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New report makes the case for partnerships between businesses and community colleges

In today’s economy, the demand for skilled workers is greater than ever before—with approximately 80 percent of jobs requiring candidates to have some form of education or training beyond the high school level. However, employers across the country in in-demand industries are not exclusively looking to hire individuals with four-year degrees. In fact, over half of all jobs available today are “middle skill”, meaning they require training beyond high school but not a college degree.

In an effort to connect more individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the labor market, employers across a range of industries have been partnering with community college leaders, community-based organizations, workforce development boards (WDBs) and a range of other stakeholders to remove barriers to success and provide flexible career pathways for millions of Americans. These collaboration models, often referred to as sector partnerships, can lead to the increased availability of up-to-date curriculum, professional development, and support services—including transportation, child care, and basic skills instruction—for individuals looking to build marketable skill sets.

Despite the value of these partnerships, Congress has not invested in them at a scale that would sustain economic competitiveness since the expiration of the TAACCCT grant program in FY2014. In a new publication, National Skills Coalition calls on Congress to consider increasing the federal investment in sector partnerships—specifically in the context of a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

Additionally, the paper urges Congress to consider supplementing targeted grants for industry partnerships with other policy initiatives, such as those embodied in NSC’s Community College Compact—in order to truly make higher education work for students of all ages and backgrounds. This new publication is also consistent with the proposals highlighted in our Skills for Good Jobs Agenda—which was released in 2016 and updated earlier this year.

The paper makes the case for this proposal by detailing the history of bipartisan support for community college-industry partnerships, describing the positive impact they have on students and employers, and highlighting effective industry partnerships in three states, including:

  • North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative (NBRITI) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    • NBRITI is a partnership between ExxonMobil and Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) that provides North Baton Rouge residents with access to an intensive, short-term training program designed to fast-track them to success in welding, pipefitting, or the electrical trades.

  • M-Powered in Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • M-Powered is an award-winning training program that prepares Minnesotans for manufacturing careers. This program—which was formed by the Precision Metalforming Association, Hennepin Technical College and a community-based organization known as HIRED—primarily serves the unemployed, underemployed and veterans.  

  • Mopar Career Automotive Program (CAP) in Sugar Grove, Illinois
    • Waubonsee Community College in Illinois joined forces with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the National Coalition of Certification Centers to establish a Mopar Local CAP training site. This program provides advanced training to students and prepared them to work as Level 1 Automotive Technicians upon graduation.


Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota
Community college leaders from 10 states endorse fundamentals of NSC’s Community College Compact in letters to Senate HELP Committee

On July 16, 2018, leaders of 10 community college systems across the country—including those in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia—sent letters to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, urging them to modernize federal higher education policy to better reflect the needs of today’s community college students. The letters emphasize the importance of adopting a job-driven Community College Compact—a set of policy proposals developed by National Skills Coalition with the input of a range of stakeholders; including academic institutions, employers, community-based organization and workforce development boards.

In today’s economy, 80 percent of all jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training—a reality that has led to an influx of individuals enrolling in the higher education system with a different set of objectives than first-time, full-time students. Community colleges serve approximately 9 million students every year of all ages and backgrounds; most of whom can be classified as non-traditional. These individuals often work full or part time, are parents to dependent children, and/or fall in the age range of 28-40.

Given the significant role they play in preparing students for the workforce, community college leaders took the opportunity to outline their shared priorities and urge federal lawmakers to:

Eliminate the bias against working learners in need of federal financial aid

As our economy continues to change, more skilled workers are needed today than ever before. Approximately 80 percent of all jobs require some form of education or training, and more than 50 percent of jobs can be classified as “middle-skill”—meaning they call for more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree. As a result, many community colleges are aiming to increase access to high quality, short-term programs that lead to in-demand credentials. However, most federal financial aid available today is reserved for students who are enrolled in programs of study that are at least 600 clock hours over 15 weeks—an outdated policy that fails to account for the training needs of individuals in our 21st century economy.

Therefore, community college leaders urged lawmakers to consider legislation—such as the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 206) led by Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH)—that would expand Pell grant eligibility to students enrolled in employer-approved programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over 8 weeks.

