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Maryland leaders consider data tools for policymakers

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Maryland leaders consider data tools for policymakers

Workforce Data Quality Campaign, in collaboration with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center, held a packed meeting this week about using data tools to impact policy change in Maryland. At the meeting, more than 35 representatives of Maryland state and local governments, postsecondary academic institutions, and Maryland-oriented foundations joined together to learn about data tools for policymakers and discuss how they could be used to further Maryland’s policy priorities.

Domenico "Mimmo" Parisi and Zack Krampf, of the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (nSPARC) at Mississippi State University, began the meeting with a demonstration of three data tools they have created for Mississippi: 

  • Dashboard - uses a small number of common metrics to report on education and employment outcomes across workforce development programs;
  • Pathway evaluator - shows the best pathways to gain skills for work in particular industries; and,
  • Supply and demand report - compares the number of trained workers in a state to the number of workers that employers need, in order to help align training with employer demand.
     

They explained how Mississippi policymakers have used these tools, and data more generally, to make policy decisions in the state. For example, Mississippi used data to identify gaps in its skilled workforce, and created a workforce training fund to help workers gain skills required by employers moving into the state.

Mississippi’s tools were created as a part of National Skills Coalition’s State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). The project seeks to create better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how education and workforce training programs can work together, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment. SWEAP is assessing how state policy leaders find such information useful for improving workforce development policy, and ultimately educational and labor market outcomes for program participants.

After the demonstration of Mississippi’s SWEAP tools, the conversation shifted to Maryland’s policy needs, its data tool priorities, and the potential challenges the state faces in creating data tools. MLDS staff will take this information to its Research and Policy board in the hopes of building its own SWEAP tools and promoting a better understanding of the connection between education and employment in the state.

You can learn more about the SWEAP project here. Moving forward, WDQC plans to provide assistance to states seeking to implement SWEAP data tools. If your state is interested in implementing SWEAP tools, please contact us at info@workforcedqc.org.   

*Workforce Data Quality Campaign is a project of National Skills Coalition. This blog was originally posted on the WDQC website

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Maryland, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Ohio Policymakers Unveil SWEAP Data Tool

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Ohio Policymakers Unveil SWEAP Data Tool

On December 15 in Columbus Ohio state leaders held a press conference unveiling a new data tool that will provide employers and state policymakers with better information about the supply of education and training in Ohio.  Legislators and agency heads from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the Department of Job and Family Services, joined by National Skills Coalition State Policy Director Bryan Wilson, gathered for a live demonstration of the tool. 

The Workforce Supply Tool, was made possible by the NSC State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP), with the financial support of the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and USA Funds.

“Our universities and particularly our community colleges, are eager to provide real-time access to data about new graduates coming into the workforce,” said John Carey, Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.  “This tool reflects the number one need of Ohio’s businesses and that is finding the talent they need to grow and prosper,” said Ryan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.  Senator Bill Beagle and Representative Bill Reineke talked about the critical importance of a skilled workforce and their appreciation of better data. Bryan Wilson commented, “Ohio has built a state-of-the-art tool that will aid business and economic development leaders grow jobs in the state and help higher education leaders better align education and training with employer skill needs.”

The Workforce Supply Tool shows the number of graduates by occupation, with breakdowns by regions, levels of education, and institutions. The tool, which currently includes 20 in-demand occupations, will be expanded early next year to include 200 individual occupations and will be linked with demand information to enable comparisons between employer demand and the supply of trained and educated workers.

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Ohio
Aligning workforce programs with employer needs in Mississippi

On September 23, Mississippi held its first state Data Summit entitled, “Advancing the Use of Data for a Bright Mississippi Future.” The Summit was attended by approximately 175 people, including top state elected officials, and was hosted by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

The impetus for the Summit was the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP), a project of National Skills Coalition (NSC).  With the support of JP Morgan Chase Foundation and USA Funds, SWEAP is directly assisting Mississippi and three other states (California, Ohio, and Rhode Island) in demonstrating how state policy makers can use cross-program data tools to better align workforce and education programs with employer skill needs and help individuals advance to higher levels of credentials and employment.

In Mississippi, SWEAP is working with the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University in developing dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports.  (See here for more information on SWEAP and the three types of data tools.) Building on the work already accomplished by NSPARC with the State Longitudinal Data System and its web portal, LifeTracks, the SWEAP data tools will provide policymakers with new insights on how workforce and education programs can advance credential attainment and meet employer skill needs. The pathway evaluators, for example, will answer questions about what combination of programs and services produce the best credential and employment outcomes for which groups of people.

SWEAP is not about producing data for data sake, but for the purpose of improving policies and programs.  That is why the Data Summit was so exciting. The Lieutenant Governor was the keynote speaker. The Speaker of the House and Senate and House committee leaders also spoke. Each elected official displayed a personal knowledge of data systems for workforce and education, talked about how they use the data, and expressed their deep personal support for maintaining and building the data capacity of NSPARC and the state. The Governor, who could not personally attend, provided a videotaped introduction.

