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UPDATE: Florida and California become 15th and 16th states to call on Congress to adopt a job-driven Community College Compact as part of HEA reauthorization

UPDATE: As of September 18th, Michael P. Brawer, CEO and Executive Director of the Association of Florida Colleges, has also signed onto the Community College Compact. Read the updated letter here. Elroy Ortiz Oakley has sent in a separate letter on behalf of California Community Colleges, sharing the same higher education policy priorities.

To date, sixteen total states have urged Congress to adopt the four policies contained in the Community College Compact, including: AR, CA, CT, FL, IA, KY, LA, MO, MS, NV, NH, NY, OR, VA, WA, and WV.

September 5th-- Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of West Virginia Community and Technical College System, has joined the ranks of thirteen other state-wide systems to support the suite of post-secondary education bills.

August 27th-- Brian Millner, President and CEO of the Missouri Community College Association, has signed onto the Community College Compact, urging federal policymakers to make higher education policy more responsive to the needs of today’s students, in recognition of the support shown by Missouri's thirteen independent community colleges. For more information about the Compact click here.

Posted In: Higher Education Access, Florida
Department of Education calls for second round of applications for Performance Partnership Pilots

On April 26, the Department of Education announced the availability of funding for the second round of up to 10 Performance Partnership Pilots (P3s) to develop innovative strategies to engage and improve outcomes for youth who are out of school and not working. The P3 program provides these partnerships with flexibility in spending funds from the departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and Justice, and Housing and Urban Development. The flexibility is meant to encourage better alignment and integration in spending funds at the state and local level.

Pilots that target disconnected youth living in communities that have experienced civil unrest, rural communities, Promise Zones, in one or more Indian tribes, and who have significant barriers to education and employment such as youth with disabilities, those living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty or those involved in the justice system will be given priority. Partnerships are also given priority under the request for applications if they provide disconnected youth with work-based learning opportunities.

Under the first round of the P3 initiative, pilots were launched in the following areas:

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Broward County, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Los Angeles, California
  • The State of Oklahoma
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Southeastern Kentucky, including Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry Counties
  • Ysleta del Sur Pueblo


Applications for this second round will be accepted through June 27, 2016 and a call for a third round of applications is anticipated in the next few months. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Florida, California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Washington

Building skills in the retail sector

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock ,
Building skills in the retail sector

A year-long pilot project is underway to help retail workers with limited English proficiency to improve their language skills. Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce (pdf) is a joint initiative of Miami Dade College, the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, and the National Immigration Forum. It is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.

Nationally, nearly half (48%) of all immigrant workers have limited English proficiency. The retail sector in particular has high numbers of immigrant workers: Data from the Migration Policy Institute indicate that 14% of workers employed in the “Retail Trade” industry category are foreign-born. Immigrants represent an even higher percentage of those employed in service occupations overall, at nearly 1 in 4 workers.

A Three-City Pilot

The pilot initiative is designed to help retail workers in three cities -- Houston, Miami, and New York -- to improve their English language skills, thus opening up opportunities for career advancement and fostering long-term economic success. As data from the international Survey of Adult Skills has recently affirmed, there is a strong link between improved English skills and higher wages in the United States. 

An estimated 750 participants will be served during the project’s first year. The majority are expected to be front-line workers such as cashiers and stock clerks – occupations where limited English proficient employees are most prevalent, and where improved language skills can have a rapid and positive effect. The program will be free to participants courtesy of the Walmart Foundation’s support.

Best Practices in Contextualized English & Employer Engagement

Drawing on best practices in adult education, the project will integrate contextualized English language instruction with other skills needed in the retail workplace, such as active listening and spontaneous conversation. In addition to helping workers to enhance their fluency with retail-specific vocabulary, the skill-building classes will enable workers to improve their communication with colleagues, increase customer satisfaction, and improve safety on the job. 

Multiple employers are expected to be engaged in the development and delivery of classes, which will blend worksite and online participation. Initial businesses include Kroger and Publix grocery stores, as well as employer partners of the National Immigration Forum’s existing New American Workforce program.

