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.