From February 7-9, more than 270 workforce advocates, employers, and community college leaders from 29 states traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in NSC’s annual Skills Summit.
The purpose of the Skills Summit is for participants to bring their expertise on education, training, and skills to Capitol Hill; and to advocate for policies that ensure every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper. They did just that.
An Expanded Network
The 2016 Skills Summit saw the greatest number and diversity of organizations participating thanks to eight national networks that signed on as Skills Summit National Partners: Business Leaders United, Commission on Adult Basic Education, National Youth Employment Coalition, National Council of La Raza, National Council for Workforce Education, Workforce Data Quality Campaign, National Fund for Workforce Solutions and Young Invincibles.
Action Oriented Learning to Advance a New Agenda
Summit attendees, including those from our National Partner networks, spent two days in plenary and concurrent sessions learning about the latest policy developments and opportunities across adult education, career and technical education, work-based learning, higher education, and more. These sessions prepared attendees to advance NSC’s new 2016 federal legislative agenda.
On Tuesday, Summit participants made over 200 visits with members of Congress and their staff, consulted with White House officials, and engaged with lawmakers on Twitter in record numbers. Participants asked their Senators and Representatives to endorse a bill, sponsor legislation, engage their colleagues, or take some other concrete step designed to advance our shared skills agenda in 2016.
Prior to the impactful visits to Capitol Hill, on Monday, Summit attendees met with top Congressional and Administration officials. Keynote speaker Senator U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus addressed attendees about the importance of CTE and support for short-term training. Kaine introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act in the Senate - legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. Kaine told the crowd, “When the thing is right, the time is right.” On the eve of the hill visits, Kaine really fired everyone up to meet with their lawmakers to advance career and technical education policy along with our full range of workforce and education policy asks.
Summit participants also met with agency leadership about federal implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act including Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor; Nisha Patel, Director of the Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Cheryl Keenan, Director of Adult Education and Literacy at the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education.
Celebrating a Movement
In addition to celebrating NSC’s 15th anniversary, we also honored a number of outstanding advocates at this year’s Skills Summit, including our Skills Champion – a coalition member whose exceptional organizing and advocacy efforts have moved the skills agenda forward in their state or in Washington D.C. NSC awarded the 2016 Skills Champion Award to Erick Ajax, Vice President and Co-Owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons and founding executive committee member of Business Leaders United, for his outstanding work to ensure our country’s policymakers invest, aggressively and effectively, in the skills of America’s workers.
Jerry Rubin of the JVS Boston was awarded the Social Butterfly Award. The award recognizes people and organizations that engage key stakeholders and build awareness of policy and programmatic solutions for meeting the demand for skills on social media. With hundreds of followers on Twitter, Jerry Rubin/JVS Boston keeps them updated on the collaborative’ s efforts, pressing topics in the local community, and national developments on workforce issues.
The Ohio delegation was given the State of Action Award. Thanks to the persistent advocacy efforts of the Ohio delegation, the state is now home to several policies and practices that help elevate and move forward workforce development wins. Whether it was through administrative and legislative achievements the Ohio delegation made sure their state was involved in these award winning actions.
The Taking Care of Business Award was given to Amy Lancaster, Director of Workforce Development/Public Policy at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. When it comes to engaging employers in workforce policy conversations, Amy takes care of business. Amy has been working with Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) to bring the employer voice into the workforce development policy discussion.
The Game Changer Award was given to Laura Rowley from Seattle Jobs Initiative for their work helping states use their SNAP employment and training programs to provide skill-building opportunities for participants.
Those Who Made it All Possible
A big thank you to the support of NSC’s funders – all of the policy analysis that occurs in the months before the Summit and helps us to ensure a rich experience for participants would not be possible without their continued support of NSC. Additional thanks belong to our 2016 Skills Summit sponsors: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Siemens Foundation, USA Funds, and WKF Giving Fund.
Looking Ahead to 2017!
We are already planning next year’s summit! The 2017 Skills Summit will be held February 5-7, 2017 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. If you would like to attend next year’s event, please contact Ashley Shaw.