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NSC state partners winning on skills training policies

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
NSC state partners winning on skills training policies

Photo: Partners from Colorado Skills2Compete pictured with State Senator Rhonda Fields, State Representative James Coleman, and Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore.

As state sessions come to a close, NSC’s partners are stacking wins across the country with governors, legislatures, and state agencies. Partners in a dozen states are advancing policies that will make skills training more available to workers in their states.  

NSC has worked with these partners over the past year through key state initiatives including SkillSPAN – a first-ever nationwide network of coalitions working to advance skills policies that expand economic opportunities for workers and their families while boosting local businesses. Taken together, these partners are making college more available to working people, broadening the apprenticeship pipeline, and expanding support services to remove barriers to skills training. 

Making college more available to working people

  • Expanding Georgia’s HOPE scholarship to more young adults: NSC teamed up with SkillSPAN partner Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Atlanta CareerRise, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Atlanta Civic Site of The Annie E. Casey Foundation to call on Georgia’s policymakers to make the state’s scholarship program available to more adults in order to close the middle-skill gap. This session, Georgia’s General Assembly extended the time that college students can earn the HOPE scholarship from seven to 10 years after high school. 

  • Funding the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship: SkillSPAN partner the United Way of Central Iowa successfully advocated for investments in Future Ready Iowa initiatives, including more investments in state tuition assistance. The Iowa legislature provided $13 million in funding for the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship, which helps students –including adults –cover financial aid gaps as they earn credentials for high-demand jobs.  

  • Reconnecting adults to postsecondary education and training in Michigan: SkillSPAN partner the United Way for Southeast Michigan is supporting a bipartisan effort by Governor Whitmer and legislative leaders to launch Michigan Reconnect. The program, which is under consideration in both the Michigan House and Senate, would provide a tuition-free pathway to an in-demand industry certificate or associate degree for Michigan adults.  

  • Expanding resources to low-income community college students in Oregon: NSC and partners at Portland Community College testified to the legislature on Oregon’s new Pathways to Opportunity Initiative. The initiative expands federal, state, and local resources to provide supports like college success and career coaching and help cover costs like tuition, fees, books, bus passes, and food. The initiative builds on another Oregon policy win: the expansion of SNAP Employment & Training partnerships at all 17 of Oregon’s community colleges.  

  • Offering free community college training to SNAP students in Connecticut: Last fall, NSC partners at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities expanded their partnership with the state’s Department of Social Services to offer free skills training at all 12 of the state’s community colleges for students receiving SNAP. This expansion reflects NSC’s prior technical assistance to help Connecticut shift to skills-based SNAP Employment & Training. 

Broadening the apprenticeship pipeline

  • Expanding apprenticeship in Illinois: Members of the Illinois team in NSC’s Work-Based Learning Academy, including Young Invincibles and SkillSPAN partner Chicago Jobs Council, successfully advocated for legislation that instructs the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to conduct a study on the potential expansion of apprenticeship programs in the state. The study must identify fields that support diverse and equitable apprenticeship growth and show how the state can better utilize different funding streams to support apprenticeship. The team also informed the Illinois Apprenticeship Expansion Program, a $2.5 million initiative to expand apprenticeship through regional intermediaries and navigators. 

  • Utilizing apprenticeship to shape the future of work in Texas: The Greater Houston Partnership, along with Educate Texas, supported the creation of the Commission on Texas Workforce of the Future. Codified by the Texas legislature, the Commission will develop recommendations to ensure Texas maintains its long-term global and economic competitiveness by ensuring the state is developing the qualified and skilled workforce. As part of its charge, the Commission must recommend ways to increase work-based learning, including opportunities for underrepresented workers and small and midsize companies.  

  • Raising awareness of work-based learning strategies in Oklahoma: Through our Work-Based Learning Academy, NSC is partnering with Oklahoma Works and others to host an Oklahoma Work-Based Learning Summit in June so that workforce and industry partners throughout the state can come together to learn about opportunities for expanding work-based learning. 

