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WDQC applauds new MD law to measure non-degree credential attainment

On May 15, 2018, Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan signed the Career Preparation Expansion Act, which will help Maryland measure non-degree credential attainment and narrow the middle-skills gap by requiring certain entities to provide the state with data about licenses, industry certifications, and certificates. WDQC advocates for states to count non-degree credentials and provided assistance on the legislation.

The Career Preparation Expansion Act requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to collect (1) licensing data from the Department of Health and Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; (2) certificate data from postsecondary institutions; and (3) certification data from any industry certifier that receives state funding. It also requires MHEC to share this data with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) so that MLDS may link that information with workforce data in order to determine outcomes, such as the rate of employment.

As outlined in WDQC’s recent 50-state scan “Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment,” many states are still working towards collecting data on certificates from non-credit programs, licenses, and industry certifications. This data is essential for helping the state understand how many of its residents are obtaining a postsecondary credential and how to narrow the state’s middle skills gap. The National Skills Coalition estimates that between 2014-2024 forty-two percent of jobs in Maryland will be middle skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. This information, particularly once matched with employment information, can help the state formulate better policy that can narrow the skills gap and create a thriving economy.

To our knowledge, the Career Preparation Expansion Act is one of the first bills in the country to require data collection from industry certifiers and may provide an example of how other states can begin to collect more information about industry certifiers.

WDQC worked with Maryland legislators to develop this bill, and Senior Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff provided written testimony in support.  National Skills Coalition member, Jobs Opportunity Task Force, supported the bill as well. If you are interested in collecting better data about non-degree credentials in your state, we encourage you to contact WDQC

Posted In: Maryland, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Maryland uses nearly $1 million in WIOA discretionary funds to support career pathways via co-enrollment

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) recently announced the award of nearly $1 million in discretionary Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds, also known as Governor’s Reserve funds. The awards will support local workforce boards and their partners in implementing innovative career pathways programs.

Workforce boards were able to apply for up to $250,000 in funding to develop innovative demonstration projects with a consortium of local partners, including adult education providers and business partners. Eligible applicants were provided with a menu of potential interventions that had been identified by the state as best practices.

The focus of this first round of awards is on career pathways that use an integrated approach that combines foundational skills and occupational or industry-specific training. The target population is adults who have foundational skills gaps in literacy, numeracy, or spoken English.

While co-enrollment in WIOA Title I workforce and Title II adult education services has long been a goal for the public workforce system, national numbers have remained stubbornly low. Maryland’s use of discretionary funds to foster connections between Title I and Title II providers represents a notable step towards better coordination. It comes on the heels of the state’s earlier efforts to facilitate joint assessment across WIOA partners.

Specific areas of focus for the newly funded projects are as follows:

  • Mid-Maryland (Howard and Carroll Counties) will use a multi-pronged approach to connect English Language Learners with careers in allied healthcare, starting with training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. The partners will implement Integrated Education and Training, Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education, English Language Acquisition, and distance learning activities, create a Transition Specialist staff position, and provide a bridge class to help participants make the leap.

  • Prince George's County will create career pathways in construction for English Language Learners through the development of pre-apprenticeship programs and a registered apprenticeship. Occupational focus areas are commercial painting, facilities maintenance, and trowel/block masonry. 

  • Baltimore City will utilize Integrated Education and Training via the I-BEST model to connect adult learners enrolled in WIOA Title II programming with a healthcare career pathway. The project will train individuals to become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in partnership with the Baltimore City Fire Department.


Notably, two of the three projects respond to the sizeable role played by English Language Learners in Maryland’s workforce, and the importance of ensuring that such workers have effective on-ramps to occupational training opportunities. National Skills Coalition previously highlighted this issue in our Immigrants and Middle-Skill Jobs in Maryland fact sheet.

While the use of Integrated Education and Training approaches is mandated by WIOA, states and localities have relatively wide latitude in determining the extent to which this model is adopted, the particular type(s) of IET to be implemented, and the number of individuals participating in such programs. The best-known version of IET remains the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model developed in Washington State.

