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Workforce Data Explained: Labor Market Information Creates Job-Driven Training in Wyoming

WDQC interviewed Tony Glover, Chief Economist and Research Supervisor from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, on how his state uses labor market information to create industry projections and inform the development of training programs. This video is the third in a series that showcases how states are using education, training and workforce data to advance their skilled workforce and improve alignment with industry demand.

Background information and resources:

See WDQC's other videos in the Workforce Data Explained series on YouTube.

Posted In: Wyoming, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

New State Projects Analyze Workforce Pipelines

  ·   By Christina Pena,

Wyoming and Rhode Island recently released the results of research supported by U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants. Although the grants were the first for both states, the projects are already showing how linking administrative data across education and wage records can inform workforce development.

Median earnings chart on Wyoming high school graduates

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Research & Planning Division, in Phase I of its research project, aimed to show how the labor market, economy and life choices influence the paths of young adults in Wyoming. Researchers focused on cohorts of high school students to track their postsecondary education, workforce participation and earnings during secondary school and years after exit (the full report covered 2006-2013). They extracted data from Wyoming’s departments of Education, Transportation, Workforce Services, and the National Student Clearing House (NSC). The project also included administrative data from the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage record systems of other states with which Wyoming has data sharing agreements. The state will eventually use its research to produce dashboards showing labor force outcomes. 

Several of the key findings confirm expectations about trends in Wyoming: 

  • For cohorts who remained in the state, they tended to change jobs less frequently and their earnings increased as they grew older;
  • More market instability appeared “to precede loss from employment,” but the authors recommend additional analysis to indicate whether such conditions are causing withdrawal from the labor market;
  • Cohorts who attended school while working tended to earn less than those who only worked;
  • Educational attainment may not be the most relevant factor influencing market outcomes (though the authors recommend that more variables be explored to fully understand this dynamic); and,
  • For high school students with disabilities, when compared to the overall student average, fewer had earnings in UI wage records, and they had a lower graduation rate.

Wyoming will continue this project, and plans to use additional data from the state’s Community College Commissions, the University of Wyoming, Workforce Investment Act trainees, Hathaway Scholarship awardees, and other programs.

Going forward, researchers want to focus on local economic development. They plan to examine more student  records linked to labor market outcomes to assess which groups of youth, further categorized by their level and type of postsecondary education (if any), are most likely to leave the state and under what economic conditions. They also suggest assessing additional data to discern particular patterns of service to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. The authors add that it will be necessary to have other states conduct analyses that draw on comparable administrative data, in order to have a high degree of confidence in understanding how certain conditions influence workforce outcomes.

Wyoming officials welcome feedback on their research methodology and conclusions.

Chart on earnings by field of study in Rhode Island

Rhode Island turned its WDQI-funded research into a series of charts accompanied by easy-to-read summaries that tell “data stories” about its College to Career Landscape. Researchers aimed to answer the following question: “How do the fields of study of recent graduates relate to their place in the state's employment landscape?”

Researchers reviewed data on workers who recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Community College of Rhode Island, and the relationship of their areas of study to the state’s current and future workforce demand. The analysis relied on data from the state’s Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, the Department of Labor and Training, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rhode Island’s research reveals a number of important trends and indicates several areas for possible program action. For example: 

  • Healthcare and social assistance employ a large segment of the state’s workers, have “decent average wages,” and are likely to make up the greatest number of new jobs, which could suggest the utility of increasing training and education in these fields.
  • Finding high-wage/high growth areas can reveal an economic gap where workforce capacity could be developed to bolster higher-wage industries in the state. The research found that projected growth and decent wages in industries such as manufacturing, professional, scientific, and technical services, are promising areas of focus for developing the “education-to-workforce pipeline.”

In future projects, Rhode Island researchers plan to incorporate more specific information on certificates, degrees, earnings, and occupations. To make the state more attractive to industries, they will further explore employer demand and the state’s “higher education pipeline” with the goal of generating more growth in higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs.

While Rhode Island and Wyoming have more research ahead, both projects are showing how analysis of administrative data can lead to a better understanding of how to align worker capabilities and education with workforce demand, and how to help certain groups and sectors improve their prospects within an environment of changing workforce supply and variable market conditions.


