Michigan has recently announced a new $1 million investment that will drive greater collaboration between workforce development and adult education partners across the state. The funding will support more widespread adoption of the Integrated Education and Training (IET) model, a proven strategy to equip adults with foundational skills gaps to meet local businesses’ talent needs.
A two-pronged effort: New funding and policy guidance
Local workforce boards will be receiving the new investment from the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) via funding formula. The source of the funds is the WIOA Title I Governor’s Reserve, more commonly referred to as WIOA discretionary funds or the 15% set-aside.
Simultaneously with the roll-out of the funding, TIA has released a new policy directive for both WIOA Title I workforce and Title II adult education providers. The directive will help program administrators by providing concrete guidance about the state’s requirements for IET and recommended tools to help them develop IET programs. National Skills Coalition helped to inform the development of this policy directive.
In particular, the directive:
- Defines the kinds of institutions that may offer an IET program -- such as nonprofit education and training providers -- and clarifies that it is acceptable for two or more organizations to work in partnership to provide IET
- Encourages providers that are implementing IET programs to co-enroll participants in WIOA Title I and II services as appropriate
- Requires that IET programs be part of a regionally or locally defined career pathway that is business-driven, aligned to the skill needs of target industry sectors, and leads to industry-recognized credentials
- Strongly encourages, but does not require, IET programs to lead to a recognized postsecondary credential
- Provides a table demonstrating ways in which various funding sources can support IET, including WIOA, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
- Includes a lengthy appendix with links to resources for developing and funding IET programs and career pathways
A win for business and workers alike
Both workers and businesses in Michigan will benefit from the new Integrated Education and Training investment and guidance. Given the state’s tight labor market, businesses will particularly benefit from the opportunity to help shape talent pipelines that will prepare new workers for in-demand jobs.
Workers themselves will benefit because IET is a powerful mechanism for helping adults with reading, math, or spoken English gaps to build their skills and qualify for in-demand jobs. Overall, there are approximately 1 million working-age Michiganders who lack key foundational skills and could benefit from opportunities to build their skills.
More specifically, there are approximately 30,000 Michigan residents who have already made the pro-active choices to upskill themselves by enrolling in some type of Title II-funded adult education program. However, in Michigan as in other states, only a relatively small fraction of those individuals is enrolled in an IET program specifically (typically because such programs are not available in their locality). The new guidance and funding are expected to spur broader adoption of IET by providers and regions of the state that have not previously offered such programs, and thus improve the availability of IET to adult learners across Michigan.
How employers will benefit
Businesses benefit from IET when they are able to influence the way that IET programs are designed in their local communities, and in Michigan they will be invited to do just that. When employers provide direct input to the instructors and administrators who are developing an IET program, it helps to ensure that participants will be acquiring the exact skills and credentials that are in-demand in the local labor market.
The new guidance states that training providers should draw on input from employers via the Michigan Industry Cluster Approach (MICA), local industry associations or chambers of commerce, or other means. (The MICA program is Michigan’s investment in sector partnerships, which NSC previously profiled in our Sector Partnerships 50-state scan.)
What support are providers receiving to help them implement IET?
In addition to the information provided in the policy guidance, Michigan adult education and workforce development stakeholders have also received professional development training on IET. Two events coordinated by TIA in Fall 2018 brought adult education frontline staff and program administrators together with MichiganWorks! administrative staff for in-depth training on IET models and related implementation issues.
Presenters for these training sessions included TIA personnel as well as staff from the nonprofit National College Transition Network at World Education (World Ed). World Ed has worked with adult educators around the country who are implementing IET, and profiled eight such programs in their report Implementing Integrated Education and Training Programs in Diverse Contexts.
How can I advocate for greater investment in IET in my state?
- Encourage your state to follow Michigan’s lead in investing WIOA Title I discretionary funds in IET
- Review your state WIOA plan to see how IET is being implemented already, and advocate with your state workforce board or governor’s office to deepen the work through additional activities or investments
- Use NSC’s IET State Policy Toolkit to borrow sample language for your state to use in developing its own administrative or legislative policy that goes beyond federal WIOA requirements. (Not sure if your state already has such a policy? Check out our IET 50-state Scan).
NSC and World Ed’s provision of technical assistance for this project was supported by a grant from Walmart. The opinions and ideas expressed in this blog post are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Walmart.