(National Skills Coalition has previously documented a range of efforts by state policymakers to support IET that goes beyond what is required under WIOA. Our 50-state scan details the status of such policies in each state, while our state policy toolkit highlights the key elements of a robust IET policy and provides model language that advocates can use in their own states.)

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Adult Basic Education, Immigration, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Maryland

Maryland expands access to state financial aid for GED earners

  ·   By Michael Richardson
Maryland expands access to state financial aid for GED earners

This blog post was written in collaboration with Caryn York, Executive Director of Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF).  

This month, Maryland expanded access to one of the state’s largest need-based tuition grants for low income residents who have earned their GED. Senate bill 842 and House bill 781 passed unanimously in both the Maryland Senate and House. The bill, sponsored by Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway (Baltimore City- D, District 43), and co-sponsored by Maryland Delegate Nick J. Mosby (Baltimore City- D, District 40), and Delegate Jheanelle K. Wilkins (Montgomery County- D, District 20) will allow individuals who have secured their High School Diploma (HSD) via the GED test with College-Ready score levels to become eligible for the Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant, a need-based grant that provides up to 100% of tuition and fees for postsecondary education. On February 28th, National Skills Coalition joined Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) and other partners to expand GED testers’ access to postsecondary education in Maryland. We testified at the Maryland Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs hearing in support of the Higher Education – Educational Excellence Award Eligibility – High School Diploma by Examination bill (SB 842).

Many GED testers want to continue their education to gain skills that lead to higher-wage jobs. Yet the cost of tuition remains a barrier for low-wage workers across Maryland, including those who pursue their high school diploma through the GED. SB 842/HB 781 will help address this challenge by giving those with their GED credential access to one of the state’s largest need-based tuition grants for low-income students. JOTF has been front and center on SB 842/ HB 781 through its work advocating for better skills, jobs, and incomes for Maryland residents.

Equal access to need-based funding would also assist the state of Maryland in closing its skill gap and reaching its postsecondary attainment goal. National Skills Coalition has found that middle skill jobs account for 48 percent of Maryland’s labor market but only 38 percent of the state’s workers are trained to the middle skill level. Maryland has recognized this gap and has established an ambitious goal for postsecondary attainment, aiming to increase the percentage of state residents with a postsecondary degree to 55 percent by 2024. On average, 3,500 Marylanders each year receive their High School Diploma via GED testing. Even if only a portion of these GED earners went on to pursue postsecondary training, it would move the state closer to closing the skill gap and achieving the statewide attainment goal.

National Skills Coalition believes that preparing people who earn their high school equivalency credential for college and careers is important for states’ overall economic health and essential to closing states’ middle skill gaps. NSC has long advocated for investments in state programs and policies that support high-quality adult education that enables people with foundational skill gaps to gain access to family-wage jobs. We urge states to take a look at their current policies and make sure that financial aid is available and accessible to high school equivalency credential earners and non-traditional students.

Read Michael’s full testimony and view the webcast of the hearing.

Posted In: Maryland
New Maryland and Michigan fact sheets: Immigrants can help meet demand for middle-skill workers

Two new fact sheets from National Skills Coalition highlight the important role that immigrant workers play in filling middle-skill jobs in Michigan and Maryland.

While immigration settlement patterns differ substantially between the two states, in both cases, immigrant workers will be vital to helping the states meet the demand for middle skill workers and respond to local industries’ talent needs.

To meet these demands, states will need to ensure that their talent-development pipelines are inclusive of the many immigrants who are poised to benefit from investments in their skills: 41 percent of adult immigrants in Michigan and 39 percent in Maryland have not gone beyond high school in their education.

Maryland: A Quickly Growing Immigrant Population Meets an Ambitious Postsecondary Goal

Maryland has a steadily growing immigrant population.  The state has seen its foreign-born population more than double from 6.6 percent in 1990 to 15.2 percent today.

