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.