Make higher education and workforce outcomes data comprehensive and transparent

Since higher education is becoming more closely linked with finding success in the labor market, data about the outcomes of postsecondary programs should be available to students, parents, employers and policymakers. However, as community college leaders noted in their letters, existing legal restrictions on the collection of student-level data continue to hinder the accessibility of this important information.

To help provide consumers with better data and relieve institutions of duplicative reporting requirements, community college administrators called for action on the College Transparency Act (S. 1121, H.R. 2434). Introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Mitchell (R-MI) and Polis (D-CO), this bipartisan bill aims to establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student level data network administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), to which colleges would be able to safely and easily report their data. The data would then be available as a decision-making tool for current and prospective students—making it easier for individuals to improve their lives through education and training.

Ensure the success of today’s college students by strengthening support services

Due to the diversity of the student populations they serve, community college leaders recognize the growing importance of support services such as career counseling, childcare and transportation assistance. While states and higher education administrators across the country are working hard to implement career pathway models that provide nontraditional students with the services they need to succeed in the postsecondary education system, their efforts receive little support at the federal level.

To address this issue, community college leaders called for the consideration of the Gateway to Careers Act (S. 2407)—legislation introduced by Senator Hassan (D-NH), along with Senators Kaine (D-VA), Shaheen (D-NH) and Reed (D-RI). This bill would make federal funding available on a competitive basis to institutions that are working in partnership to serve students experiencing barriers to postsecondary access and completion.

Provide targeted funding for valuable partnerships between community colleges and businesses

Community college leaders work with industry stakeholders every day to provide high-quality training and academic instruction to future workers through sector partnerships. However, Congress has not invested in these partnerships partnerships at a scale that would sustain economic competitiveness since the expiration of the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program in FY 2014. The purpose of the TAAACT grant program, which allocated $2 billion in funding to states from FY 2011-2014, was to increase the capacity of community colleges to address the challenges of today’s workforce through job training for adults and other nontraditional students.

Due to the proven impact of community college-business partnerships, community college leaders called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would increase the resources available for these collaboration models —such as the Community College to Career Fund Act (S. 2390). Introduced by Senators Duckworth (D-IL), Smith (D-MN), Kaine (D-VA) and Feinstein (D-CA), this bill would authorize competitive grant funding, allowing academic institutions and businesses to work together to deliver valuable educational or career training programs to students and workers.

The voices of these and other community college leaders across the country are undeniably important, as Congress looks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act for the first time since 2008. While the House and Senate have not passed Higher Education Act legislation this Congress, action is expected early next year. To view the letter, click here.

Posted In: Higher Education Access, Sector Partnerships, Adult Basic Education, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia
Representatives Mitchell and Ryan introduce BUILDS Act

On February 6th, Representatives Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), introduced bipartisan legislation, the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act (HR4942), that would support grants to industry partnerships in transportation, construction, energy, and other infrastructure industries. The grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in consultation with the Departments of Transportation, Energy, and other federal agencies, would allow local partnerships to develop work-based learning programming to develop a diverse pipeline of skilled workers. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Senate version of BUILDS in 2017. 

Last summer the administration released a set of  infrastructure principles  that included a goal of training one million new apprentices over two years. The President included a call for infrastructure investments in his State of the Union earlier this year, however, without reiterating the link between that investment and developing a pipeline or workers. 

BUILDS Act would set aside funding from a Congressional infrastructure package for workforce development. Funding would be used to train workers needed to help businesses in targeted industries grow and maintain the workforce necessary to keep up with demand, while also ensuring that a diverse range of workers could access the training and credentials needed to find sustainable, family-supporting jobs in these fields. Find more details about the BUILDS Act here

Even before new investments, businesses in infrastructure face intense labor shortages because of impending retirements, a lack of diversity in the workforce, and overall skill shortages in growth industries. According to a report by the Departments of Education and Labor, there are 68 percent more projected job openings in infrastructure jobs over the next five years than there are students training for these jobs and According to a member survey conducted by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, its members poised to lose out on close to $200 million in revenues this year due to unfilled technical jobs.