Immigrants in Maryland are much more likely to be of working age:  80 percent are between the ages of 18-64, compared to just 60 percent of native-born residents. Maryland immigrants also have a substantially higher labor force participation rate: 72.7 percent of adult immigrants in Maryland are in the labor force, compared to 65.3 percent of native-born adults

The state has recently established an ambitious goal for postsecondary attainment: By 2025, Maryland aims to increase the percentage of state residents between twenty-five and sixty-four years old with a postsecondary degree to 55 percent. Meeting this goal will require investments in skill-building for all Marylanders, including those born abroad.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Maryland’s Untapped Assets

 

Michigan: A Large Immigrant Population is Part of the Middle-Skill Solution  

Michigan is home to approximately 652,000 immigrants, who comprise almost 7 percent of state residents.  As a result, they make up a vital role in Michigan’s labor market. This role will continue growing as the immigrant population increases; already, the share of immigrants in the state’s population has increased by 74 percent from 3.8 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent today.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) responded to the growing importance of the state’s immigrant workforce by establishing the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) by executive order in 2014. A primary role of MONA is to build and strengthen relationships between immigrant workers and the state’s public workforce system.

The demand for middle-skill workers is anticipated to remain strong in Michigan, with 50 percent of new job openings expected to be at the middle skill-level. In order for Michigan to capitalize on this demand and draw on the full talents and abilities of their residents, the state will need to invest in the skills of native-born and immigrant workers alike.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Michigan’s Untapped Assets

Posted In: Immigration, Michigan, Maryland
New Maryland policy will encourage better coordination between WIOA Title I and Title II

Policy guidance recently issued by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) is spurring local adult education and workforce providers to spell out how they are working together to assess program participants. The most recent guidance was issued in April 2017. It is aimed at local workforce development areas and adult education providers funded by Maryland under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The policy will help to address a problem that is widespread nationally: Adult education and workforce program participants are often subjected to repeated, sometimes redundant tests to meet program reporting requirements. Better coordination across WIOA Title I workforce and Title II adult education programs can help identify instances where a single assessment result can be used to satisfy more than one reporting requirement, thus reducing the time and expense required to administer multiple tests to a single participant.

NSC recently sat down for a conversation with Erin Roth, Director of Policy in the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning at Maryland’s DLLR (pictured above). Edited excerpts of that conversation are below.

Q. Maryland is one of a minority of states in which oversight of WIOA Title II adult education services is housed within the same agency that oversees workforce development. Did having the state stakeholders under one umbrella help you to formulate this policy?

I’m glad you mentioned that. We worked really hard to make sure that all of the relevant State and local stakeholders were engaged in the process of developing this policy. Everybody brings different expertise and perspectives to the table, and we didn’t want to overlook any considerations as we were drafting the policy. If you want people to not just comply with a policy but really embrace the spirit of it, you have to incorporate their input from the beginning.

Q. Who were those stakeholders? Can you help us get a sense of the different types of organizations that were at the table?

We pulled together a diverse group of experts, including representatives from community colleges and local workforce areas, to work alongside State leadership from labor, education and human services. To ensure we had a good balance of perspectives, it was important to include a mix of local staff who oversee operations in addition to the individuals who administer assessments as a part of their everyday job duties.

Q. Maryland, like every state, has to report on participants’ Educational Functioning Level (EFL) gains for WIOA Title II participants, and on Measurable Skill Gains for both WIOA Title I and Title II participants. Did you develop this policy in response to those federal requirements?

We obviously want to comply with federal requirements, but actually, we started this alignment work back in 2015, realizing it was the right thing to do for our customers. Maryland is really leveraging WIOA by using it as an opportunity to evaluate existing processes and improve the customer experience within the workforce system.

Measuring EFLs isn’t a new concept for our system, but aligning the activities in this way is mostly new, and it has required hard work and honest conversations between our local partners. I do believe that strengthened coordination between our Title I workforce and Title II adult education providers will contribute to EFL gains and positive outcomes with Measurable Skill Gains performance reporting.

But more importantly, I hope that our alignment efforts will increase the likelihood that customers will succeed. We know that a lot of Marylanders could benefit from adult education services to help them access job training and make progress along career pathways. We want to make sure these individuals stay engaged, and we think that limiting the number of standardized tests they’re required to take -- through increasing coordination and trust between partners -- will help.

