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States should count apprenticeship completions towards postsecondary attainment goals

In recent years, the federal government has invested significantly in registered apprenticeship programs because they are proven to be an equitable pathway to a good job. Since they allow students to learn while they earn, they can help upskill workers while allowing for broader participation amongst non-traditional students and people with barriers to employment, who may not have the financial resources to stop working and pay tuition while they train for a new career. For these reasons, a new paper by the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, “Counting Registered Apprenticeship Completions” calls upon states to include registered apprenticeship certificates within their postsecondary attainment goals and collect data about these programs in order to measure progress.

By explicitly including registered apprenticeship certificates within postsecondary attainment goals, states can signal to the public that registered apprenticeships are a valid pathway to a good career. It also provides incentive to state policymakers to pass policies that make registered apprenticeship programs more prevalent.

Just over half of states collect the individual-level data they need to understand which residents have enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs, which industries those apprenticeships are in, and the demographic characteristics of those who completed their apprenticeship and earned a certificate. The rest of the states may not have an accurate method of knowing how many of their residents have enrolled in and completed registered apprenticeship programs, and how those completions help equitably address the skills gap.

This paper details how Iowa, a state whose registered apprenticeship programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, and Washington, a state who administers its own registered apprenticeship programs have collected individual-level data on registered apprenticeship completers.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Work-Based Learning, Iowa, Washington, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Job training is key to growing California’s economy and closing the state’s economic divide

California’s economy is booming, yet one out of every four residents lives in or near poverty. That’s why 40 California groups including colleges, unions, philanthropy, and organizations representing businesses and workers have joined with National Skills Coalition to call on California’s next Governor to adopt a workforce development agenda that would connect more people to good jobs. This shared agenda, Securing a strong economic future for all Californians asserts that a world-class workforce development system can support the economic aspirations of Californians while boosting the capacity of the state’s businesses.

The report explains that California’s diversity provides the state’s communities and businesses with a big advantage, but racial disparities in education, employment, and earnings keep California’s economy from reaching its full potential. It calls on the state to adopt policies that create more opportunities for all Californians, including people of color, immigrants, and low-income Californians, to thrive in the workforce and share in the state’s prosperity.

While the report recognizes that workforce development cannot be the only lever for economic mobility, it explains how a world-class workforce development system that helps more workers build in-demand skills and connect to good jobs can support economic opportunity. It lays out guiding principles for a world-class workforce development system to increase equity, opportunity, innovation, and economic growth in the state:

  • Focus on removing barriers to training and good jobs so that all workers can participate and thrive in the labor force.
  • Ensure that public investments in job training put all workers on pathways to good jobs, are aligned with labor market demand, engage businesses as employer partners, and work in tandem with other economic mobility policies.
  • Engage industry leaders to shape training programs and create stronger connections among businesses, workers, organized labor, and training providers.
  • Support upskilling for California’s frontline workers who want additional training to move into better-paying careers.
  • Use data to set and measure progress toward goals for creating a skilled, inclusive, and competitive workforce.
  • Prepare California for the current realities of the changing labor market and the future of work by creating new opportunities for low-wage workers and businesses in the changing economy.
  • Align workforce, education, human services, and corrections systems to move state policy to regional implementation.


The report is clear that California has made significant strides in building a better workforce development system, which policymakers can build on, and recommends nine innovative policy strategies that the state’s leaders can deploy to take it to the next level.  Click here to read the full policy agenda, including specific recommendations.

The work doesn’t end here. In 2019, NSC and its state partners will offer opportunities for California stakeholders to help transform this agenda into action. If you are a California organization interested in working together to secure a strong economic future for all Californians, please click here to learn more and get involved.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Job-Driven Investments, Data and Credentials, Skills Equity, Work-Based Learning, California
Pre-employment training and affordable childcare key to broadening the apprenticeship pipeline

Policymakers seeking to increase the number of apprentices should focus their investments in pre-employment training like pre-apprenticeship programs and affordable child care, according to a new brief by the National Skills Coalition, Broadening the Apprenticeship Pipeline.  

Apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning can help address the nation’s skills gap, but the U.S. falls far behind competitor nations in using work-based learning to train workers for in-demand, middle skill jobs. To address this underutilization and expand the pipeline of workers with access to work-based learning, U.S. policy should better support pre-apprenticeship programs and affordable child care that help women, parents, and other underrepresented people succeed.

For people who have historically had less access to apprenticeships, like women, pre-apprenticeship programs provide a valuable on-ramp that lays the foundation for success. Underrepresented workers without adequate industry experience often need the occupational skills training, exposure to job sites, and engagement with industry leaders that pre-employment programs provide before they reach the skill level necessary to enter work-based learning programs.