Posted In: Rhode Island, Wyoming, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

BLU attends White House Upskilling Summit

  ·   By Scott Ellsworth,
BLU attends White House Upskilling Summit

Last Friday, 14 members of Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) attended a White House summit on the critical need to upskill America’s frontline workforce. The summit brought together leading employers from a range of companies—including national corporations as well as small and medium-sized firms like those which lead BLU—to share best practices for helping frontline workers acquire the skills and training needed to advance to better-paying jobs or stay relevant in their chosen fields.

“In order to keep our edge, we need to build the most skilled workforce in the world,” said Vice President Biden in his address to the summit attendees. “Upskilling is not only critical for business, it’s critical for America.”

Biden’s message was echoed by the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor who were both present at the summit and active participants. They all recognized the importance of the work that is being done to allow people to take the next step in their careers.

During the summit, attendees participated in roundtable discussions and breakout sessions focused on apprenticeships, on-the-job training, credentials, employer provided education benefits, and mentorship and supportive services. The summit presented an opportunity for BLU employers to weigh in with the administration on the issue of upskilling and see what strategies other business and labor leaders have implemented nationally. Employers also discussed how other businesses could be encouraged to join the movement and emulate the good work that is already being done.

“I can hopefully take away [from the summit] some of the best practices in use around the country,” said Michael Tamasi of Massachusetts-based AccuRounds to The Enterprise.

“There were a lot of ideas around what other employers throughout the United States are doing,” said Traci Tapani of Minnesota’s Wyoming Machine in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio. “To find like-minded people who are already doing this kind of [upskilling] work has been helpful to everyone that is here.”

BLU employers were particularly pleased to hear the administration pledge to help facilitate upskilling commitments.

Karl Robinson, President of North Carolina-based trucking company R&R Transportation, expressed hopes to the Triad Business Journal to see greater support in getting more employees into the logistics industry.

"If I had more drivers, I could hire them tomorrow," Karl said. "All of the other trucking companies in the Triad area could use drivers yesterday."

What BLU businesses are doing right now serves as a model for others to follow. An interactive map showcases upskilling commitments from employers across the country, such as Mike Mandina of Optimax in New York, whose employees are encouraged to take advantage of the company’s 100 percent tuition program for community colleges.

“As employees attain higher skills, the opportunities within the company for both wage growth and promotion increase,” Mike stated in the Rochester Business Journal.

In conjunction with the interactive map, the White House released an Upskill Initiative Fact Sheet highlighting several BLU employers and an employer handbook for upskilling America’s front-line workers.

BLU employers were a leading voice for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at the summit on an issue which is of such immense importance to the future health of the U.S. economy—creating new opportunities for our employees to raise their skills and advance within our companies.

“Like many other business owners, I want to continue to grow my company and the only way I’m going to do that is to find new solutions to bring in the skilled labor we need,” said Traci Tapani. “The most exciting thing is it doesn’t just benefit businesses, it benefits the employee by giving them a pathway to a higher paying job in the future. Everybody really wins when you’re upskilling.”

Posted In: New York, Wyoming, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Business Leaders United

DOL awards WDQI grants.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

This week, the Department of Labor announced $6.4 million in Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants to 6 states to develop or improve their workforce data systems. 

The grants awarded to Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, and Wyoming will help those states develop new longitudinal data systems, while the awards obtained by Ohio and Virginia will help them improve their existing data systems. Statewide longitudinal workforce systems established or expanded through these grants should collect individual-level data from Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records, UI benefit claims, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Titles I and II, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and other training and employment programs. 

During the three year grant period, grantees are expected to: 

  • Develop and improve state workforce longitudinal data systems with individual-level information; 
  • Enable workforce data to be matched with education data to create longitudinal data systems; 
  • Improve the quality and breadth of the data in the workforce data systems; 
  • Use longitudinal data to provide useful information about program operations; 
  • Analyze the performance of education and employment training programs; and 
  • Provide user-friendly information to consumers to help them select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.  

The WDQI grant program was created in 2010 to help states develop or improve their state workforce longitudinal data systems in an effort to make workforce education and training programs more effective. This is the third – and smallest – round of WDQI grants. The first two rounds disbursed a total of $24 million to 23 states. In his 2014 budget, President Obama requested just $6 million for WDQI grants. 

National Skills Coalition, as a member of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign has called on Congress to ensure state longitudinal data systems are inclusive, aligned and market relevant so they may provide useful information to the public, to the private-sector, and to policymakers about the skills, employment, and earning outcomes of our students and workers, and about the ability of U.S. businesses to fill skilled positions with our education and training programs’ graduates.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, Wyoming, Virginia, Ohio, Workforce Data Quality Campaign