National Skills Coalition applauds Representatives Mitchell and Ryan for their leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working to working to advance the BUILDS Act as part of broader efforts to enhance our nation’s infrastructure. 

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Federal Funding
Congressional Democrats Highlight Skills Training as Part of “Better Deal”

Congressional Democrats today released details of a new messaging campaign in advance of the 2018 elections that will highlights tax incentives for employer-based training while also boosting federal investments in apprenticeship and public-private partnerships.

The “Better Deal” campaign being rolled out this week will focus on a range of proposals, including efforts to increase federal support for infrastructure, reduce health care costs, and support family leave policies. The campaign also places significant emphasis on the idea of creating up to 10 million full-time jobs, in part by helping U.S. workers get access to skills and credentials that will support career advancement.

The materials released today emphasize three major policy ideas on skills:

  • Expanding registered apprenticeship and work-based learning, specifically by doubling the federal investment in apprenticeship. Congress has appropriated $95 million to support registered apprenticeship expansion as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 omnibus spending package approved in May, though the House appropriations committee recently passed an FY’18 spending bill that would eliminate apprenticeship funding next year.
  • Providing a new tax credit for employers who hire and train new workers. This proposal would provide an unspecified tax credit to employers who hire and train new workers, so long as those workers are being paid a good wage and retain full-time employment with the business for a set period of time.
  • Creating a network of partnerships between businesses and career and technical education programs, including at community colleges. The proposal suggests that these investments will include both sector partnerships authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and other partnerships with community and technical colleges and other training providers.


The ideas outlined in the Better Deal agenda are aligned with many of the proposals in National Skills Coalition’s Skills for Good Jobs paper released last November, particularly the focus on work-based learning and expanding partnerships between business and other stakeholders. We applaud Congressional Democrats for their support for these critical investments in skills, and we look forward to working with Congress and the Trump administration to advance policies that will help workers and businesses stay competitive in today’s economy.

 

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Work Based Learning
Kaine, Portman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Infrastructure Workforce

On July 20, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act, that would support grants to industry partnerships in transportation, construction, energy, and other infrastructure sectors. The grants, which would be administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in consultation with the Departments of Transportation, Energy, and other federal agencies, would allow local partnerships to develop work-based learning programming, such as apprenticeships, that help workers and businesses get the skills they need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

The BUILDS Act coincides with strong political interest in infrastructure investments. As National Skills Coalition highlighted in our recent issue brief, “Building America’s Infrastructure Workforce,” both President Trump and Senate Democrats have released plans to incentivize or support up to $1 trillion in new funding for construction and related projects, investments that could lead to as many as 11 million new jobs. President Trump also designated an “Infrastructure Week” earlier this year, during which the administration set a goal of infrastructure investment leading to one million new apprentices in two years, and signed an executive order on July 19th establishing the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure.

Even before new investments, businesses in infrastructure face intense labor shortages because of impending retirements, a lack of diversity in the workforce, and overall skill shortages in growth industries. According to a report by the Departments of Education and Labor, there are 68 percent more projected job openings in infrastructure jobs over the next five years than there are students training for these jobs and According to a member survey conducted by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, its members poised to lose out on close to $200 million in revenues this year due to unfilled technical jobs.

The BUILDS Act would help businesses in targeted industries grow and maintain the workforce necessary to keep up with demand, while also ensuring that a diverse range of workers could access the training and credentials needed to find sustainable, family-supporting jobs in these fields. The bill is consistent with the broader recommendations outlined in NSC’s Skills for Good Jobs agenda released last November.

The BUILDS Act would support implementation grants of up to $2.5 million over three years – and renewal grants of up to $1.5 million - to partnerships comprised of multiple employers in a target industry, education or training providers, labor organizations, local workforce boards, and other stakeholders where appropriate. Partnerships would be required to carry out business engagement activities that support the development of short- and long-term talent pipelines, including:

  • Assistance in navigating the registration process for registered apprenticeship;
  • Connecting businesses and education providers for development of classroom curriculum to complement on-the-job learning;
  •  Serving as employers of record for participants in work-based learning programs for a transitional period;
  • Training managers and front-line workers to serve as mentors to work-based learning participants; and
  • Helping businesses recruit individuals for work-based learning, particularly individuals being served in the workforce system or by other human service agencies.