NSC State Policy Director, and SWEAP Director, Bryan Wilson was the featured speaker at the Summit reception.  Bryan also moderated the panel of legislative committee leaders who discussed: “What Does the State Legislature Need from Data for Education Policy, Workforce Policy, and Performance-Based Budgeting?” Bryan also presented at a session providing a deep dive into the SWEAP data tools and the policies that states can develop based on information from the tools. While the SWEAP tools will not be fully completed until 2017, state leaders are already considering how they will be able to use the new information. 

Given the success of the Data Summit, the Department of Employment Security and NSPARC hope to make it an annual event.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Mississippi

WDQC infographic features states’ college scorecards

  ·   By Rachel Zinn
WDQC infographic features states’ college scorecards

While Congress debates the appropriate role for the federal government in helping students get information about college, states are stepping up to provide important data on postsecondary education outcomes.

A growing number of state websites show information about postsecondary program costs, graduation rates, average debt, and average post-program earnings. These websites are designed to help students, families, and workers make decisions about colleges and careers.

In some states, publicizing this information is required by law. A new infographic from Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), a project of National Skills Coalition, highlights state legislative models.

Minnesota, for example, has a law that requires colleges to report data to the state. Using this data, state agencies created the Graduate Employment Outcomes tool. It shows hourly wages one, two, and four years after graduation, as well as industries and regions of employment for graduates by school, degree, and major. Agency leaders conduct outreach to high school to help counselors and students use the tool.

To get information about what happens to graduates in the labor market, states match student records reported by colleges with data about employment and wages collected as part of the Unemployment Insurance program. This data matching allows a more accurate picture of graduates’ employment than alumni surveys.

WDQC encourages states to develop scorecards showing postsecondary education program results in its State Blueprint. In addition, the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) at National Skills Coalition works intensively with selected states (California, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island) to develop scorecards and other data tools.

The U.S. Department of Education currently provides a College Scorecard for all schools nationwide, and Congress is considering whether to require this type of effort in law. The bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, proposed in both the House and Senate, would mandate federal student data system, data matching, and reporting on education and employment outcomes.

 
Posted In: Data and Credentials, State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

California discusses data developments

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
California discusses data developments

On June 10, the California Edge Coalition held a briefing for the Legislative Workforce Policy Group on, “Data to Serve Policy, Programs, and People: Reinventing California’s Education and workforce Data Systems.”  Presenters were Bryan Wilson, State Policy Director, National Skills Coalition (NSC); Dan Rounds, Deputy Director, California Workforce Development Board (CWDB); Kathy Booth, Senior Research Associate, WestEd; and Tessa de Roy, Executive Director, California College Guidance Initiative (CCGI).  Participants included legislative staff and agency officials.

As explained by Edge, states across the nation are developing data systems to answer critical policy questions, implement effective practices, and improve student and participant outcomes. California, however, lags behind most states in developing a data system that can serve these needs. The purpose of the briefing was to spur discussion and action on the next steps California should take.

Bryan discussed California’s progress compared to other states based on the Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s, Mastering the Blueprint. California, unlike most states, does not have a state longitudinal data system or a standing body to coordinate data sharing among agencies. National Skills Coalition is assisting California as part of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP).  SWEAP is helping California develop a dashboard, pathway evaluator, and supply and demand report in order to provide policymakers with cross program information they can use to better align programs with each other and with employer skill needs.

Dan explained that CWDB is leading a multi-stakeholder process to identify a data system that will meet the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s call for a cross-program data system that will support service delivery and reporting. Kathy talked about Launchboard. Sponsored by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Launchboard supplies institutions with aggregate information on the progress of career technical education students through their institutions and into the labor market. WestEd is also working on a public-facing pathway evaluator for SWEAP that will enable policymakers and others to view the information. Finally, Tessa spoke of CCGI’s development of an electronic transcript infrastructure and related information that assists K-12 students’ college and career planning and the college admission process. 

Participants at the briefing acknowledged that despite progress California has a substantial way to go to have a data system in place that can meet the needs of policymakers, administrators, and consumers. They expressed encouragement for the efforts underway and interest in supportive legislation as the efforts move forward.  

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California

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 holds 2015 SWEAP state forum

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
NSC holds 2015 SWEAP state forum

On November 16 and 17 in Chicago, the National Skills Coalition held the 2015 State Forum of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP).  SWEAP is demonstrating how state policymakers can use information from cross-program data tools to better align workforce and education programs with one another and with employer skill needs. Attending the forum were teams of officials from the four states receiving SWEAP direct technical assistance: California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island.   

The 2015 Forum, organized by Bryan Wilson, NSC State Policy Director and Director of SWEAP, provided a deep dive into the development of data tools. The Forum focused on peer learning and advice from national experts. Keith Ewald from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services demonstrated the Ohio Workforce Success Measures Dashboard that shows the performance results of major workforce and education programs at state and sub-state levels using metrics similar to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act common measures. 