Expanding support services and removing barriers to skills training

  • Piloting an emergency support services fund in Colorado: The Colorado Skills2Compete Coalition successfully advocated for the state to create a fund to help cover the costs of support services like transportation, emergency child care, and work equipment for low-income people in skills training, job search, or at the start of employment. The Colorado legislature passed legislation to pilot the program with $250,000 in funding. 

  • Assessing workers’ childcare needs in Mississippi: NSC partners at the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative convened workforce development and human services leaders to discuss how childcare and skills training can grow the state’s skilled workforce. Following the discussion, Mississippi agencies are planning to ask workers about childcare needs when they’re pursuing training at the state’s American Jobs Centers.  

  • Expanding training opportunities for people who are incarcerated in Tennessee: SkillSPAN partner Complete Tennessee supported increased investment in the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative, which provides education opportunities to people who are incarcerated. The state quadrupled its investment in the initiative to $1 million, which among other changes, will expand career and technical education and postsecondary education in correctional facilities.   

Investing in strategies to secure a strong economic future for all Californians

With California’s policymakers in midst of budget negotiations, SkillSPAN partner California EDGE Coalition and other leaders in the Skills for California network are working to ensure that the state’s 2019-2020 budget invests in workforce development strategies that increase equity and economic opportunity. The Governor’s May budget revision included $10 million to plan and develop a data system that could work across the state’s education, workforce, and health and human services programs and be used to close equity gaps. It also included increased investment for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and the state’s High Road Training Partnership program, a sector partnership initiative of the California Workforce Development Board.  

 

Posted In: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee
SkillSPAN coalitions in GA, NC, and TN to boost training opportunities in the South

National Skills Coalition is deepening its efforts to bring skills training opportunities to more people in the South by providing increased support to its three southern SkillSPAN partners. NSC’s SkillSPAN (Skills State Policy Advocacy Network) is the first-ever nationwide network of non-partisan coalitions working to advance state skills training policies. Coalitions from ten states joined SkillSPAN in 2019.

Coalitions led by Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, North Carolina Justice Center, and Complete Tennessee are among SkillSPAN’s inaugural coalitions and currently represent the network’s presence in the South. With generous support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NSC will provide increased financial and technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of these coalitions. With this additional support, SkillSPAN leaders in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee will be able to bring new partners to the table to create policy changes that expand economic opportunity for workers and their families and advance racial equity in the workforce.

Each of these SkillSPAN leaders will build on work they’re doing as part of NSC’s Southern Skills Policy Initiative.  NSC launched this initiative last June to help partners in Southern states put forward state policies to support skills training:

  Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is working to expand financial aid so that more people who face financial barriers to postsecondary training, including workers of color, can earn middle-skill credentials.
  North Carolina Justice Center is working to develop better apprenticeship pathways for workers of color and other underrepresented workers.
  Complete Tennessee is working to leverage federal and state programs to support more adults as they pursue postsecondary training that leads to a career.

These policy changes are critical to building a stronger economy in these states and throughout the South. While most of the jobs in the South are middle-skill jobs, policymakers in Southern states have not created enough opportunities to help workers train for these jobs. In a recent report with the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis, we provided a skills policy roadmap for Southern states. We also underscored the need for a skilled and thriving economy to be an inclusive economy.  With more than four in ten Southerners being people of color, education and training policies that advance racial equity in the workforce will make the South’s workers, businesses, and the economy better off. We’re excited to provide additional support to our SkillSPAN partners in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to build a stronger Southern economy by creating more skills training opportunities for their state’s workers.

Posted In: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee
NSC’s new SkillSPAN will increase skills & job training opportunities for thousands in 25 states over next five years

Today, National Skills Coalition launches SkillSPAN (Skills State Policy Advocacy Network), a first-ever nationwide network of non-partisan coalitions that will bring skills and job training opportunities to thousands of people through policy changes in 25 states over the next five years.