Q. Let’s talk about that. One of the big stumbling blocks for joint assessment is that different parts of the workforce and adult education systems may not trust each other’s assessment processes – and thus, may administer their own tests “just to be sure.”

Any time you have people who don’t work directly with each other, it’s possible for there to be misunderstandings or mistrust about how processes work. We wanted to address that by providing plenty of joint training opportunities for staff and by laying out some clear guidelines for what good assessment standards should include. We asked our local areas to articulate how they’re approaching assessments in their WIOA Local Plans. That way people aren’t guessing about how their colleagues in other parts of the system are carrying out the assessment functions.

Q. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. How exactly does your policy move the system toward better coordination of assessments?

We used the Local WIOA Plan process as the driving mechanism. Under our policy, local areas were required to spell out these five items, at a minimum, in their Local Plans:

  • Outline the agreed-upon steps that will be taken to align basic education skills and English language assessments within the local area, including, but not limited to, any Memoranda of Understanding entered into by the workforce development and adult learning partners;
  • Identify how assessment scores will be shared among WIOA Title I areas and Title II providers (Consideration must be given to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA));
  • Identify who will conduct which of the approved assessments and when such assessments will be conducted, consistent with the Department’s policy;
  • Specify how the local area will coordinate testing between workforce development and adult education providers; and
  • Outline how the local area will ensure that test administrators will be trained in accordance with this policy and applicable testing guidelines set forth by the applicable test publisher.

To answer these questions, local workforce and adult education providers needed to have conversations on how best to work together to align and serve mutual customers.

Q. So just to clarify, you required coordination, but you didn’t tell local areas how to coordinate?

That’s correct. We thought it was more appropriate for local areas to determine the most efficient approach given their particular considerations and context.

Q. When does the policy take effect?

We’re requiring full implementation to be effective July 1, 2017.

Q. The adult education landscape looks quite different across the various states, but federal WIOA requirements are the same across the country. Are there any lessons you learned in developing this policy in Maryland that might be applicable for other advocates who are tackling this issue?

Resist the temptation to oversimplify. Aligning assessments is important and doable, but it is more complex than it may seem. At first, it was tempting for us to create a blanket requirement for the whole state where every provider would just use the same assessment. Sure, that would have made sharing scores easier, but it would have been a miss in bigger ways and likely would have resulted in a disservice to our customers.

By including local experts in the State’s planning process from the beginning, we were able to better understand the complexities and nuances at play. It also helped us to recognize that we needed to consider the budget and planning implications this policy shift would require. And that meant building in plenty of time for local conversations and planning to occur before moving into full implementation mode. 

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Maryland

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

Maryland enacts major workforce legislation

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,
Maryland enacts major workforce legislation

On April 11, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 317, More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017, a bill that the Governor requested. The many features of the bill include a business tax credit linked to job training, a tax credit for apprenticeships, a student financial aid program for non-credit training, and a goal for the percentage of high school students completing secondary career and technical education or other skills training.

Many states offer a tax break for new businesses or businesses increasing employment. SB 317 does that and more. It authorizes a business income tax credit for up to 10 years for new or expanding manufacturers equal to 5.75 percent of wages paid for qualified positions. The business must be located in Baltimore City, an economically distressed county, or on a site of 3,000 or more acres. But what is unique about SB 317, is that in order to qualify for the credit the manufacturer must offer “an ongoing job skills enhancement training program or a postsecondary education program that is approved by the Department of Commerce.”

For apprenticeships, the bill creates a tax credit against the business income tax for firms that employ an apprentice for at least seven months during a taxable year. The apprentice must be in a program registered with the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council. The tax credit is equal to $1,000 for the first year of employment for each apprentice, and may be carried forward to succeeding tax years until the full amount of the credit is claimed. Total credits are capped at $500,000 annually. In addition, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) must issue recommendations for creating apprenticeship programs at state agencies and on combining youth apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. According to Grant Shmelzer, the Executive Director of IEC Chesapeake, the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc., “This bill shows Maryland’s commitment to leading the country in expansion and promotion of apprenticeship based upon the needs of the residents and business in the state.”