Wider Implications?

The project’s development is expected to be closely watched by stakeholders in the workforce development, adult education and immigrant integration fields. Several of its primary features reflect themes found in major federal legislation and policies such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

In particular, the project’s emphasis on employer engagement and on job-driven English language and skill-building reflect new WIOA outcome measures and the legislation’s emphasis on tighter connections between adult education and workforce services.  

About the Project Partners

The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education is a national network based at Westchester Community College in suburban New York City. Among CCCIE’s 2015 activities was the release of a study on how today’s New Americans are being served by community colleges.

Miami Dade College is the largest and most diverse college in the United States. With eight campuses, a major outreach center and more than 165,000 students from across the world, the College offers over 300 programs of study and vocational, associate, and baccalaureate degrees. MDC’s President Eduardo J. Padrón expressed strong support for this project, noting that he himself is an immigrant. 

The National Immigration Forum is a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington DC. The Forum’s New American Workforce program works with businesses to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become full participants in the workplace, community and economy.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s support of this project is part of its $100 million Opportunity initiative to increase the economic mobility of entry-level workers across the country. 

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Florida
NSC highlights skills policies adopted in states’ 2015 legislative sessions

In 2015, numerous states enacted legislation to address the needs of workers and employers and close the middle-skill gap. As highlighted in NSC’s 2015 state legislative round-up, states increased access to career pathways and set policies to support job-driven training.  They also took steps to implement the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which became effective on July 1, 2015.

To hear more about the actions governors and state legislatures took in 2015 to close the skills gap, register for our 2015 State Policy Legislative Round-Up, hosted on July 28 at 2pm ET.

Career Pathways 

At least nine states enacted legislation to support career pathways policies. Career pathways combine education, training, career counseling and support services that align with industry skill needs so participants can earn secondary school diplomas or their equivalent, postsecondary credentials, and get middle-skill jobs. In 2015, Colorado and Minnesota adopted legislation that will increase investments in career pathway strategies in their states.

 Career pathways include adult basic education, typically offered concurrently with and in the same context as general workforce preparation and training for an occupation. In 2015, Arkansas, California, Georgia, and Ohio increased investments in adult basic education.

Tuition assistance is also critical to ensuring that career pathways lead to postsecondary credentials, particularly for part-time, working students. In 2015, Indiana, Nebraska, and Oregon all passed legislation that expands tuition assistance.

Job-Driven Training 

Job-driven training prepares workers for jobs available in the economy. In 2015, a handful of states passed legislation to advance job-driven training.

California, Colorado, and Washington enacted legislation to expand work-based learning in their states by making investments in apprenticeship programs, paid internships in key industries, and apprenticeship preparation and supportive services respectively.

Hawaii and Oklahoma both passed legislation establishing bodies to advise the state on healthcare workforce policy.

Arkansas and Maine passed legislation to support employer-driven training programs developed through partnerships between employers and educational institutions.

WIOA Implementation

In 2015, Arkansas and Louisiana were among states that enacted WIOA implementation legislation specifying the type of workforce plan the state should submit to the federal government under the new federal law. 

In 2015, California, Florida, and Virginia all enacted legislation that emphasizes skills strategies, such as sector partnerships and career pathways, as part of WIOA implementation.

Posted In: Job-Driven Investments, Career Pathways, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Maine, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia
NSC Hosts First Leadership Forum of its State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP)

Last week, NSC convened policymakers from seven states, along with researchers and philanthropic partners, for the first State Leadership Forum of its State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). The Forum was sponsored by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Ford Foundation.

SWEAP is helping to develop system-wide information about workforce education and training programs for state policy leaders. SWEAP aims to create better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how these programs can work together in their state, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment.

Policymakers from California, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island met for two days in Miami, FL to discuss leading-edge data tools and how to use those tools to make policies that close the skill gap. In addition to governors’ advisors, workforce agency leaders, and higher education policymakers, state senators from Maryland, Mississippi, and Ohio attended, as did a Delegate from the Maryland House of Representatives.