Partnerships would also provide support services to ensure participant success in work based learning. These services would be divided between three stages:

  • Pre-employment: prior to a work-based learning participant entering employment, the members of the partnership would provide support and training necessary to ensure the worker was prepared to enter a work-based learning or apprenticeship program. At this stage, the partnership may provide skills training, work attire and tools necessary for the work site, wrap around services such as childcare and transportation and job placement assistance;
  • Early employment: During the first six months of the participant’s connection to the employer, the partnership would provide continued support to ease the transition for both the worker and the business. For example, a partnership could serve as an employer of record for a transitional period and provide subsidized wages from grant funds, as well as provide continuing case management and support services, mentoring, and training necessary to ensure the participant’s continued connection to the program; and
  • Continuing employment: after the participant is on-boarded to the company, the grant recipient would provide at least 6 months of continuing support necessary to ensure participants are able to succeed in work-based learning programs.


Partnerships would focus on apprenticeship and other work-based learning programming during which workers earn wages while obtaining specific occupational skills and credentials along a career pathways in key industries that help advance workers into higher-paying jobs.

National Skills Coalition applauds Senators Kaine and Portman for their leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working to working to advance the BUILDS Act as part of broader efforts to enhance our nation’s infrastructure. 

Posted In: Work Based Learning, Transportation, Sector Partnerships

Briefing on infrastructure illuminates the need for skills

  ·   By Jessica Cardott
Briefing on infrastructure illuminates the need for skills

On June 14th, the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing in conjunction with Business Leaders United and National Skills Coalition called “Building America’s Infrastructure Workforce.” The briefing explored how the administration’s investment in infrastructure initiatives would create millions of new jobs for Americans who are currently out of work, underemployed, or seeking higher wages. The policy recommendations discussed in the briefing can be found here.

Senator Baldwin, one of the four CTE Caucus co-chairs, opened the briefing with comments on the importance of investing in sector partnerships and apprenticeship in in-demand industries.

Industry leaders and Congressional support

BLU brought together two industry-led workforce partnerships to share best practices and policy recommendations to support workforce development in infrastructure. Dawn Pratt, from The Walbec Group, and Mark Kessenich, from WRTP/Big STEP. The Walbec Group is a family of companies that provide professional infrastructure construction and engineering services.  Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership / Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIG STEP) helps Dawn’s companies run work-based learning programs and develop a skilled pool of construction workers for The Walbec Group’s projects.

Pat Steele, the Site Director for Central Iowa Works and Dr. Matt Bruinekool, a consultant at Master Builders of Iowa completed the panel. Central Iowa Works is a regional sector partnership that has helped local businesses, including those with which Matt works, meet workforce demands by expanding populations of workers with access to training to get the skills necessary for the transportation logistics and distribution jobs in central Iowa.

NSC’s Senior Federal Policy Analyst Katie Spiker facilitated the briefing.

Sector partnership and work-based learning, demystified

The panelists shared how employers and other stakeholders are partnering to develop workforce pipelines in infrastructure sectors and why these partnerships have become vital to their success. Both employers on the panel emphasized the importance of their partnerships with the regional sector partnerships in their area. Dawn described the importance of being able to reach out to just one entity, Mark’s organization, when her companies need new workers or when she was developing training programs and needed to work with community colleges, unions or other stakeholders in the community. Matt added that Pat’s organization provides training before workers were on the job as well as support services once workers were employed, making it possible for his employers to increase productivity and be confident in the skills and retention of their workers.

Both employers also emphasized the importance of the partnerships connecting workers with supportive services. Pat described his organization’s provision of transportation services to new workers, a service that ensures workers can make it to their worksites.

Mark emphasized that while these services are vital to the retention of good workers and continued productivity for WRTP/Big Step’s business partners, work-based learning programming and support services can be expensive. He emphasized the importance of Congressional investments in current job training programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and including investment in workforce development in any upcoming Congressional infrastructure bill.

