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NSC’s new SkillSPAN will increase skills & job training opportunities for thousands in 25 states over next five years

  ·   By Andrew Bradley and Brooke DeRenzis
NSC’s new SkillSPAN will increase skills & job training opportunities for thousands in 25 states over next five years

Today, National Skills Coalition launches SkillSPAN (Skills State Policy Advocacy Network), a first-ever nationwide network of non-partisan coalitions that will bring skills and job training opportunities to thousands of people through policy changes in 25 states over the next five years.

SkillSPAN and NSC’s new Business Leaders United (BLU) state affiliate network will pass policies in the postsecondary education, workforce training, adult education, career and technical education, and safety net arenas to expand economic opportunities for workers and their families while boosting local business capacity.

We are launching this network at a critical time: skills training is a popular, bipartisan issue and many of the country’s governors ran on skills training as a critical plank in their education and economic platforms. SkillSPAN and BLU are poised to help these and other state leaders deliver on their skills training promises and address key economic challenges in their states.

SkillSPAN coalitions will include policy organizations, workforce advocates, community colleges, community-based organizations, businesses, unions, and others advocating for a shared agenda.

Ten state coalitions will join SkillSPAN in 2019, with an additional ten joining in 2020, and further growth in 2021. Fifteen states will have BLU affiliates by 2020. With an initial $3 million grant from Ballmer Group, NSC will provide grants to SkillSPAN coalitions and BLU state affiliates, along with an infrastructure to support cross-state learning and technical assistance.


Seizing an economic and political moment

Despite economic, political, and geographic differences, every state in the nation faces a common labor market challenge: jobs that require education and training beyond high school but not a bachelor’s degree make up the largest portion of the labor market; yet too few workers have access to training for these jobs, many of which pay family-supporting wages.

With unemployment at a record low and technology changing the way we work now and in the future, everyone who wants to build their skills – from people who are looking for a job to low-wage workers who want to upgrade their skills and take the next step in their career — should have the opportunity to do so. Training is important for people who want good jobs that can support their families, for businesses looking to adapt to continual industry changes, and for states whose economic growth and competitiveness depends on building a skilled and inclusive workforce.   

Across political parties and regions of the country, people have called on policy leaders to recognize this need and include skills training in education and jobs proposals. As governors and state legislators begin new terms this month, they are looking to respond.

SkillSPAN and the BLU affiliate network will provide capacity and infrastructure to seize these economic and political opportunities. In every statehouse, policymakers can support workers and businesses while strengthening the economy by investing in the skills of people – from the father who wants to train for a new career after being laid off to the young woman who wants to take on an apprenticeship instead of college debt.

As a national network, SkillSPAN will leverage the combined expertise of state coalition members and amplify their collective voices in state capitols across the nation.

 

Scaling what works for workers and business

SkillSPAN coalitions will advance policy changes that impact workers and businesses across a range of areas, including:

  • Protecting and increasing vital funding for successful skills training programs
  • Turning back efforts to impose work requirements in safety net programs and replacing them with polices to provide job training and supports to low‐income people, including those utilizing TANF, SNAP, and other income supports
  • Expanding apprenticeship and other forms of wage‐earning, work‐based learning, particularly for low‐income working adults and out‐of‐school youth
  • Making financial aid available to working people and creating new pathways into college programs for low‐skilled workers, along with support services
  • Helping states invest in sector partnerships so that participating companies—particularly small‐ and medium‐sized businesses— inform training and higher education efforts connected to their industry
  • Creating new opportunities for low‐wage workers with limited basic or English skills to acquire these skills in partnership with their employers, as well as local schools, community organizations, community colleges and unions
  • Expanding state data systems and publicly-available data tools so that policymakers and the public can know which programs place people in jobs and raise their incomes

Across these issues, SkillSPAN coalitions will work to ensure that policy changes advance racial equity in the workforce.

Inaugural coalitions

In 2019, coalitions in 10 states will join SkillSPAN. Despite a wide range of political and policy environments, these states share a need for comprehensive policies that secure a skilled workforce and a strong economic future for all residents. NSC has selected a nonprofit organization to lead each state coalition. The 2019 states and coalition lead organizations are:

  • California: California EDGE Coalition
  • Georgia: Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
  • Illinois: Chicago Jobs Council
  • Indiana: Indiana Institute for Working Families
  • Iowa: United Way of Central Iowa
  • Massachusetts: SkillWorks
  • Michigan: United Way for Southeast Michigan
  • North Carolina: North Carolina Justice Center
  • Tennessee: Complete Tennessee
  • Washington state

As they work to advance skills policies, SkillSPAN coalitions will leverage the voice of businesses in their states through NSC’s new BLU state affiliate network. In March 2019, National Skills Coalition will announce the members of that network in partnership with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. BLU is supported by NSC and National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and includes businesses from a range of industries who are working with local partners to train and hire residents for skilled jobs, or upskill their existing workforce, and who want policymakers to follow their lead and invest in workers’ skills. By working in partnership on shared agenda items, SkillSPAN coalitions and BLU affiliates will achieve policy wins for workers, businesses, and the economy.