Andy Van Kleunen, NSC Executive Director and Chauncy Lennon, JPMorgan Chase’s Head of Workforce Initiatives, Global Philanthropy kicked off the Forum by describing how SWEAP can help policymakers better target resources to prepare people for middle-skill jobs. Florida State Senator (and former Senate President) Don Gaetz shared how he used data to drive policy that made Florida’s career and technical education programs more responsive to the labor market. Ruben Garcia of the Texas Workforce Commission and Rachel Zinn of Workforce Data Quality Campaign, explained SWEAP’s suite of data tools:

  • Dashboards use a few common metrics to report outcomes for education and workforce programs individually and for the workforce system as a whole
  • Pathway evaluators show how workers with different needs are helped and which combinations of programs and services are effective for whom
  • Supply and demand reports show how the supply of newly credentialed workers compares to the number of workers that employers demand


In discussions led by Chris King and Heath Prince of the University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center, state teams described their states’ skill gaps and their current efforts to use data and information to close these gaps. They also discussed opportunities to use SWEAP data tools to better align their states’ education and workforce programs with each other and with the labor market.

The Forum concluded with a discussion of the next phase of the SWEAP initiative. In 2015, SWEAP will work with a select number of states to develop a suite of data tools and to help policymakers use those tools to better prepare a range of job-seekers for skilled employment in their state.

For more information on SWEAP, watch our new “commercial” that explains how SWEAP can help state policymakers improve equity and efficiency across state skills programs.

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

Governors propose new workforce initiatives.

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,

More than a dozen governors have announced new legislative and budget proposals to support workforce development efforts in their state. As state budgets recover from the recession, these governors are targeting middle-skill training for increased investments, including proposals to provide support for employer-led sector partnerships, to align the state’s workforce system, to make technical and community college affordable, and to assist the long-term unemployed back to work. Below are a few of these gubernatorial initiatives.

The governors of Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin have requested funding for new or enhanced programs for middle-skill training. Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed $30 million to train incumbent and unemployed workers for middle-skill STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering and math) and other high demand/high wage fields, and to provide scholarships for students. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker requested a $35 million enhancement for Wisconsin’s Fast Forward program to support dual enrollment programs between school districts and technical colleges that target high demand jobs; increase technical college capacity to eliminate waiting lists in high demand fields; and support programs helping people with disabilities enter the workforce.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett requested $5 million in additional funding for three middle-skill job training programs for employer-driven training, including services to people with disabilities. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proposed a $4.5 million increase for the Missouri Works Training Program, a customized training program for employers. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proposed tripling state funding for apprenticeships, and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee requested a $500,000 enhancement from the state general fund for the state’s workforce investment system.  

Governors in Connecticut and Kentucky proposed new efforts to fill skill gaps in advanced manufacturing. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proposed $25 million to create an advanced manufacturing fund to support workforce training and other assistance for employers. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear proposed $24 million in general fund-supported bonds to build an advanced manufacturing training center to serve as a direct pipeline for high demand workers. 

Malloy also proposed measures to assist the long-term unemployed (LTU). He requested $3.6 million to establish a program to replicate Platform to Employment. The program provides five weeks of intensive job readiness training, behavioral health services, financial coaching, and eight weeks of subsidized work experience. Malloy also proposed legislation to prevent employers from screening out LTU applicants merely because they are unemployed.  

The governors of Ohio and Oregon introduced proposals to increase the alignment of their workforce development systems. Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed a single integrated state plan for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Adult Basic Education. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber requested legislation authorizing the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) to assist the governor in approving the plans of local workforce investment boards (LWIBs) and in establishing criteria for LWIB membership. The bill also authorized the SWIB to hold workforce agencies and LWIBs accountable for meeting performance goals.

Finally, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed funding to cover the cost of tuition for technical college students in high demand fields, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed free tuition for high school graduates if they attend a community college or college of applied technology.

NSC will continue to monitor and provide updates as these proposals move forward.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, Oregon, Georgia