SkillSPAN and NSC’s new Business Leaders United (BLU) state affiliate network will pass policies in the postsecondary education, workforce training, adult education, career and technical education, and safety net arenas to expand economic opportunities for workers and their families while boosting local business capacity.

We are launching this network at a critical time: skills training is a popular, bipartisan issue and many of the country’s governors ran on skills training as a critical plank in their education and economic platforms. SkillSPAN and BLU are poised to help these and other state leaders deliver on their skills training promises and address key economic challenges in their states.

SkillSPAN coalitions will include policy organizations, workforce advocates, community colleges, community-based organizations, businesses, unions, and others advocating for a shared agenda.

Ten state coalitions will join SkillSPAN in 2019, with an additional ten joining in 2020, and further growth in 2021. Fifteen states will have BLU affiliates by 2020. With an initial $3 million grant from Ballmer Group, NSC will provide grants to SkillSPAN coalitions and BLU state affiliates, along with an infrastructure to support cross-state learning and technical assistance.


Seizing an economic and political moment

Despite economic, political, and geographic differences, every state in the nation faces a common labor market challenge: jobs that require education and training beyond high school but not a bachelor’s degree make up the largest portion of the labor market; yet too few workers have access to training for these jobs, many of which pay family-supporting wages.

With unemployment at a record low and technology changing the way we work now and in the future, everyone who wants to build their skills – from people who are looking for a job to low-wage workers who want to upgrade their skills and take the next step in their career — should have the opportunity to do so. Training is important for people who want good jobs that can support their families, for businesses looking to adapt to continual industry changes, and for states whose economic growth and competitiveness depends on building a skilled and inclusive workforce.   

Across political parties and regions of the country, people have called on policy leaders to recognize this need and include skills training in education and jobs proposals. As governors and state legislators begin new terms this month, they are looking to respond.

SkillSPAN and the BLU affiliate network will provide capacity and infrastructure to seize these economic and political opportunities. In every statehouse, policymakers can support workers and businesses while strengthening the economy by investing in the skills of people – from the father who wants to train for a new career after being laid off to the young woman who wants to take on an apprenticeship instead of college debt.

As a national network, SkillSPAN will leverage the combined expertise of state coalition members and amplify their collective voices in state capitols across the nation.

 

Scaling what works for workers and business

SkillSPAN coalitions will advance policy changes that impact workers and businesses across a range of areas, including:

  • Protecting and increasing vital funding for successful skills training programs
  • Turning back efforts to impose work requirements in safety net programs and replacing them with polices to provide job training and supports to low‐income people, including those utilizing TANF, SNAP, and other income supports
  • Expanding apprenticeship and other forms of wage‐earning, work‐based learning, particularly for low‐income working adults and out‐of‐school youth
  • Making financial aid available to working people and creating new pathways into college programs for low‐skilled workers, along with support services
  • Helping states invest in sector partnerships so that participating companies—particularly small‐ and medium‐sized businesses— inform training and higher education efforts connected to their industry
  • Creating new opportunities for low‐wage workers with limited basic or English skills to acquire these skills in partnership with their employers, as well as local schools, community organizations, community colleges and unions
  • Expanding state data systems and publicly-available data tools so that policymakers and the public can know which programs place people in jobs and raise their incomes

Across these issues, SkillSPAN coalitions will work to ensure that policy changes advance racial equity in the workforce.

Inaugural coalitions

In 2019, coalitions in 10 states will join SkillSPAN. Despite a wide range of political and policy environments, these states share a need for comprehensive policies that secure a skilled workforce and a strong economic future for all residents. NSC has selected a nonprofit organization to lead each state coalition. The 2019 states and coalition lead organizations are:

  • California: California EDGE Coalition
  • Georgia: Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
  • Illinois: Chicago Jobs Council
  • Indiana: Indiana Institute for Working Families
  • Iowa: United Way of Central Iowa
  • Massachusetts: SkillWorks
  • Michigan: United Way for Southeast Michigan
  • North Carolina: North Carolina Justice Center
  • Tennessee: Complete Tennessee
  • Washington state