Posted In: Massachusetts, Michigan, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington

NSC’s Congressional briefing highlights effective adult education and upskilling policies

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
NSC’s Congressional briefing highlights effective adult education and upskilling policies

It was standing-room-only for National Skills Coalition’s recent Congressional briefing on adult education and upskilling. More than 65 Congressional staff and other attendees packed a Senate briefing room to hear from state leaders about effective policy approaches for helping American adults to build skills and advance in the workforce.

NSC Director of Upskilling Policy Amanda Bergson-Shilcock kicked off the briefing with an overview of the issues. Amanda explained the crucial role of federal policy in creating “on-ramps” that enable adults with basic skill gaps to access educational opportunities that equip them for middle-skill, family-sustaining jobs.

Choices that Congress makes in the coming months as key legislation is reauthorized will affect how many adults are able to pursue upskilling opportunities and how successful they are able to be, she said. Reauthorization for several major federal investments -- the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Higher Education Act, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – can be strengthened to better support upskilling.

Amanda thanked Senator Jack Reed (RI) for his office’s assistance in arranging the briefing, and for his longtime advocacy as a champion for adult education. NSC is a supporter of Senator Reed’s proposed CTE for All Act, which would foster tighter connections between Perkins Act programs and adult education programs.

Next, Amanda shared highlights from NSC’s recent Foundational Skills in the Service Sector report. The report found that approximately 20 million service-industry workers have limited literacy or numeracy skills. While some companies are investing in upskilling opportunities for their current employees, strong public policies are vital in bringing these isolated examples to scale.

Attendees then heard from three state leaders with robust experience in supporting adult learners and talent development initiatives:

  • Anson Green, State Director, Adult Education and Literacy, at the Texas Workforce Commission
  • Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President for Adult Education at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and incoming Chair of the Executive Committee for the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education
  • Alex Hughes, Vice President for Talent Attraction and Retention at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce


Anson discussed the pioneering work done in Texas to bring a wide variety of education and workforce investments under one roof. He shared an illustration from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) that shows the numerous federal programs and investments that are being coordinated and braided together in the state. Anson also explored the important role of workforce data in evaluating performance outcomes and improving services to participants. A particular area of focus is better aligning Perkins Act postsecondary outcomes with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act performance outcomes.

(View NSC’s policy recommendations for Perkins reauthorization.)

Next, Reecie shared his perspective on the needs and opportunities for adult learners in Kentucky, including a 1-page fact sheet on Kentucky adult education. The state has implemented a range of interventions designed to help adults with basic skill gaps to regain their footing and pursue middle-skill credentials. A key issue, he said, is the “benefits cliff” that many participants face when trying to transition from public benefits to employment. Improving public benefits programs to allow individuals to make a more gradual transition could help more people pursue labor-market opportunities.

(View NSC’s policy recommendations for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.)

Finally, Alex explained why the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce sees talent development as an economic development issue. “Ten years ago, the number-one question from businesses considering a relocation to Nashville was about real estate,” she said. “Today, real estate is number four or five – and finding a skilled workforce is number one.”

That is one of the reasons the Chamber has prioritized involvement in education and workforce-related policy advocacy at the state and regional level, she said. Among its areas of focus are supporting Tennessee Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, which aims to help 55 percent of state residents attain a postsecondary credential by 2025.

(Learn more about the Nashville Area Chamber’s work in their workforce report, Strengthening the Middle Tennessee Region 2020: Building a Vital Workforce to Sustain Economic Growth and Opportunity, and their broader 2016 Vital Signs report.)

Both Anson and Reecie also delved into the issue of Integrated Education and Training (IET), a proven model for helping adults build basic skills such as reading and math while simultaneously training for a specific industry or occupation. Reecie discussed how his state is incorporating findings from the Accelerating Opportunity Kentucky (AO-KY) initiative into their broader services for adult learners.

Anson shared information about the widespread implementation of the IET model in Texas, and the two policy memos that the state has issued in recent months to help local adult education providers understand their options for implementing IET approaches. Both men emphasized the importance of IET and other contextualized programs that provide wrap-around support services to help adults persist and complete education and training programs.

Later this summer, NSC will be issuing a policy proposal related to career pathways for low-skilled workers under the Higher Education Act. Get a sneak peek at our thinking in the Upskilling section of our Skills for Good Jobs federal policy recommendations, published last November.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Kentucky, Tennessee, 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

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

President Proposes Two Years Free Community College, Technical Training Fund

  ·   By Angela Hanks & Kermit Kaleba
President Proposes Two Years Free Community College, Technical Training Fund

President Obama today announced two major proposals intended to increase access to high-quality skills training, including an initiative to make two years of community college education free for up to 9 million qualifying students, and new investments in technical training programs.