Together, they started a dialogue about the benefits of investing in human capital and how federal policy can support these innovative strategies.

Exposure and reach

Representatives from more than a dozen Congressional offices attended the briefing. While in DC, Pat and Matt met with Senator Ernst’s office about the importance of supporting workforce training and education programs and including these priorities in upcoming infrastructure legislation. The panelists also took a meeting with the Department of Transportation Senior Program Advisor, Marilyn Shazor, to explain how they have used sector partnerships to fill skilled positions in the industry.

President Trump visited Dawn and Mark’s home state of Wisconsin the day before the briefing to talk about jobs. In response to this visit and the President’s previous call to drastically cut federal investments in job training and education, Dawn and Mark spoke with the Washington Post about their reliance on federal investments to support infrastructure workforce pipelines. 

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Career and Technical Education, Work Based Learning, Iowa, Wisconsin, Business Leaders United
President Trump Executive Order Calls for Apprenticeship Expansion, directs federal agencies to propose elimination of “ineffective” workforce training programs

Earlier today, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” and announced a new initiative to expand apprenticeship in the U.S. The proposal would provide industry associations, unions, and other stakeholders the flexibility to develop standards for "industry-recognized apprenticeships" (that would complement the existing registered apprenticeship system).

The EO directs the Secretary of Labor, in cooperation with the Secretaries of Commerce and Education, to consider proposing new regulations to support the expansion of industry-recognized apprenticeships through the use of third-party certifying entities. Among other things, the regulations must reflect an assessment of whether to:

  • determine how qualified third parties may provide recognition to industry-recognized apprenticeship programs
  • establish guidelines or requirements that qualified third parties should or must follow to ensure that apprenticeship programs they recognize meet quality standards
  • whether to retain the current Registered Apprenticeship system for current employers; and
  • Establishing review process for industry-certified apprenticeships, including processes for terminating a program.


The Secretary is required to consider and evaluate public comments prior to issuing the new regulations, which will allow for stakeholders to provide input into any final rule.

The EO also establishes a new Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which would be chaired by the Secretary of Labor and co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Commerce, and would also include representatives from industry, labor, and educational institutions. The task force would be responsible for developing a report to the president detailing:

  • Federal initiatives that can expand apprenticeship;
  • Legislative and administrative reforms necessary to support expansion; and
  • Strategies to create and expand industry-recognized apprenticeships; and
  • Strategies to support private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

The EO requires the Secretary to use available funding, including funds provided to the Department of Labor under the H-1B visa program, to promote apprenticeship, with a particular focus on expanding participation in apprenticeship for students in accredited secondary and postsecondary institutions, expanding apprenticeship in sectors without sufficient apprenticeship opportunities, and increasing youth participation in apprenticeship. The EO further calls on federal agencies to take steps to promote apprenticeships with targeted populations, including individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated, disconnected youth, and veterans.

The Trump Administration’s focus on apprenticeship comes on the heels of efforts under President Obama to expand registered apprenticeship programs, including more than $250 million in grants and contracts to states, national intermediaries, and other stakeholders. The EO does not specifically address how the new initiative will be connected to those ongoing investments.

Overall, the president’s proposals with respect to apprenticeship are consistent with National Skills Coalition’s longstanding support for industry-driven partnerships that support work-based learning and other strategies to connect businesses and workers. While there is clearly much still to be decided prior to implementation – including how to ensure that new industry-certified programs meet quality standards and ensuring that workers continue to benefit from wage increases and other protections associated with traditional registered apprenticeship programs – the initiatives outlined in the EO appear to be a good first step toward our goal of getting to five million apprentices. National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with the administration and other stakeholders to make sure that this effort leads to the expansion of high quality programs that meet the needs of workers and employer partners.