As they work to advance skills policies, SkillSPAN coalitions will leverage the voice of businesses in their states through NSC’s new BLU state affiliate network. In March 2019, National Skills Coalition will announce the members of that network in partnership with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. BLU is supported by NSC and National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and includes businesses from a range of industries who are working with local partners to train and hire residents for skilled jobs, or upskill their existing workforce, and who want policymakers to follow their lead and invest in workers’ skills. By working in partnership on shared agenda items, SkillSPAN coalitions and BLU affiliates will achieve policy wins for workers, businesses, and the economy.

Posted In: Massachusetts, Michigan, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington
Georgia should use financial aid to help close its middle skills gap

Georgia joins a number of states this month in convening a new session of the legislature and welcoming a new governor. One of the most pressing challenges facing these new leaders is the state’s middle skills gap. Most jobs in Georgia’s labor market – 55 percent – are middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high school education but less than a four-year degree. However, only 43 percent of Georgia workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

NSC’s new brief, Closing Georgia’s Skills Gap through Financial Aid, outlines why the state needs more workers with associate’s degrees in high-demand fields and details two steps that the state could take to fill this need: (1) extend the time to earn the HOPE scholarship and (2) expand HOPE Career Grants to include associate’s degrees. NSC authored this brief in partnership with several Georgia-based organizations – Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Atlanta CareerRise, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Atlanta Civic Site of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Producing more workers with associate’s degrees is only one part of filling Georgia’s middle skills gap, but it is a particularly important piece of meeting this goal. Currently Georgia does not produce enough associate’s degree graduates to meet employer demand. Between July 2016 and June 2017, Georgia produced about 19,000 associate’s degree holders while there are nearly 34,000 job postings requiring an associate’s degree.

Meanwhile Georgia’s associate’s degree students face significant financial need. Financial aid can help these students complete college, but because of program limitations HOPE - Georgia’s largest and most well-known college financial aid program – only reaches 15 percent of associate’s degree students.

To help close its middle-skills gap by supporting more students in securing associate’s degrees, Georgia should make two policy changes:

1.       Extend the time to earn the HOPE scholarship.

Associate’s degree students who are more than seven years removed from high school graduation are ineligible for the HOPE scholarship. More than two in five of Georgia’s associate’s degree students are older than twenty-five, making them likely ineligible for this crucial form of financial aid that can help them complete their associate’s degree and secure a well-paying job.

2.       Expand HOPE Career Grants to include associate’s degrees

Georgia has established HOPE Career Grants to provide additional help to students pursuing technical certificates and diplomas in high-demand fields. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to qualify for the grant. The combination of the HOPE Grant and the HOPE Career Grant covers tuition for Georgians pursuing certificates and diplomas in targeted fields. However, associate’s degree students in these in-demand HOPE Career Grant fields cannot access this financial aid. Allowing associate’s degree students to access the HOPE Career Grant can help employers meet their most pressing needs for talent.

Now, at the beginning of new gubernatorial and legislative terms, is a wonderful time for Georgia’s leaders to take bold new steps to address its middle skills gap.  NSC’s new brief shows exactly how they can begin.

Posted In: Skills Equity, Georgia
Southern states must build a skilled workforce for a stronger economy

Southern states face a skills gap and must adapt to a new U.S. economy in which most jobs require training beyond high school, according to a new report from the National Skills Coalition and the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis, Building a Skilled Workforce for a Stronger Southern Economy.

Most of the jobs in the South are middle-skill jobs, requiring education or training beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. However, across the South, there are not enough workers trained to fill middle-skill jobs.

This middle-skill gap, however, isn’t insurmountable. Southern states could step up to the challenge of educating more of the region’s adults to close this gap. Focusing on grade school students alone won’t be enough to close the skills gap now. If each and every one of the South’s graduating high school students were to stay in the region and train for open jobs that require postsecondary education, there would still be unfilled positions.