But, training alone may not be enough to ensure success. Significant child care costs can make participation in unpaid pre-apprenticeship programs nearly impossible for parents – nearly a third of the workforce. Pre-apprenticeship programs that provide both training and access to child care can open the door to an apprenticeship pathway for a broad range of workers. Once in an apprenticeship, child care continues to be an important support for ensuring participant success since starting wages are lower than those apprentices can expect to make once they’ve completed their program.

The Moore Community House Women in Construction (WinC) program illustrates the importance of child care to pre-employment and work-based learning participants. WinC is a pre-apprenticeship program in Biloxi, Mississippi, that trains women for apprenticeships and nontraditional career pathways in construction, skilled craft trades, and advanced manufacturing. In 2016, the program received a grant from the state — funded with federal dollars Mississippi receives through its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) state grant — to offer child care to participants and graduates, and a separate grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) to support child care as a retention tool for participants after graduation. Since 2016, WinC enrollment has nearly tripled from nearly sixty women per year to about 180 women per year.

To build on the success of WinC and broaden the apprenticeship pipeline across the nation, this issue brief includes recommendations for both federal and state policymakers. Specifically, Congress and the states should:

  1. Maximize the use of TANF to support pre-employment and child care for work-based learning participants;
  2. Improve alignment between the workforce system and TANF and SNAP recipients; and
  3. Create new work-based learning support funds on both the federal and state levels.

 

Posted In: Work Based Learning, Work-Based Learning, Mississippi
NSC announces Work-Based Learning Academy state teams

National Skills Coalition is pleased to announce the five state teams that have been selected to participate in our 2018-2019 Work-Based Learning Academy: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Washington. Through the Academy, state teams will advance state policies to expand work-based learning opportunities for low-income communities. Teams will work together with faculty advisors and participate in peer-to-peer learning.

Work-based learning helps workers build new skills while earning a paycheck. Through work-based learning models like apprenticeship, the skills that workers build can translate into higher wages and industry-recognized credentials. Work-based learning is an issue of increasing interest among state policy leaders, spurred by federal investment, attention to apprenticeship by the previous and current Presidential administrations, and state-level technical assistance projects. While some states have adopted policies to support apprenticeship, few have policies aimed at expanding work-based learning opportunities for low-income adults and out-of-school youth. Expanding work-based learning to these communities would allow low-wage workers to advance to good jobs and help employers train a skilled workforce.

Some state teams will work on state programs to support work-based learning intermediaries. Intermediaries can help employers establish apprenticeship and work-based learning programs; they also serve as the connection point between business, education and training programs, and workers to streamline services and increase capacity to serve more people. Other teams will focus on state polices to provide support services, like childcare, transportation, and career navigation, to help people succeed in work-based learning.

The selected five state teams are:

  • Connecticut 
    • Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Education and Workforce Partnership
    • Connecticut Department of Labor
    • Capital Workforce Partners
    • Connecticut State Colleges and University System
    • Connecticut Technical Education and Career System

 

  • Illinois
    • Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
    • Associated Builders and Contractors
    • Young Invincibles
    • Chicago Jobs Council
    • Harold Washington College

 

  • Indiana
    • Indiana Institute for Working Families
    • Indiana Department of Workforce Development
    • REAL Services Inc.
    • United Way of Howard County
    • Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

 

  • Oklahoma
    • Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development
    • Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
    • Dell
    • Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce
    • Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies

 

  • Washington
    • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
    • Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
    • Construction Center of Excellence


Teams will be partnered with faculty advisors who are experienced in their field of interest. The Academy’s faculty advisors are:

  • Earl Buford, Partner4Work
  • Susan Crane, SkillUp Washington
  • Mark Kessenich, Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership
  • Pat Steele, Central Iowa Works
  • Matt Williams, Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative


The Work-Based Learning Academy will begin with a kick-off event in Milwaukee, WI on June 5-6, which will include a site visit at Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership. The Academy will run from June 2018 – June 2019. If you are interested in learning more about the Academy or NSC’s work on work-based learning in the states, please contact state network manager Rachel Hirsch at rachelh@nationalskillscoalition.org.

Posted In: Work-Based Learning, Washington, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut
NSC announces call for applications for new Work-Based Learning Academy

National Skills Coalition with be launching a Work-Based Learning Academy to support up to five state teams in developing state policy proposals and advocacy strategies to expand work-based learning to low-income communities.

Work-based learning is an issue of increasing interest among state policy leaders. While some states have adopted policies to support apprenticeship, few have policies aimed at expanding work-based learning opportunities for low-income adults and out-of-school youth.

NSC’s Work-Based Learning Academy will focus on helping state teams develop and advance state-level policies in the following areas:

  • State grant programs to fund work-based learning intermediaries or opportunities to modify existing state sector partnership grant programs to help partnerships become work-based learning intermediaries
  • State policy guidance to help local workforce development boards use WIOA out-of-school youth funds to support intermediaries that can broker work-based learning opportunities and services for out-of-school youth
  • State-established support fund to provide support services such as case management, child care, transportation, and other assistance to low-income people to prepare for and succeed in work-based learning and other policy mechanisms for aligning child care, transportation, and apprenticeship training funds
  • State-level financial incentives to help employers establish new apprenticeship programs and hire apprentices from low-income communities
  • Tuition waivers for apprentices’ postsecondary classroom instruction and a requirement that such instruction articulate with certificates and degrees


Applications for participation are now being accepted and are due by March 1, 2018. The Academy will officially launch in May and run until June of 2019. To apply and learn more, please download the full application here.

NSC will also be hosting a webinar on our recently released Work-Based Learning Toolkit. In addition to an overview of the toolkit and a federal policy update, this webinar will feature Pat Steele of Central Iowa Works and Anne Kilzer of the Minnesota Workforce Council on apprenticeship initiatives in their states. The webinar will occur on February 20th at 1:00pm EST. Register for the webinar here.

Posted In: Work-Based Learning
NSC releases state policy toolkit on work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults
Many states have enacted policies to increase the scope of work-based learning that combines instruction at a worksite with classroom learning.  Few of these state policies, however, focus on low-skilled populations of out-of-school youth or disadvantaged adults. NSC’s scan, for example, found that among the 14 states that have policies supporting pre-apprenticeships or youth apprenticeships, all 14 states target in-school youth. While disadvantaged adults may be among those who benefit in the 26 states that have work-based learning policies that support adult training, very few of these policies specifically target disadvantaged adults.
 
NSC’s new policy toolkit focuses on state policies designed to make work-based learning more widely available and successful for disadvantaged populations. The toolkit also emphasizes policies to make work-based learning more available and effective for small- and medium-size employers. The toolkit concentrates on work-based learning that combines instruction at a worksite during paid employment with classroom education, and that culminates in an industry-recognized credential. Workers in paid work-based learning programs obtain skills and credentials while earning a wage. This is especially important for disadvantaged individuals with immediate financial needs.
 
The toolkit contains:
  • An explanation of the key policies that support the growth of work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults;
  • Examples of current state policies and local practices that expand work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults; and,
  • A legislative template for state work-based learning policies that target out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.

Policymakers and advocates can use this toolkit to:

  • Inform decisions on establishing or expanding state policies that support work-based learning;
  • Learn from other state and local community examples; and
  • Develop legislation that establishes or expands work-based learning.

The toolkit presents five policy components:

  • A grant program to fund work-based learning intermediaries;
  • A support fund to aid disadvantaged populations engaged in work-based learning or preparing for work-based learning;
  • Grants for small employers to assist with the cost of starting and managing new apprenticeships;  
  • A tax credit for employers employing apprentices, with an enhanced credit for apprentices from disadvantaged populations; and,
  • A tuition waiver for apprentices’ postsecondary classroom instruction, and a requirement that this instruction articulate with certificates and degrees.

NSC recommends that a state enact all five components to establish a robust policy of supporting work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.
Posted In: Work-Based Learning, Skills Equity
Fifty-State Scan of State Work-Based Learning Policies

Across the country, employers are reporting a skills gap for middle-skill jobs that require some form of post high school education or training but not a bachelor’s degree. Employers report there are insufficient numbers of job applicants with the occupational/technical skills required for open middle-skill positions and that too many applicants lack critical “soft skills,” and have no relevant work experience. State policymakers have heard employers’ concerns and are seeking solutions.

One key strategy for filling these skill gaps is work-based learning programs like apprenticeship and career and technical education with a worksite component — programs that blend worksite and classroom learning to prepare workers with the skills employers need. This dual model of training has a long tradition of proven effectiveness. Yet, the scale of workbased learning, especially paid work-based learning, is limited in the United States.

Recognizing the value of work-based learning and the opportunity to spread work-based learning to more populations and sectors of the economy, states have adopted policies to help increase the scope of work-based learning opportunities.

National Skills Coalition (NSC) has scanned the fifty states and the District of Columbia to identify the policies that states have in place to support work-based learning that includes paid employment. Through the scan, NSC finds that:

Thirty-five states have a policy in place to support work-based learning.

  • Fourteen of these states have an expansion initiative that directs resources for state staff or other organizations to support the growth of work-based learning.
  • Eighteen of these states provide a subsidy to employers who participate in work-based learning.  Ten provide a grant or reimbursement to employers, and ten provide a tax credit. (Two states provide both.)
  • Fourteen of these states have a policy supporting pre-apprenticeships or youth apprenticeships.
  • At least eleven of these states have another type of policy to require or fund work experiences for secondary students that include paid work-based learning.
  • Nine of these states have a policy subsidizing postsecondary classroom instruction for apprentices.


The scan explains each type of work-based learning policy, identifies which states have work-based learning policies in place (including descriptions of those policies) and reveals which states have opportunities to adopt new policies. 

Posted In: Work Based Learning, Work-Based Learning, Skills Equity