The Act also creates a new $2 million financial aid program for students in non-credit training at a community college, Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships. To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must be a Maryland resident or have graduated from a Maryland high school and enrolled in a “Workforce Development Sequence” of courses—training related to job preparation, apprenticeship, licensure, certification, or job skills enhancement. An award may be used for tuition, mandatory fees, and other costs of attendance. A student may receive up to $2,000 per year. This new aid program is consistent with National Skills Coalition’s call for job-driven financial aid, and NSC provided technical assistance on this part of the bill.

Finally, The bill requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with DLLR and the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, to develop annual statewide goals such that by January 1, 2025, 45 percent of high school students successfully complete career and technical education, earn an industry-recognized occupational or skill credential, or complete a registered youth or other apprenticeship before graduating high school. And, by December 1, 2017, the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center and the Governor’s Workforce Development Board must develop annual income earnings goals for high school graduates who have not earned at least a two-year college degree by age 25.

See here to view the full Act.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Maryland

Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

  ·   By Sapna Mehta
Governors unveil 2017 workforce proposals

Governors across the nation are proposing new measures to increase middle-skill training.  Among the most common proposals are state support for apprenticeships and new investments in community college training, including free tuition. 

California Governor Jerry Brown proposed an additional $150 million for grants to support community colleges to develop and implement “guided pathways programs, an integrated, institution-wide approach” to improve student success.  The Governor also proposed utilizing $923,000 in federal funds to expand existing apprenticeship programs and create new programs in non-traditional and emerging industries.

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan proposed $41 million for the Going Pro Program, a job training program that focuses on in-demand occupations in advanced manufacturing, construction, information technology and healthcare. The Governor also spoke of the need to work with legislators and the private sector to increase the number of registered apprenticeships in the state.

Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada proposed a $21 million investment in career and technical education programs at the state’s four community colleges. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf requested $12 million in new funding to establish the Manufacturing PA initiative – a partnership between the Department of Community and Economic Development, research universities, community colleges, and other training providers to foster growth and innovation in manufacturing.  Of the $12 million, $5 million is for a manufacturing training-to-career grant program, which would facilitate partnerships between manufacturers and community colleges and technical providers, to link job training to career pathways through programs such as apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and paid internships. The Governor also proposed $4 million to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including grants for employers of up to $2,000 for each registered apprentice.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin proposed a $5 million increase in state funds and a new $5 million program for the Department of Workforce Development to make grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System for in-demand certification programs for high school students. The Governor also proposed $5 million for a registered apprenticeship program.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan proposed the Student Debt Relief Act, which would allow “Marylanders to deduct one hundred percent of the interest paid on their student loans from their state income tax return.” Additionally, as part of the Governor’s $5 million 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative, he proposed opening six new P-TECH high schools, and funding to support students currently enrolled in existing schools.  P-TECH schools partner with employers and colleges to provide secondary to postsecondary pathways in STEM.   The Jobs Initiative also includes a $3 million investment in cyber job training grants, modeled after Maryland’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) workforce training program.  The Governor also announced a $1 million investment in Maryland Partnership for Workforce Quality, to encourage employers to invest in employee training.   

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed the $4 million Learn to Earn program, which would offer scholarships for training and certificates in certain fields, as well as transportation and child care subsidies to make it easier for people to attend the trainings.

Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island proposed $2 million for the Community College of Rhode Island Westerly Job Skills Training Center, which prepare students for jobs in advanced manufacturing in partnership with employers, and $2 million for the state’s TechHire initiative for training in technology related fields.  The Governor also proposed free tuition for two years at the state’s public colleges: University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.  Additionally, she proposed expanding P-TECH high schools.  