Moreover, if southern states are going to close their skill gaps, they must provide more opportunities for all adults – including people of color – to access high-quality  education and training. More than four in ten Southerners are people of color. A skilled and thriving southern economy must be an inclusive economy.

To help states realize economic improvement, this report includes a roadmap of critical steps states may take to establish policies that could help them close their skills gaps. State policymakers could:

  • Use workforce development strategies, such as sector partnerships and work-based learning, as economic development tools capable of meeting industry needs.
  • Invest in communities to implement high-quality workforce development strategies at the local level.
  • Establish job-driven financial aid programs that are available to a wide range of students.
  • Form middle-skill training pathways and include comprehensive supportive services that enable completion.
  • Create state data systems that provide accountability on how training programs are helping residents with diverse needs get skilled jobs.


State policymakers could consider also easing their path to implementation of these steps by taking the following actions, which could help unite a broad set of stakeholders around a common plan for skills development:

  • Set a bold goal for increasing the number of adults trained for skilled jobs.
  • Create a cross-agency “Skills Cabinet,” and task agency leaders with working together to develop and implement a strategy for meeting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal for adults.


In addition to the roadmap, this report also includes examples of current policy from southern states, proving that these policy changes may be implemented in the region’s unique context. Residents, businesses, and state economies are counting on their leaders to examine these policies and take the appropriate steps that will help them thrive now and in the future. In conjunction with the launch of this southern-focused report, National Skills Coalition is launching its Southern Skills Policy Initiative. Through this Initiative, National Skills Coalition will work with teams in five states –Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – to advance policies that can build a skilled workforce.

Over the next year, National Skills Coalition will work intensively with partners in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to put forward state policies that help workers and businesses in those states to get the skills they need to compete:

In Georgia, we will promote policies that prepare more residents for skilled jobs by making it easier for people with low incomes to afford postsecondary training. Partner organizations include Center for Working Families, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation Atlanta Civic Site, Atlanta Career Rise, and Metro Atlanta Chamber.

In North Carolina, we will conduct research and engage key stakeholders to build more equitable pathways and work-based learning opportunities for skilled careers for students and workers of color and other underserved populations. Initial partner organizations include North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Community College System, and Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board.

In Tennessee,we will identify policies that address the non-academic and advising needs of working students so they can succeed in postsecondary training, as well as opportunities to promote apprenticeship, work-based learning, and postsecondary training that responds to industry needs. . Partner organizations include Complete Tennessee and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

National Skills Coalition will also work with partners in Mississippi and Texas in 2018 to support in-state discussions on apprenticeship and work-based learning.

In Mississippi, we will discuss policies that help more parents build their skills while supporting their families by providing child care assistance to workers in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Partner organizations include Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative and Moore Community House Women in Construction Program.

In Texas, we will discuss policies that expand apprenticeship and work-based learning opportunities for both adults and young people. Initial partner organizations include Educate Texas, Austin Community College, and the United Ways of Texas.

Through the duration of the Southern Skills Policy Initiative, NSC will create opportunities for partners from each state to share lessons learned with each other and other community leaders in the region.

 

Posted In: Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas

Georgia Announces Grants to Support Sector Partnerships

  ·   By Rachel Hirsch and Amy Lancaster
Georgia Announces Grants to Support Sector Partnerships

This summer, the Georgia Department of Economic Development awarded $1.5 million to support the development of sector partnerships in six workforce regions in the state. The awards are part of a $3 million competitive grant program to build sector partnerships across the state under its High Demand Career Initiative.

Sector partnerships bring together multiple employers within an industry to collaborate with colleges, schools, labor, workforce agencies, community organizations and other community stakeholders to align training with the skills needed for that industry to grow and compete. These partnerships are required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and Georgia is using WIOA state discretionary dollars to fund its grant program.

In addition to providing grants, the Georgia Department of Economic Development is offering technical assistance to help regions develop partnerships. The department has created a Sector Partnership Guide hosted regional workshops, and is planning a grantee conference.

