mississippi and Providence, Rhode Island in August. SWEAP, an initiative of the National Skills Coalition (NSC), supported by JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and USA Funds, is demonstrating how state policymakers can use information from cross-program data tools to better align workforce and education programs with one another and with employer skill needs.

In Jackson, Andy Van Kleunen, NSC CEO and Bryan Wilson, NSC State Policy Director and Director of SWEAP, met with workforce and education leaders from the Office of the Governor, the State Workforce Investment Board, the Department of Employment Security, the Community College Board, and the State Data Clearinghouse. The meeting was hosted by Jay Moon, President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and Chair of the State Workforce Investment Board. Andy and Bryan talked with the Mississippi leaders about the SWEAP suite of data tools (dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports) and how these tools can provide state policy makers with information to guide the development of state policies. The goals of SWEAP Mississippi are to integrate and align education and workforce programs, improve workforce participation rates and reduce the skill gap for middle-skill jobs.

Also in Mississippi, in Starkville, Dr. Mimmo Parisi, Director of the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) hosted Bryan in meetings with NSPARC staff. NSPARC serves as Mississippi’s data clearinghouse and provides state-of-the-art data linking and analytics. NSPARC will provide data services for SWEAP in Mississippi.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Andy and Bryan talked about SWEAP with leaders from the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Office of the Commissioner for Post-Secondary Education, the Department of Labor and Training including the Workforce Investment Office and the Labor Market Information Division, the Department of Education including Adult Basic Education, and the Community College of Rhode Island. Andy and Bryan met with Rhode Island’s SWEAP steering group and talked before approximately 30 individuals attending the Career Pathways Advisory Committee (CPAC) of the Governor’s Workforce Board. The CPAC includes representatives of state agencies, local providers, and other stakeholders who are helping to design career pathway programs in Rhode Island.

The goals of the Rhode Island SWEAP Initiative are to: improve the state’s ability to collect and use data; advance better data-driven decision making, including identifying and evaluating career pathways for gaps and relevance; and inform the Governor’s Real Jobs Rhode Island initiative and the development of the State Plan for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

In addition to Mississippi and Rhode Island, SWEAP is providing technical assistance in California and Ohio. Over 150 individuals have attended the initial round of in-state meetings. The assistance will continue until the end of 2016, and will also include the sharing of lessons learned among the four states, and with others as well. 

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Rhode Island, Mississippi

New State Projects Analyze Workforce Pipelines

  ·   By Christina Pena,

Wyoming and Rhode Island recently released the results of research supported by U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants. Although the grants were the first for both states, the projects are already showing how linking administrative data across education and wage records can inform workforce development.

Median earnings chart on Wyoming high school graduates

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Research & Planning Division, in Phase I of its research project, aimed to show how the labor market, economy and life choices influence the paths of young adults in Wyoming. Researchers focused on cohorts of high school students to track their postsecondary education, workforce participation and earnings during secondary school and years after exit (the full report covered 2006-2013). They extracted data from Wyoming’s departments of Education, Transportation, Workforce Services, and the National Student Clearing House (NSC). The project also included administrative data from the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage record systems of other states with which Wyoming has data sharing agreements. The state will eventually use its research to produce dashboards showing labor force outcomes. 

Several of the key findings confirm expectations about trends in Wyoming: 

  • For cohorts who remained in the state, they tended to change jobs less frequently and their earnings increased as they grew older;
  • More market instability appeared “to precede loss from employment,” but the authors recommend additional analysis to indicate whether such conditions are causing withdrawal from the labor market;
  • Cohorts who attended school while working tended to earn less than those who only worked;
  • Educational attainment may not be the most relevant factor influencing market outcomes (though the authors recommend that more variables be explored to fully understand this dynamic); and,
  • For high school students with disabilities, when compared to the overall student average, fewer had earnings in UI wage records, and they had a lower graduation rate.

Wyoming will continue this project, and plans to use additional data from the state’s Community College Commissions, the University of Wyoming, Workforce Investment Act trainees, Hathaway Scholarship awardees, and other programs.

Going forward, researchers want to focus on local economic development. They plan to examine more student  records linked to labor market outcomes to assess which groups of youth, further categorized by their level and type of postsecondary education (if any), are most likely to leave the state and under what economic conditions. They also suggest assessing additional data to discern particular patterns of service to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. The authors add that it will be necessary to have other states conduct analyses that draw on comparable administrative data, in order to have a high degree of confidence in understanding how certain conditions influence workforce outcomes.

Wyoming officials welcome feedback on their research methodology and conclusions.

Chart on earnings by field of study in Rhode Island

Rhode Island turned its WDQI-funded research into a series of charts accompanied by easy-to-read summaries that tell “data stories” about its College to Career Landscape. Researchers aimed to answer the following question: “How do the fields of study of recent graduates relate to their place in the state's employment landscape?”

Researchers reviewed data on workers who recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Community College of Rhode Island, and the relationship of their areas of study to the state’s current and future workforce demand. The analysis relied on data from the state’s Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, the Department of Labor and Training, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rhode Island’s research reveals a number of important trends and indicates several areas for possible program action. For example: 

  • Healthcare and social assistance employ a large segment of the state’s workers, have “decent average wages,” and are likely to make up the greatest number of new jobs, which could suggest the utility of increasing training and education in these fields.
  • Finding high-wage/high growth areas can reveal an economic gap where workforce capacity could be developed to bolster higher-wage industries in the state. The research found that projected growth and decent wages in industries such as manufacturing, professional, scientific, and technical services, are promising areas of focus for developing the “education-to-workforce pipeline.”

In future projects, Rhode Island researchers plan to incorporate more specific information on certificates, degrees, earnings, and occupations. To make the state more attractive to industries, they will further explore employer demand and the state’s “higher education pipeline” with the goal of generating more growth in higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs.

While Rhode Island and Wyoming have more research ahead, both projects are showing how analysis of administrative data can lead to a better understanding of how to align worker capabilities and education with workforce demand, and how to help certain groups and sectors improve their prospects within an environment of changing workforce supply and variable market conditions.


Posted In: Rhode Island, Wyoming, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

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
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