The President’s proposed “America’s College Promise” initiative would designate new federal funding to cover up to 75 percent of tuition costs for two years of community college, with states expected to contribute funds to ensure the full cost of tuition is covered for participating students. The program would be open to “responsible” individuals who are enrolled in qualifying programs on at least a half-time basis, maintain at least at least a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward program completion. Funds could be used to support enrollment in either academic programs that fully transfer to public four-year colleges and universities, or for occupational training programs with high graduation rates that lead to certificates or degrees in demand with employers. Participating states must also commit to maintaining support for current investments in higher education, improve coordination between secondary and postsecondary systems to reduce the need for remediation, and allocate at least some funding on the basis of performance rather than enrollment.

The administration estimates the program would lead to an average of $3,800 in tuition savings annually for as many as 9 million students if all states participate in the program.

The President is also proposing a new American Technical Training Fund that would support up to 100 innovative training programs at community colleges and other institutions designed to help low-wage workers gain the skills necessary for advancement in middle-skill occupations and industries. Building on lessons learned through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative, the proposed fund would support the implementation and expansion of programs that have strong employer partnerships, are structured to accommodate part-time work, and provide work-based learning and accelerated training opportunities.

The President will make the announcement at Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee. The administration’s community college proposal is modeled off of similar initiatives in Tennessee and Chicago. The Tennessee Promise program – set to begin this fall – will cover community college tuition for all high school seniors in the state beyond what is covered by Pell grants and other financial aid.

While the President’s proposal would make college a reality for millions of students, it does not in its current form extend the benefit to working people who are only able to attend school less than half-time while holding down a job and supporting their families.

Today’s announcement is one in a series of announcements of the President’s priorities for 2015, leading up to the State of the Union address on January 20. The President’s budget is due to be released two weeks after the address, and will contain more detailed information on the two proposals, including funding estimates. The America’s College Promise initiative is a legislative proposal, and requires approval by Congress. It is unclear whether the American Technical Training Fund is a legislative or executive proposal.

The announcement follows a year of action by the administration on job-driven training. During last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama directed Vice President Biden to conduct an across-the-board review of federal job-training programs that culminated in the summer release of the administration’s Job-Driven Training Action Plan. In addition to creating a number of new funding opportunities, including the Ready-to-Work grants serving the long-term unemployed, and the American Apprenticeship grants, the action plan introduced a job-driven checklist to guide administrative action on workforce development, including federal grant making.

Posted In: Higher Education Access, Tennessee

States adopt new policies to close the skills gap

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis

At least 15 states have enacted legislation in 2014 to close the skills gap. States increased access to career pathways, invested in job-driven training and sector partnerships, and set policies to coordinate activities and collect outcome data across education, workforce, and other programs.

Colorado and Iowa appropriated funds to support career pathway programs, while Alabama provided funding to local areas to align educational pathways with regional skills needs. Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee all created or expanded tuition assistance programs that will help occupationally-focused students move along career pathways.

In addition to funding career pathways, states made a range of investments in job-driven training and sector partnerships. Connecticut created the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which can be used to support workforce training. Iowa created an apprenticeship training program, and Wisconsin funded grants to technical colleges to reduce training program waitlists in high-demand fields. Rhode Island’s State Senate passed a resolution directing the community college system to review and expand programs that provide credentials recognized by the state’s in-demand industries.  

Connecticut also appropriated funding to help the long-term unemployed.  The funds will be used to expand state-wide the Platform to Employment program offering support services, training, and subsidized employment.

Finally, several states adopted policies to align workforce and education programs with the labor market and to measure the outcomes of these programs. Alabama, Idaho, and Oregon passed legislation directing state agencies and institutions to coordinate workforce and education programs around state skill needs. Indiana and Utah established systems to measure and report outcomes across agencies. Iowa and Minnesota funded a system to report educational and employment outcomes for different workforce programs while Kentucky and Maine passed legislation to require postsecondary institutions to report on their education and employment outcomes.

To hear more about the actions state legislatures took in 2014 to close the skills gap, and the opportunities and challenges that NSC members had in advancing these policies during the legislative sessions, watch our 2014 State Workforce Policy Round Up webinar.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Job-Driven Investments, Sector Partnerships, Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin

Grants supporting manufacturing announced.

On October 9, the Obama Administration announced $20 million in awards under the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multiagency effort to support regional industry cluster initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. The grants were awarded to 10 public-private partnerships made up of small and large business, colleges, nonprofits, and local stakeholders.  

Grants were awarded to clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.  It is estimated that the grantees will train as many as 1,000 workers, and will help nearly 650 companies leverage regional resources to create jobs nationwide. 

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.   Eight other federal agencies will provide technical assistance to grantees.  

This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an initiative designed by the interagency Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters (TARIC).

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington