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Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   

 

FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]

$3,078,720,000

$2,709,832,000

$1,629,522,000

-$1,080,310,000

WIOA Adult

$861,060,000

$815,556,000

$490,370,000

-$325,186,000

WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]

$1,374,019,000

$1,080,860,000

$615,485,000

-$465,375,000

WIOA Youth

$922,148,000

873,416,000

$523,667,000

-$349,749,000

Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants

NA

 

$671,413,000

$416,000,000

-$255,413,000

Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants

NA

$6,000,000

$0

-$6,000,000

Apprenticeship Grants

NA

$95,000,000

$89,829,000

-$5,171,000

DW National Reserve

 

$220,859,000

$117,000,000

-$103,859,000

Native American Programs

$51,795,000

$50,000,000

$49,905,000

-$95,000

Ex-Offender Activities

NA

$88,078,000

$77,911,000

-$10,167,000

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

$92,050,000

$81,896,000

$0

-$81,896,000

Youth Build

$87,147,000

$84,534,000

$84,373,000

-$161,000

Senior Community Service Employment Program

$454,499,494

$433, 535,000

$0

-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants

NA

$1,117,598,000

$950,000,000

-$167,598,000

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants

$649,287,000

$581,955,000

$485,849,000

-$96,106,000

Federal Work Study

NA

$1,093,997,000

$553,728,000

-$540,269,000

 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Appropriations Committees Release Final Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Omnibus; Workforce and Education Programs Largely Maintained

Late last night, Congressional appropriators released the final version of an omnibus spending package that would set final funding levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Congress is expected to vote on the bill later this week, bringing an end to an unusually long appropriations process and setting the stage what is expected to be a contentious FY 2018 process.

Overall, the Labor-HHS-Education section of the bill largely sustains or increases investments in federal workforce and education programs (see detailed chart below). The bill would increase funding for apprenticeship programs at the Department of Labor from $90 million in FY’16 to $95 million in FY’17, with language directing DOL to build on the agency’s ApprenticeshipUSA initiative and particularly to focus on expanding opportunities for women in apprenticeship. The Job Corps program, which provides training and education services to young adults, receives an increase of $15 million over FY’16 levels. The package also calls for the restoration of “year-round” Pell, which allows low-income students to access a second Pell award in a calendar years in order to accelerate their studies.

For most other programs, the bill maintains spending levels, including state formula grants under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), adult education grants under Title II of WIOA, and Perkins career and technical education (CTE) state grants. The bill does include some modest cuts to certain programs, including zeroing out funding for the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant program and $34 million in cuts to the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

Appropriators had delayed a final bill at the request of the incoming Trump Administration, voting in December on a stopgap bill that extended funding for federal operations until the end of April. The administration had pushed for significant cuts to FY 2017 spending, but ultimately Congress appears to have rejected most of the Administration’s proposals and instead focus on completing the current bill in order to avoid a potential government shutdown. It is unclear, though, whether this support will carry over into the FY 2018 appropriations process, where the President has suggested cuts of around 21 percent to the DOL budget and about 13 percent for Department of Education programs, including deep reductions in Pell Grant funding.

National Skills Coalition worked closely with other national organizations as part of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) to advocate for strong workforce and education investments, submitting a joint letter to the committees in February to encourage maintaining or increasing federal support. NSC also submitted organizational sign-on letters in November and December urging appropriators to make sure that workforce programs were protected from any potential cuts. We applaud Congressional leaders for sustaining our nation’s investments in skills, and we look forward to working with our national, state, and local partners to continue the fight for necessary funding in FY 2018.

Training and Employment Services

FY 2016 – Current Funding Levels

FY 2017 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017  – Omnibus

Difference

Department of Labor

 

 

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]

$2,709,832,000

$3,078,720,000

$2,709,832,000

-

WIOA Adult

$815,556,000

$842,376,000

$815,556,000

-

WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]

$1,241,719,000

$1,334,205,000

$1,241,719,000

-

WIOA Youth

$873,416,000

$902,139,000

$873,416,000

-

Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants

$680,000,000

NA

$671,413,000

-$8,587,000

Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants

$6,000,000

NA

$6,000,000

-

Apprenticeship Grants

$90,000,000

NA

$95,000,000

$5,000,000

Native American Programs

$50,000,000

$50,671,000

$50,000,000

-

Ex-Offender Activities

$88,078,000

NA

$88,078,000

-

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

$81,896,000

$90,052,000

$81,896,000

-

Youth Build

$84,534,000

$85,256,000

$84,534,000

-

Department of Education

 

 

Career and Technical Education State Grants

$1,117,598,000

NA

$1,117,598,000

-

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants

$581,955,000

$635,198,000

$581,955,000

-

 

    

Posted In: Federal Funding
House subcommittee holds hearing on examining federal support for job training programs

On April 4, the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing, Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs.

The witnesses were Zoe Baird (CEO and President, Markle Foundation), Douglas Besharov (Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy; Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council), and Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale (Institute Fellow, Urban Institute). You can read each witness’ prepared testimony here.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) framed the hearing as an attempt to evaluate how federal job training investments can target skills needed to fill the more than 5.5 million job openings across the country. Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) similarly described the goal as garnishing information on job training programs that work and what appropriators can do to ensure programs are effective.

Witnesses and members of Congress highlighted the importance of maximizing the ability of industry and sector partnerships to bring stakeholders together and impact systemic change, the success of work-based learning and apprenticeship as models to equip workers with in-demand skills connected to employer demand, and the role of the workforce system in engaging workers and business to meet the needs of both.

This hearing comes after the Trump Administration’s “skinny budget” for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 proposed approximately $2.5 billion in cuts from the Department of Labor’s (DOL) budget and $9 billion in cuts from the Department of Education.

Most federal programs – including job training programs funded by DOL and Department of Education – are currently being funded through a temporary stopgap known as a “continuing resolution” (CR), which largely maintains funding at prior year levels. The current CR was enacted in December, and runs through April 28th. There have been reports that the administration is pushing for further dramatic cuts to spending levels in any FY2017 spending bill passed after the expiration of the current CR.

National Skills Coalition joined with more than 40 other national organizations as part of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce in a letter to House and Senate Appropriators urging them to adequately fund workforce training and education programs in FY2018.

We will continue to monitor the FY2018 budget process and the appropriations process for both FY2017 and FY2018 and will continue to work with our national, state, and local partners to education policymakers on the vital role these investments play for industries and jobseekers across the country, and to reject cuts that would reduce our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy.   

Posted In: Federal Funding
White House announces focus in workforce development

To hear President Trump and administration officials discuss it, it seems like workforce education and training will be a major part of this administration’s domestic agenda. Recently, at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German and American companies, President Trump described workforce development and vocational training as “very important” and has said the U.S. should try to create 5 million new apprenticeships in the next five years. Ivanka Trump recently announced the launch of a taskforce on workforce development. The President has convened industry leaders to inform policy priorities through a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and both President Trump and Ivanka Trump have taken to social media to promote the issue.

In addition, Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, emphasized the importance of partnerships between the educational community, the business community, and the government in ensuring the success of career and technical education. And Vice President Pence committed to strengthening and expanding opportunities for career and technical training and apprenticeship across the country.

Finally, the Senate began Labor Secretary Nominee Alexander Acosta’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday. In his opening comments, he mentioned the importance of job training having a substantial positive impact on American workers, but noted a better effort must be made to align training with the skills employers demand.

Unfortunately, the proposals in the President’s “skinny budget” cut approximately $2.5 billion in funding from the Department of Labor (DOL) and $9 billion from the Department of Education. A more detailed version of the President’s budget is expected in May, meaning the Administration still has the opportunity to prioritize the training programs receiving praise from senior officials. With nearly $2 billion in cuts unaccounted for in the released version of DOL’s budget, though, bipartisan groups of Governors and practitioners are expressing concern that key workforce education and training programs may not receive the funding they need to meet demand and support local businesses.

It’s especially critical to invest in education and training while the economy is good – this creates a pipeline of skilled workers to support the growth of businesses and our economy. These investments also expand access for low-skilled workers to move into higher skilled (and better paying) positions. A recent NSC study  shows that businesses in nearly every state aren’t able to find the workers with the skills they need. At the same time, there are more low-skilled workers than there are low-skilled jobs available. This mismatch costs businesses money and workers opportunity.

Minority staff at the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations estimate that proposed cuts in the budget would result in a 35 percent decrease in funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the law governing workforce development activities. It was passed in 2014 with overwhelming bipartisan support, and adequate funding is key to state and local areas’ ability to deliver on Congress’ bipartisan mandate.

Under WIOA, local areas are required to implement – and the majority of funding goes to support – evidence-based  strategies, such as supporting sector partnerships, and investing in career pathways. Local areas are also required to more deeply align their work with the apprenticeship system – a key opportunity for meeting the President’s goal of 5 million more apprenticeships in this country. A failure to adequately invest would undermine these local and state activities and progress towards implementing new comprehensive plans to align employment and training programs with regional economic development strategies that benefit businesses and workers alike.

As the budget process for next year continues, the Administration and Congress have the chance to support the programs at the foundation of the President’s promise to create jobs. And there will be a robust chorus of advocates in states across the country making the call for them to do so and ready to jump into action when they do.    

Urge your Members of Congress to support workforce education and training programs in the next fiscal year.  

Posted In: Federal Funding
Trump Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint calls for steep cuts in training, education

Earlier today, President Trump released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget blueprint, also known as a “skinny” budget, outlining a set of proposals that would increase overall funding for defense programs while cutting approximately $54 billion in non-defense programs in the coming year. While the document is relatively  light on details – a full budget proposal is expected later this spring - the proposal contains significant cuts to the Departments of Labor and Education.

The blueprint calls for $2.5 billion in cuts to the Department of Labor, or about 21 percent below current funding levels. The proposal specifically identifies about $500 million in cuts through the elimination of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) – which is currently funded at around $434 million – and elimination of programs under the Bureau of International Labor Affairs and training grants under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The proposal does not provide clear guidance on where the remaining $2 billion in cuts would be made, but it indicates that there are likely to be major cuts to workforce and Wagner-Peyser Employment Service formula grants under WIOA, stating that more responsibility for these programs will be shifted to “States, localities, and employers.” The blueprint also indicates that some savings will be achieved through closing lower-performing Job Corps centers, though actual funding decreases are not specified.

Oppose these cuts by taking action!

Given that combined funding for WIOA Title I training grants and ES formula grants is roughly $3.4 billion, this suggests potential cuts of up to 50 percent to these critical programs. Coming on top of years of disinvestment – state formula grants for Title I of the Workforce Investment Act and WIOA have been cut by nearly 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2001 – these cuts, if enacted, would have devastating consequences on state and local workforce systems and would severely limit the ability of jobseekers and businesses to get the necessary skills to compete in today’s economy. It is particularly disappointing to see these cuts proposed after Congress overwhelmingly passed reauthorization of WIOA in 2014, and states and local communities have undertaken significant efforts to modernize their workforce and employment services in response to the new requirements of the law.

The blueprint also includes approximately $9 billion in cuts to the Department of Education, or 13 percent below current funding levels. The budget would apparently maintain current discretionary funding for the Pell Grant program, but would cut about $3.9 billion in unspent prior year funding. Adult education programs under WIOA Title II and state formula grants under the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act are not referenced, which would seem to suggest that these programs will be level funded in the more detailed budget proposal that will be released later this spring. Funding for some smaller ED programs aimed at supporting working adults and other low-income students, like the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program, TRIO programs, and Federal Work-Study is either eliminated or significantly reduced.

Other departments that would be cut include the Department of Health and Human Services, which would see a reduction of $15.1 billion or nearly 18 percent relative to current levels, including the elimination of the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) program; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which would be cut by $6.2 billion (13.2 percent), including the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes efforts to further reduce federal investments in job training, postsecondary education, and other human services programs. On Tuesday, NSC joined with more than 30 other national organizations as part of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce on a letter  to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney, strongly encouraging him to ensure that the final budget proposal rejects unnecessary cuts to workforce and education, and instead support meaningful investments in the skills of U.S. workers and businesses.

Workforce advocates have an opportunity to weigh in as well. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) have just released a “Dear Colleague” letter to the House appropriations subcommittee that will be overseeing final FY’18 funding decisions for Labor, Education, and HHS programs, and calls for increased funding for critical workforce programs.

Please take a moment to send a message to your Representative urging them to sign on to the Dear Colleague, and show their support for the vital work that workforce, education, and human services programs are doing across the country. 

 

Posted In: Federal Funding

U.S. Department of Labor announces America’s Promise Grants

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
U.S. Department of Labor announces America’s Promise Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $111 million in America’s Promise grants to 23 regional workforce partnerships to support tuition-free education and training for high-demand industries. The new four-year grants build on President Obama’s 2015 proposal to provide up to two years of free community college for qualifying students, and will support a range of sector-driven strategies, including work-based learning, classroom instruction, and competency-based education. The grants are expected to provide more than 21,000 US workers with the skills and credentials they need to enter into, or advance within, target occupations. Grantees are expected to leverage more than $57 million in other federal and non-federal dollars to support the implementation of these programs.

Grant recipients announced today include:

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham

Ala.

MiraCosta Community College District

Oceanside

Calif.

Delaware Technical Community College

Dover

Del.

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Jacksonville

Fla.

Brevard Workforce Development Board, Inc.

Rockledge

Fla.

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center

Peoria

Ill.

Tecumseh Area Partnership, Inc.

Lafayette

Ind.

United Way of Central Iowa

Des Moines

Iowa

Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Inc.

Wichita

Kan.

Montgomery College

Rockville

Md.

Grand Rapids Community College

Grand Rapids

Mich.

Southeast Michigan Community Alliance

Taylor

Mich.

City of Springfield

Springfield

Mo.

RFCUNY on behalf of CUNY OAA - CEWP

New York

N.Y.

Monroe Community College

Rochester

N.Y.

Worksystems, Inc.

Portland

Ore.

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

Cranston

R.I.

Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce

Memphis

Tenn.

Alamo Community College District

San Antonio

Texas

New River Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area Consortium

Radford

Va.

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Moorefield

W.Va.

Employ Milwaukee

Milwaukee

Wisc.

Northern Wyoming Community College District

Sheridan

Wyo.


National Skills Coalition applauds the Obama administration’s continued efforts to expand access to quality education and training as part of their Job-Driven Training plan, including $2 billion in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants that were released between 2011-2014, and more than $250 million in DOL grants to expand apprenticeship over the past two years.  These investments have helped tens of thousands of workers take advantage of new work opportunities while helping businesses across a range of industries develop talent pipelines that will support their growth and competitiveness. As we look forward to the 115th Congress and the beginning of the Trump administration in 2017, we hope that policymakers will expand on these important efforts, and ensure that every workers and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, Higher Education Access, Job-Driven Investments

Presidential memo addresses services and info for veterans

  ·   By Dominic Alhambra
Presidential memo addresses services and info for veterans
The White House released a Presidential Memorandum last week detailing best practices for education and training institutions serving veterans, members of the military, and their families. With 200,000 service members annually transitioning to further education or careers, it is important to provide veterans with reliable information about high-quality postsecondary education.
 
The Memorandum establishes the Federal Interagency Working Group, which aims to coordinate and execute policy proposals to:
 
  • Develop a plan to establish data linkages across education and training agencies to measure veterans' education and employment outcomes
  • Enhance efforts on credentialing and licensing for service members
  • Implement evaluations of the most effective methods for career and education counseling
  • Expand apprenticeships and industry-recognized credentials within the military

The data linkage plan enables potential Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries to view information about the career experiences of past participants before and after education programs; compare outcome information between beneficiaries and eligible non-participants; and increase the transparency of information about educational attainment, debt levels, and loan default rates, overall presenting a pathway to best utilize the Post-9/11 GI Bill for the benefit of service members and taxpayers.
 
The Working Group's focus on implementing military apprenticeship programs will strengthen the ability of service members to obtain skills and credentials during and after military service. These enhanced apprenticeship policies will transform the connections between military training and apprenticeship, education, and transition activities into industry-recognized credentials.
 
Within the next four months, the Working Group will fully establish a plan for the implementation of these policies.
 
*This post was previously published on Workforce Data Quality Campaign's website
Posted In: Federal Funding
DOL announces $50.5 million in Apprenticeship State Expansion Grants

On October 21st, Department of Labor announced $50.5 million in State Expansion Grants under the ApprenticeshipUSA Initiative. The 18-month grants, ranging from $700,000 to $2.7 million, were awarded to 37 grantees across the country.

Grantees are state projects that bring together stakeholders across the apprenticeship system – intermediaries, industry, education providers, community based organizations, etc. – to develop innovative system reforms to increase the use of apprenticeship as a training strategy. States are tasked with integrating workforce and education systems, building capacity to conduct outreach to new sectors not traditionally using apprenticeship and to populations underrepresented in the current system, and build on and develop practices to increase demand for apprenticeship and availability of apprenticeship opportunities.

The State Expansion Grants represent the final set of investments supported by a $90 million appropriation for apprenticeship in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill.  DOL had previously released $10.4 million in state Accelerator grants in June 2016, and $20.4 million in intermediary and equity technical assistance contracts to national organizations late last month.

It is unclear whether there will be further funding to support the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative next year. The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed an additional $100 million in FY2017 to build on this year’s investments; the House did not include additional funding in their version of the FY2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill. Congress approved a short-term continuing resolution in early October that lasts through December 9th, so final decisions on FY 2017 funding will be made once lawmakers return following the November election. National Skills Coalition supports continued funding for apprenticeship for youth and adults and other key education and workforce programs, and we look forward to working with the appropriations committees to ensure that investments in skills are a priority in the coming year.

States and Territories with projects under this grant are listed below:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
Posted In: Work Based Learning, Federal Funding
Department of Labor solicits proposals for national equity intermediary contracts

On July 27, DOL released a solicitation for proposals for $7.5 million in contracts to be awarded to national equity intermediaries or “Opportunity partnerships.” DOL anticipates awarding 3-5 contracts which will be for 1 year of work with the option to renew for up to 4 additional years.

The contracts are intended to increase representation of women, people of color, and people with disabilities within Registered Apprenticeship, with DOL intending to award at least one contract to address the needs of each of these target populations. Contractors are able to target, within these populations, the needs of youth, low-income workers, Limited English Proficient, Immigrants or any other groups the contractor identifies. Contractors must be able to evidence industry expertise and national scope of the equity intermediary.

To be eligible, contractors must –

  1. Engage with partners such as employers, labor-management organizations, community based organization, educational providers, and the workforce development system to form “opportunity partnerships” at either the national or regional level;
     
  2. Create and share tools that increase access, entry and retention of underrepresented populations in Registered Apprenticeship;
     
  3. Provide technical assistance to sponsors of programs with the goal of helping these programs develop plans to improve diversity and inclusion in their programs and among program graduates;
     
  4. Work with other DOL initiatives, such as ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERs, a sector-based network of apprenticeship leaders, to support the diversification of apprenticeship programs across the country and across industries.


Contractors and Opportunity partnerships will be required to show increases to the percentage of individuals from their target population entering pre-apprenticeship or preparatory training, the percentage of apprentices entering  a Registered Apprenticeship Program, an increase in the number of sponsors of programs who are committed to expanding equity among apprenticeship programs, and the percentage of new apprentices who receive supportive services to support entrance and retention in apprenticeship programs.

In the solicitation, DOL requires applicants to detail how their work would align with regulations in 29 CFR 30, rules covering Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeship. DOL is currently finalizing these rules, with an anticipated release date this fall, and NSC submitted comments to the Employment and Training Administration during comment period last year. These regulations are intended to update the regulations for the first time since 1978, and NSC recommended that updates include alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and additional guidance for sponsors on the selection of Apprentices. 

Posted In: Work Based Learning, Sector Partnerships, Federal Funding
House Appropriations Committee passes FY2017 Labor-HHS bill

On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 by a 31-19 vote.