A coalition led by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and in collaboration with Atlanta CareerRise, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and Georgia Business Leaders United (BLU), started working with National Skills Coalition in 2015 to promote sector partnerships as a key way to address the skill needs of Georgia’s workers and businesses. Coalition members believe the state’s support for sector partnerships will help communities across Georgia make progress toward closing the skills gap. In fact, Metro Atlanta’s five workforce boards were jointly awarded a $400,000 two-year grant to develop partnerships in the healthcare, IT, and logistics sectors, in collaboration with Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta CareerRise. 

National Skills Coalition has advocated for states to provide funding, technical assistance, and guidance to support regional sector partnerships positioned to close the skill gap in key industries. We’re pleased to add Georgia to the list of states with such a policy in place. For more on how to develop a sector partnership policy in your state, check out NSC’s Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit.

 

Rachel Hirsch is State Network Manager at National Skills Coalition. Amy Lancaster is the Director of Workforce Development at Metro Atlanta Chamber, which works to advance economic growth, enhance the business climate and improve the quality of life for each and every person who calls Atlanta home.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Georgia
National Skills Coalition hosts first Southern States Convening on Skills Policies

On May 8, nearly 40 state and national workforce leaders gathered in Atlanta, GA to take part in National Skills Coalition’s southern states convening on skills policies. The event, co-hosted with Atlanta CareerRise, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and Metro Atlanta Chamber, provided a forum for cross-state sharing on skills policies and practical strategies for moving them forward in southern states. The convening was made possible through the generous financial support of JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

While the South is a large region of the country with a growing population, many of our southern state partners have expressed concerns that too many people are left out of economic opportunity, in part because not everyone has the chance to get the education and training required to find a family-supporting job in today’s economy. This doesn’t just hurt workers and their families; it also hurts businesses that depend on a skilled workforce to grow.

That’s why we teamed up with our Georgia partners to host a day’s worth of cross-state discussions on advancing skills policies in southern states where partners are addressing similar regional issues. Partners from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee participated. Together, participants represented policy and research organizations, community colleges, funder collaboratives, business associations, and workforce practitioners, as well as national organizations and foundations working in the South.  

In addition to discussing common issues across the region, the convening featured existing examples of skills policies from southern states. Collin Callaway, Arkansas Community Colleges and Kenneth Wheatley, Mississippi Community College Board discussed their states’ policies that support career pathways at community colleges – the Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative and Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST). Brad Neese, Apprenticeship Carolina described how the program uses registered apprenticeship to help align the state’s workforce development and economic development strategies. And Laura Ward, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, discussed Tennessee Reconnect and why helping adults earn postsecondary credentials matters for businesses.

Participants also used small group discussions to continue to share across states on topics such as apprenticeship and work-based learning, sector partnerships and skills policies for states with rural communities, pathways to credentials for less-skilled workers, and skills policies as part of economic development strategies. Peer advisors from southern states led each of the small group discussions.   

At the end of the convening, National Skills Coalition committed to working with participants to identify opportunities to continue cross-state sharing and network-building among workforce development leaders in southern states. To learn more, please email Brooke DeRenzis, State Network Director.  

Posted In: Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Georgia Releases New Scorecard and Earnings Report

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

Students in Georgia now have an online tool from which they can learn more about potential educational options in the state. In early January 2017, Georgia's Governor's Office of Student Achievement released the Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings (GHLE) dashboard. The interactive tool allows users to see how much money graduates of Georgia’s universities and technical colleges are earning one and five years after graduation. Users can view this information by institution, degree type, or major.

 Georgia Dashboard

The state also released a companion report, Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings, analyzing graduates earnings information. The report found that wages tend to increase as students achieve higher levels of education – although earnings can vary significantly between programs of study and institutions.

The GHLE dashboard and companion report are populated with data from GA AWARDS, Georgia’s P20-W longitudinal data system. GA AWARDS contains data from the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Independent College Association, the National Student Clearinghouse, the Georgia Department of Labor, and the Georgia Student Finance Commission. You can learn more about GA AWARDS and Georgia’s data infrastructure by visiting Georgia’s state page.