Mimmo Parisi, Director of The National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State University, demonstrated how their LifeTracks system can function as a pathway evaluator identifying outcomes associated with participation in multiple programs.  Jill Leufgen of the Chancellor’s Office of California Community Colleges presented California’s LaunchBoard, showing patterns of participation in community colleges and the associated labor market outcomes.

Guests from Florida and Colorado, Duane Whitfield and Lauren Victor, explained their state’s approaches to analyzing the supply, demand, and gaps for skilled and educated workers. Kevin Hollenbeck from the Upjohn Institute talked about measuring and reporting program net impacts on employment and earnings, and the return on investment for taxpayers—metrics that can be used as part of state dashboards.  Derek Redelman from USA Funds and Whitney Smith from JPMorgan Chase, Global Philanthropy, funders of SWEAP, spoke about why they are committed to improving the data available to policymakers.

The four SWEAP states will take lessons learned from the Forum as they continue to develop the three types of data tools. In 2016, as the tools are developed, SWEAP will further engage state policymakers. The purpose of SWEAP is not to develop data for data’s sake, but to provide information policymakers can use to better align workforce and education programs with the labor market and enable more individuals to attain postsecondary credentials and higher levels of employment.  As SWEAP continues, NSC will share the lessons learned with other states through webinars and reports. 

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Ohio
SWEAP launches projects in Mississippi and Rhode Island

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. 

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Rhode Island, Mississippi

SWEAP launches projects in California and Ohio

  ·   By Bryan Wilson
SWEAP launches projects in California and Ohio

The State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) held launch meetings in Columbus, Ohio and Sacramento, California over the past month. 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 Columbus, Andy Van Kleunen, NSC CEO and Bryan Wilson, NSC State Policy Director and Director of SWEAP, spoke before a group of higher education and workforce leaders hosted by the Ohio Board of Regents. Andy and Bryan talked about the difficulties policymakers face in knowing how well workforce development programs perform as a system and how well low-skill individuals progress through the system and into higher levels of employment. Andy and Bryan explained three types of data tools—dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports – that can answer policymakers’ basic questions about system performance and guide the development of state policies. 

Ohio, which already has one of the strongest state dashboards, is focusing on the development of supply and demand reports and pathway evaluators. As part of the launch, Bryan and SWEAP consultant, Richard Froeschle, discussed supply and demand reports with a cross-agency group of leading researchers and data analysts.

In Sacramento, Andy and Bryan spoke before the California Workforce Investment Board’s Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Implementation Work Group. The Work Group is chaired by Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor, Chancellor’s Office, California Community Colleges. SWEAP will be assisting California policymakers with the implementation of Assembly Bill 2148 (Mullin) that directs the Board to establish a state dashboard, and with Senate Bill 118 (Lieu) that authorizes supply and demand reports. SWEAP will also assist with the build-out of California’s Launchboard as a pathway evaluator tool.  Bryan and SWEAP consultant Heath Prince, Director of the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas, also talked with California’s WIOA Data Workgroup about workforce dashboards.

In addition to Ohio and California, SWEAP is providing technical assistance in Mississippi and Rhode Island. The assistance will continues until the end of 2016, and will also include the sharing of lessons learned among the four states, and with others as well.   

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, California, Ohio

Launching national credentials dialogue

  ·   By Rachel Zinn,
Launching national credentials dialogue

This blog post originally appeared on Workforce Data Quality Campaign's website. Click here to learn more about WDQC.

National Skills Coalition and more than 40 other organizations are co-sponsoring an effort to reform the nation's postsecondary credentialing system.

Lumina Foundation is spearheading this work to address growing confusion by students and employers about what credentials mean, how they are connected, and which have value.

"Students of all ages and backgrounds need a system of credentials that validates a variety of experience, education, and training so they can compete for 21st century jobs," notes a Lumina issue brief. "Current credentials serve as the currency denoting that candidates for jobs have the skills employers are seeking, but they fail in this task on many levels."

Co-sponsoring organizations will contribute to a national dialogue on credentials focused both on understanding current challenges and developing solutions to create a more connected, transparent system.

We encourage you to visit connectingcredentials.org to answer questions about credentialing challenges and provide feedback on “Connecting Credentials: A Beta Credentials Framework,” a paper designed to frame the meaning of various credentials in terms of the knowledge and skills that their recipients should possess.

Another way to participate in the national dialogue is to sign up for online conversations on specific topics, such as credential portability and assuring the labor market value of credentials.

For more information on credentials, the new website offers links to dozens of resources, including National Skills Coalition's State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) and a Workforce Data Quality Campaign publication identifying innovative practices for linking data about occupational licenses and certifications awarded by industry.

We look forward to assisting in the national dialogue, which is being co-managed by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW). It is critical that the attainment and value of credentials can be accurately measured, and that reliable information about credentials is utilized to enhance economic opportunity for individuals and businesses.

Posted In: State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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