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Workforce Data Quality Campaign invited to OECD in Paris

On April 5 and 6 in Paris, France, WDQC Director Bryan Wilson participated in an “Expert Workshop on Strengthening the Governance of Skills Systems,” held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  OECD is an international organization consisting of 35-member countries.  OECD asked Bryan to speak on “integrated information systems for skills,” and fully supported his participation.

OECD’s mission is, “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” OECD conducts research, develops policy recommendations, and sometimes facilitates agreements between governments. One of OECD’s four areas of focus is skills, ensuring that, “people of all ages can develop the skills to work productively and satisfyingly in the jobs of tomorrow.”

The OECD Center for Skills has worked recently to advance skill strategies in more than ten countries. Through this experience, the Center has learned how nations struggle to develop a systemic approach to skill policies. Four main challenges are: poor coordination among government agencies and levels of government, lack of collaboration with stakeholders, inefficient financing mechanisms, and lack of effective data and information systems. OECD is now proceeding to identify good policy practices to address these four challenges.

The purpose of the Expert Workshop was to provide feedback to OECD regarding their draft document outlining good policy practices in these four “dimensions”.  Being aware of WDQC’s work, they invited Bryan to speak as one of two external experts on good practices around workforce data and information systems. In all, the meeting was attended by 10 external experts, 22 OECD staff, and a representative of the European Commission. 

Many of the draft document’s points about workforce data and information systems would be familiar to an American audience: the need for accessible data for decision-making, the usefulness of longitudinal information systems, the need for cross-program data and data that crosses levels of government, and information on skill supply and demand.  The document suggested that mechanisms to support information systems include: bodies for coordinating workforce information across agencies, results-based management and accountability, and regular evaluations and transparent reporting of results.

In his comments at the Workshop, Bryan appreciated that OECD included integrated workforce data and information systems as one of four “dimensions” to systemic skills policies. He offered some suggestions for additions to the draft document.

Information systems should enable better decision-making among three primary sets of actors: policymakers, institutions or providers, and consumers.  As briefly mentioned in the document, to create integrated information systems, governments should establish longitudinal data systems that collect administrative records on program participants, administrative records on employment and earnings, link the records together, and are capable of aggregating information on individuals over time. A robust system must be based on individual unit data.

Governments should establish data tools that take data from longitudinal information systems and present the information in ways that are actionable by policymakers, institutions, and consumers. There should be dashboards designed for policymakers that show the key characteristics (such as costs and participant demographics) and educational and labor market outcomes of programs, using consistent methods and metrics to make the results easier to understand and to facilitate coordination across programs.

There should be transparent reports for consumers that show key characteristics and outcomes of programs of study at local institutions or providers, again, using consistent methods and metrics so that information is comparable, and consumers can make more informed decisions. There should be institutional feedback reports that similarly provide information on characteristics and outcomes of institutions and their programs of study, so that they may make more informed decisions about program improvement. Finally, there should be supply and demand reports that compare the number of newly trained workers per year to the number of job openings per year by field of study and level of education or training.

To implement these things require addressing certain challenges (a somewhat different list than in the draft document):

  • Creating administrative record-based information systems that are inclusive of all types of providers of skills training and the different types of credentials they produce, and comprehensive records of employment and earnings;  
  • The use of consistent metrics, horizontally and vertically across programs;
  • Getting policy-makers to use the information to inform their investments in skills training and other decisions; and
  • Wide and effective dissemination of consumer information.

As OECD’s project continues, Bryan offered to connect OECD staff to examples of good practices from American states.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Groundbreaking Project Releases Nationwide Earnings of UT System Graduates

The University of Texas (UT) System recently published aggregated data on the earnings of its graduates who move out of state. Enabled by a unique partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program, the project shows great promise for better information on the workforce outcomes of postsecondary programs and institutions nationwide. 

The UT System makes this information available to the public via its online tool, seekUT, which includes program level information by institutions within the UT System. The seekUT online tool now includes out-of-state as well as in-state data on graduates, showing their median earnings by program-level at one, five, and ten years after graduation, as well as their debt-to-income ratios. The tool also provides the percentage of students who pursue education beyond the baccalaureate level, and covers undergraduate, graduate, medical, and dental programs. Eventually, the project will release information disaggregated by U.S. region.

The addition of nationwide earnings data is important because graduates who move out of state for work tend to have higher earnings than those who remain in the same state where they earned their credentials. Moreover, graduate degree recipients tend to move out of state more than those who receive baccalaureate degrees. 

In order to produce the nationwide earnings information, researchers matched UT System student data with the LEHD's earnings data from states' unemployment insurance wage records and earnings data from the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, with some exclusions. The project shows the ability of agencies to maintain stringent safeguards that protect privacy and maintain security around systems that match student data with information from other administrative records. This process could help to inform the creation of a national student-level data system.