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb proposed investing $2 million to create regional Jobs Ready Grants to help incumbent workers earn in-demand credentials or certificates.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed a budget enhancement of $1 million for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program, which supports 124 different training programs at Virginia’s Community colleges.  The Governor also proposed requiring community colleges to award college credit for apprenticeships and other related programs, expanding access to in-demand credentials for non-traditional students. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Excelsior Scholarship Program, a “last-dollar scholarship” to provide free tuition at the state’s public two- and four-year colleges to residents earning up to $125,000 annually.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed tuition-free community college education for all adults without a post-secondary degree.  Currently, adults without post-secondary degrees can attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology tuition-free through Tennessee Reconnect, and only recent high school graduates can apply for “last-dollar scholarships” to attend the state’s community colleges through Tennessee Promise. Funding for the new adult scholarships would come from the state’s lottery proceeds.

Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed piloting the Accelerated Completion of Technical Studies program, which would provide financial support to low-income students pursuing associate degrees at community colleges for in-demand jobs.  This is modeled after a similar successful program at the City University of New York.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas proposed free tuition at two-year colleges and technical schools for high school students who enroll in high-demand fields, such as computer science or welding.  The grants, known as Arkansas Future Grants, would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  They would be paid for by repurposing $8.2 million in general revenue funds from other workforce and higher education grants.

Posted In: Arkansas, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin

Maryland Dashboard Answers Research Questions

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

The Maryland Longitudinal Data Center has recently added new dashboards to its website that will allow policymakers to easily assess outcomes and answer research questions such as “what happens to students who start at community colleges and do not go on to 4-year institutions?” and “what are the workforce outcomes for Maryland students who earn a high school diploma but do not transition to postsecondary education or training?” 

These dashboards explore the postsecondary and workforce outcomes of the state’s high school and community college students. One dashboard shows postsecondary enrollment and wages for the 2009 cohort of first-time students at Maryland Community Colleges. It reveals that by 2015, students who graduated with a degree or certificate from a Maryland Community College had the best wage outcomes, followed closely by students who later graduated from a 4-year institution. A second dashboard shows the high school outcomes, postsecondary enrollment, and wage outcomes for a group of students who either graduated from a Maryland high school, earned an equivalency, or withdrew from high school in 2009.

Maryland Chart on Postsecondary Data

Dashboards such as these can help policymakers evaluate education and training programs and create informed policies that promote strong outcomes. In the future, Maryland plans to enable more evaluation by adding additional dashboards that can answer questions such as “how many individuals are both enrolled in school or college and employed, and what are their wages?” and “what is the relationship between wage and employment status and degree fields?”

Creating dashboards for policymakers is a key element of WDQC’s 13-point state blueprint for an inclusive, aligned, and market relevant data system. 

Posted In: Maryland, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
NSC Releases Recommendations on Building Skills through SNAP E&T

After a year-long collaboration working to help four states expand their SNAP E&T programs, NSC and Seattle Jobs Initiative have released a policy brief with best practices for states. The policy brief, “Building Skills through SNAP Employment and Training: Recommendations from Lessons Learned in Four States” offers recommendations to states based on our work with Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, and Oregon.

Specifically, the brief makes the following recommendations for states looking to expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs:

  • Staff and stakeholders should work with SNAP E&T agency leadership to develop a vision for a skills-focused program and implement a strategy to achieve that vision.
  • States should use pilot programs to test and refine strategies for expanding SNAP E&T programs.
  • SNAP E&T programs should build on the strengths and experience of existing workforce development efforts, and should align SNAP E&T with other programs, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • SNAP E&T programs should use federal funding and administrative tools to partner with community colleges and community-based organizations as service providers.

The brief also identifies a set of common challenges in developing skills-based SNAP E&T programs and makes recommendations for how state SNAP E&T agencies can address them.

Click here to read the brief.

These recommendations are especially timely because states now have an opportunity to align SNAP E&T with WIOA implementation. Last week, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Labor urged State Workforce Administrators, Workforce Development Boards, and American Jobs Centers to do exactly that. (For more on aligning SNAP E&T with WIOA implementation read last week's blog)

This project was made possible through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon
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