Evaluating Federal Workforce and Education Programs

While the apprenticeship components of the EO were generally good, there were some troubling provisions relating to other federal workforce programs. The order directs all Federal agencies with jurisdiction over at least one job training program to evaluate the effectiveness of those programs, and proposes elimination of programs deemed to be “ineffective, redundant, or unnecessary.” In light of the president’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget which called for substantial cuts to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), and other workforce, education, and human services programs, the direction to propose further cuts or eliminations is a step in the wrong direction. These important federal programs fund the country's workforce and CTE system and although they have strong bipartisan support in Congress, they are already underfunded after more than a decade of cuts. This trend has frustrated small and medium-sized businesses who struggle to find skilled workers.

Under WIOA, registered apprenticeship programs are automatically eligible to access training funds provided through a state's eligible training provider list, registered apprenticeship representatives are required to participate in strategic and operational activities of the local and state workforce development boards, and reporting requirements are relaxed for these programs compared to the requirements for other training providers. These changes are intended to better align the workforce system with the apprenticeship system. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the workforce system, however, would impact state and local efforts to build these connections, and would likely undermine the administration’s efforts to increase apprenticeship utilization.

National Skills Coalition opposes any efforts to cut needed workforce and education investments, and we will continue to work with our national, state and local partners to resist further cuts to these vital services. 

Read the a statement from Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of NSC on the Expanding Apprenticeships in America Executive Order here.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, Federal Funding, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning
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

The positive impact of partnerships: a Q&A with Alma Salazar

  ·   By Silvia Vallejo
The positive impact of partnerships: a Q&A with Alma Salazar

NSC Board Member, Alma Salazar is the Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Can you tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to focus on workforce development?

I've been working with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce for 16 years. Within this role I oversee education and workforce development programs and also direct the Chamber’s higher education and workforce development policy priorities. My path into workforce development came about serendipitously. While employed at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, I was responsible for overseeing regional implementation of the Federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994.  The National School-to-Work Act was the response to the Nation at Risk report which detailed business leaders’ concern that when students graduated from high school and/or college they lacked the necessary skills to compete in the workforce. We looked to partnerships between businesses and education as a way to improve the skills they were lacking. We found opportunities for students to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom.  By giving them access to critical work-based learning opportunities such as internships, job shadowing and apprenticeships we helped students bring learning to life. I found my niche in making employer partnerships work and making sure that, as essential stakeholders, business has a strong voice in workforce development policy creation.

When did you first get involved with NSC and why?

I became involved with NSC after attending the 2011 Skills Summit. That allowed me to become aware of NSCs in-depth policy expertise and to meet other incredible thought-leaders across the country who shared my passion for providing opportunities for individuals to compete and prosper.   After the summit, I made an effort to forge a good relationship with the staff and to participate in as many events as I could. I've been involved and a huge fan ever since. 

How has your partnership with NSC helped to advance your work in California, and how has your work helped to inform and progress NSC’s efforts?

NSC has been an invaluable resource and has provided many of us with the in-depth policy analysis needed to engage policy makers in thoughtful conversations about WIOA Reauthorization and implementation and has helped guide California’s workforce development policy priorities. The policy content NSC has published has truly helped the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and other regional chambers of commerce throughout the country engage meaningfully in these policy discussions.

Can you tell us a little about your efforts with SWEAP in California?

The State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) provides California the unprecedented opportunity to connect cross program data to better align education and workforce development programs to labor market demand.  It’s important that we have broad stakeholder support, including the business community, to move this initiative forward.  The Chamber is committed to engaging our business leaders and other chambers of commerce throughout the state to champion these efforts and see them through to fruition.

You’ve been appointed to the California Workforce Investment Board by Governor Jerry Brown. What is the most pressing issue/biggest challenge in that role?

My most immediate priority is making sure that we are working with and supporting the regions in the implementation of WIOA.  If done well, WIOA implementation can be the catalyst for a paradigm shift in the way workforce development systems work together to create career pathways for underserved populations to achieve economic mobility while helping businesses have the workforce they need to grow and prosper.  

In your position at the LA Chamber of Commerce, what do you think has been your most meaningful accomplishment?

I am incredibly proud to work for a business organization that cares deeply about the underserved and works daily to ensure that individuals have equal access to a quality education and high level job training — resulting in a thriving local economy.  