Unlike the bipartisan Senate bill marked up last month, the House bill funds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I Adult and Youth programming at current FY2016 levels; the Senate bill cut those programs by $33.5 million and $35.4 million respectively. The House version would also increase the state dislocated worker formula grant by $20 million relative to current funding levels, but makes cuts of nearly $90 million to the dislocated worker national reserve.

The Committee Report explains that this reduction of funding for the Dislocated Worker National Reserve is in part because DOL had used this fund in past years to support the Job-Driven Training and Sector Partnership grant programs. The Report criticizes the use of these funds to support these grant programs,  since the Administration had included funding for the programs in budget request and Congress had explicitly not funded those items. Even if the final FY2017 appropriations bill does not include this cut, the Committee Report language signals that we may see additional Congressional scrutiny for DOL discretionary grants, perhaps even H-1B grants, moving forward.

The House bill also leaves out funding for apprenticeship included in the FY2016 bill at $90 million and in the FY2017 Senate Labor-HHS bill at $100 million. Committee Report language criticizes the Employment and Training Administration for not releasing more programmatic data about the use of their FY2016 funds. While this lack of data is in part because ETA has only released the bulk of these funds within the past few months, this criticism is further evidence of Congressional scrutiny of Administrative grant programs. While the Senate does not seem to have the same concerns voiced by the House Committee, Senators Murray and Hatch have introduced the Effective Apprenticeships to Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, which would address the lack of data about which the House raises concerns. Under the EARNS Act,  DOL would be required to engage an outside entity to evaluate the effectiveness of apprenticeship programs and the success DOL has had in meeting the goals of each of the provisions in the bill, including increasing employment, the number of workers attaining postsecondary credentials, the return on investment of all funding mechanisms, and longitudinal outcomes for participants.

The House Labor-HHS bill, like the Senate version, would fund Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants at FY2016 levels.

Adult education state grants under WIOA Title II and career and technical education state grants under the Perkins Act are level-funded. However, the House bill does not include the restoration of “year-round Pell” that was included in the Senate bill, and makes a cut of approximately $1.3 billion in funding to the overall Pell program, which is not expected to impact maximum grant levels for the coming academic year but would reduce the amount of overall funding available for Pell in future years. At the subcommittee and full committee markups, Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced an amendment that would reinstate year-round Pell, consistent with the Senate’s Labor-HHS bill. The Subcommittee and full committee voted against including the amendment, on party lines, though Subcommittee Chairman Cole (R-OK) acknowledged this issue would likely resurface during bicameral negotiations later in the appropriations process.

National Skills Coalition appreciates the committee’s efforts to maintain WIOA formula funding at current year levels, especially as states and local areas continue with implementation of the law, though we do not support the proposed cuts to the national reserve. We are deeply disappointed by the committee’s cuts to apprenticeship grants, and we believe the committee has missed a significant opportunity to expand access to postsecondary skills and credentials by failing to adopt the Senate’s proposal to restore year-round Pell.  

The House and Senate are will recess July 15 through Labor Day, September 5, for the National Conventions and summer recess.  FY 2017 begins October 1, 2016, so Congress must pass legislation to fund the government by September 30.  Given the relatively limited time left on the legislative calendar, it is unlikely that Congress will be able to complete work on a final Labor-HHS bill, and so it is likely that lawmakers will need to pass at least a short-term continuing resolution (CR) in order to continue federal government operations until after the November elections. The House Freedom Caucus has proposed a six month CR that would extend funding at FY 2016 levels until March 2017, which would allow final FY 2017 funding decisions to be made by the next administration and Congress. House appropriators and leadership have been cool to this approach. There are some reports, however, that Senate Republicans may support such a move as well. While extending funding through a long-term CR would likely avoid any significant funding cuts for education and workforce programs in the short term, it would add to the uncertainty around future funding levels and in particular make it difficult for states and local areas to implement key workforce strategies outlined in their WIOA state plans. 

Advocates should weigh in with their members of Congress to educate them on the importance of skills investments, and urge them to push for full funding of key education and workforce programs as part of the final FY 2017 appropriations package. National Skills Coalition will continue to monitor the process and provide updates to the field as new information becomes available. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Work Based Learning, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
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