WDQC applauds Georgia for making more information about education and training options available to students and their parents. Our staff is available to provide assistance to other states looking to create data tools. 

Posted In: Georgia, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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

BLU employer profile: Mike Kenig

  ·   By Scott Ellsworth,
BLU employer profile: Mike Kenig

This month I had an opportunity to ask Mike some questions about where he works and why he takes so much of his time to help develop a more robust workforce system in Georgia. Read our conversation below:

BLU: Why did you get involved in workforce work?

Mike: I have a history of working on things that aren’t easy. As the construction industry was struggling to find employees, I thought this was a great place to focus my energy. Helping the industry find solutions to complicated issues is one of the areas I found myself able to make a valuable contribution. I have now become passionate about developing a solution to this issue, I’m all about the solutions!

BLU: As busy as you are, how do you find time for workforce development?

Mike: I have a very unique role. About 20 years ago, Holder Construction Company’s CEO gave me a role with incredible flexibility to get involved in business critical initiatives. I spend a significant amount of my time on working with various trade associations within the construction industry and the initiatives and priorities these groups establish. Virtually all of these groups have been discussing the topic of workforce for years, but not making any real progress. Building on the experience I learned from BLU, I have significantly stepped up my efforts to increase and coordinate the various group’s efforts in the area of workforce development.

BLU: What do you value about being a part of BLU?

Mike: At this year’s BLU meeting, it clicked for me that we are a collective of businesses focused on Workforce Partnerships. The future of our country is dependent on being competitive with our workforce, so we need to band together as a business community to address these issues nationally and at our local level.

BLU: Why should other employers get involved in advocating for employer-led workforce partnerships?

Mike: Advocacy is critical at all levels - national, state and local. We can’t do this alone and we as employers have a much stronger voice when we come together to advocate. As a matter of fact when I came back to Georgia after my first Fly-In, I was looking for our local BLU. Since we didn’t have one, I’ve been partnering with my local industry association and looking to expand to our chambers to work on these issues at a local level and to see if we can organize businesses around workforce issues.

BLU: Tell me about Holder Construction Company.

Mike: Holder Construction Company is a commercial general contractor with approximately 750 employees and offices across the United States. We are consistently ranked as the largest data center builder in the U.S., and are involved in many other interesting projects such as a number of corporate headquarters, aviation projects and the new Falcon’s football stadium. One thing that I am especially proud of is that we have competed for the past 11 years in Fortune magazine’s best places to work for medium businesses and have been listed every year.

BLU: What is a hot button issue for you?

Mike: I was surprised to find that out of every 100 kids, approximately 22 don’t graduate high school; 26 graduate but are not going to college; 21 go to college but don’t finish their degree and only the last 30 or so go on to get their college degree. There is a lot of focus on the 30% that are going to and graduating from college, but we lose the other 70%. I don’t think we are doing enough for that segment of our population; we need to focus more on the 70%.

I think the community college debate is getting lost in the framing. The debate has become around the word “free”. I have learned from my engagement with BLU that spending on workforce training is an investment, an investment that is not lost for society.  While people don’t necessarily want more “giveaways,” we need to make people aware that the community college and career and technical education create an environment for people to gain technical skills that will lead to jobs and self-sufficiency, thus increasing our nation’s ability to compete globally.

The business community needs to stand up and push for technical training and community colleges. As we have said through BLU, a four-year degree is not the only option. Effective community colleges engage businesses of all sizes, like those in BLU, to be sure the skills being taught are delivered in a consistent and high quality manner and meet the needs of the business community so that when they graduate they have the skills required for the jobs that are available. It is the responsibility of the business community to leverage workforce partnerships to communicate the skills that we need so that the journey from K-12 to community college to a career is seamless.

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Higher Education Access, Georgia, Business Leaders United
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