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Sector Partnerships, State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Sector Partnerships, California
NSC partners host lawmakers at workforce development, training, and education facilities

Over the summer, while Congress was out of session, many NSC partners hosted site visits with their U.S. Senators and Representatives or State Legislators. Site visits are an opportunity for elected officials to visit workforce development, education, or training facilities and see programs in action. It is an excellent way to educate lawmakers and their staff and show them the importance of workforce development funding. Many of these site visits were follow-ups to the advocacy visits that NSC partners made during the 2015 Skills Summit last February.

Ohio: Towards Employment

Senator Sherrod Brown's Special Assistant Matthew Keyes visited Towards Employment in Cleveland OH. Towards Employment’s mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment.  The group offers job-readiness training. Participants learn job search skills as well as the soft skills needed to succeed on the job. They also have access to legal services and vocational training. During their meeting they were able to showcase their programs and discuss workforce development policy.   

Virginia: Dan River Region Collaborative 

Senator Tim Kaine and his team met with members of the Dan River Region Collaborative and ABB employees to tour the facility and discuss economic development issues and career and technical training.  ABB is a global company which operates and manufactures power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impacts. As co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, Senator Kaine recently introduced the JOBS Act to expand federal Pell Grants to students who enroll in short-term job training programs. The bill would help workers afford high-quality training in advanced manufacturing and other industries. (Click here to support this bill). The Dan River Region Collaborative was founded to address workforce development in the Dan River Region of Virginia. Utilizing a sector strategy approach, the Collaborative promotes regional partnerships of employers, educators, workforce developers and other stakeholders to address the skills needs of regional employers. Within the industry partnerships, the Collaborative’s efforts focus on capacity building, systems change and policy advocacy.

Pennsylvania: District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund 

Susan Thomas, Director of Industry Partnerships (IP) at District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund met with Pennsylvania State Representative Cherelle Parker and Pennsylvania State Senator Dominic Pileggi.  They spoke about the fund’s work on IPs and the need to add money to the IP budget at the state level. They also discussed the importance of pushing a sector skills policy agenda as well as making Pell grants available for occupational post-secondary programs. The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund's mission is: (1) providing access to career pathways in healthcare and human services for incumbent workers and job seekers through education, training and work-based learning; and, (2) building the capacity of the Delaware Valley's healthcare industry to create a highly-skilled workforce through on-the-job training opportunities and the development of an education pipeline that aligns with career ladder steps. 

Iowa: Central Iowa works 

Representative David Young toured the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families in Des Moines, Iowa.  During his visit, he met with students enrolled in the Transportation/Distribution/Logistics program, which is funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and Jobs for the Future. The site visit was a community event which brought out a multitude of stakeholders:

  • Rob Denson, President of Des Moines Area Community College
  • Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa
  • Sarah Ramsey, Advocacy Officer, United Way of Central Iowa
  • Angie Arthur, Central Iowa Workforce Investment Board
  • Marvin DeJear, Director, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families
  • Pat Steele, Central Iowa Works


After the tour, Young participated in a discussion with all those in attendance regarding workforce issues.  Topics discussed included employment challenges for people with a criminal history, the utilization of Pell grants, youth unemployment, and the Direct Care Workforce. 

Colorado: Skills2Compete Colorado coalition 

The Skills2Compete Colorado coalition met with Senator Michael Bennet’s State Policy Director, Becca Montgomery. In attendance were representatives from VocRehab and SNAP E&T providers, the Regional Representative from the Dept. of Labor, Colorado Center on Law and Policy and local CBOs: Mi Casa and CWEE (host). TANF and WIOA were the major topics of discussion for this diverse group of stakeholders.  The Skills2Compete-Colorado Coalition is a multi-sector coalition that includes representatives from adult education, post-secondary education, workforce development, business, and the advocacy arena

Let’s keep the momentum from this "summer of engagement" going! NSC facilitates regular calls with partners in the field and the staff of their members of Congress; if this is something in which you’d be interested, feel free to reach out to Ashley Shaw, Field Coordinator.

 

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia
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