Project leaders said this is the first time a postsecondary institution has collaborated with a federal agency to measure earnings outcomes that are more complete than what is currently available through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Unlike the Scorecard, UT System data includes non-federally aided students and shows the earnings of completers by program of study, rather than lumping together the earnings of completers and non-completers at the institutional level.

LEHD has been working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education and has been in discussion with other states to explore similar projects. The lessons learned from the UT System project will also inform the Census Bureau’s efforts to scale up other education research projects in the future.

LEHD is open to forming new partnerships with other institutions so they too can discover how their graduates fare in the workforce nationwide. LEHD provides more information about its methodology and data files, as well as contact information, on its Postsecondary Employment Outcomes project page.

Posted In: Texas, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

DC Council Unanimously Passes Workforce Data Bill

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
DC Council Unanimously Passes Workforce Data Bill

In February 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed B22-0401, the Workforce Development System Transparency Act, and the bill was enacted in March 2018. This bill requires the District’s Workforce Investment Council (WIC) to create a guide detailing the District’s spending on workforce development and adult education programs, as well as the performance outcomes of those programs.

Performance outcomes information will be largely consistent with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) common metrics, and include employment rates, median earnings, credential attainment, and completion rates. In order to collect outcomes data, the bill specifies that to the extent possible, program participant information should be matched with unemployment insurance wage records, the National Student Clearinghouse, the Federal Employment Data Exchange System, and other data sources. Programs may also obtain outcomes information by surveying past program participants.

The first version of this guide will include information about programs managed by seven District entities: the Department of Disability Services, the Department of Employment Services, the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Human Services, the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and the WIC. By 2020, the guide will include programs administered by an additional fourteen District entities, including the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

WDQC worked with the D.C. Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to develop and advance this bill. In addition to providing suggestions about outcome measures and data matching policies, Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff also testified in support of the bill during a committee hearing in September 2017.

WDQC applauds the Council of the District of Columbia for unanimously recognizing the ability of workforce data to improve District residents’ abilities to find the training that meets their needs, and to ensure that the District is making good investments with taxpayer money.

Posted In: District Of Columbia, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Long-Awaited Higher Education Bill Calls for Better Consumer Information; But Would Miss Wage Data for Many Students

Earlier today, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on behalf of herself and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), introduced H.R. 4508 to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The new bill, titled the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act, does not include the College Transparency Act that WDQC and over 130 other organizations have supported, and lacks some of its stronger provisions. The new bill, however, does propose changes to improve consumer information.

The PROSPER Act would create a public College Dashboard website to replace the current College Navigator and show information on all students at institutions eligible for Title IV federal financial aid. The Department of Education would publish aggregated information on enrollment, average completion, average cost, and financial aid on websites linked with the new Dashboard website. 

Graduation rates and other metrics would also go beyond covering first-time, full-time students. This information is important for showing the experiences of transfer students and other non-traditional students who return to school years later or attend institutions on a part-time basis. The Dashboard would also provide more information on particular demographic groups, such as those who have a disability, or receive Veteran’s benefits.

The College Dashboard would report at the program level, not just the institutional level, on information such as:

  • Median earnings of students five and ten years after graduating with a certificate or degree; and,
  • Average debt of student borrowers at graduation.

This program level information, however, would be available only on students who received federal financial aid, and would therefore not be representative of all students. This would severely limit the usefulness of the College Dashboard as a consumer information tool.

As a way to promote the College Dashboard, the bill requires the Secretary of Education to provide students with a link to the College Dashboard page of each institution listed on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Although the bill states the goal of reducing the reporting burden associated with the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the PROSPER Act does not seek to replace most of IPEDS through matching administrative data, which the creation of a federal student level data system could help deliver on, and which the College Transparency Act would bring about.

WDQC will continue analyzing the bill and provide updates in the future. With a Congressional environment that is busier than usual, the Senate is expected to take up the bill early next year.

For additional updates, including on non-data sections of the bill, check the websites of our colleague organizations:

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Members of Congress Demand Better Outcomes Data on Postsecondary Education

During a special session in the House of Representatives last night, Members of Congress explained why they support the College Transparency Act (CTA), and called on other members to join them.

Both the Senate and House introduced the bipartisan bill in May 2017. The CTA would create a student level data system at the U.S. Department of Education to provide students, postsecondary institutions, businesses, policy leaders, and the public with better information about what programs are helping students to earn credentials and get good jobs.

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), a lead co-sponsor of the bill, was joined by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA). During their floor statements, they expressed their strong support for the CTA because it would:

  • Show earnings by program level. Rep. Mitchell talked about the importance of providing earnings information to students so in the future they can know how quickly they can pay off their student personal loans. The CTA would provide students with better information on how much students earn after completing programs of study at institutions around the nation.
  • Empower more students. Rep. Stivers and Rep. Smucker noted that the system would count more students than existing systems and provide a better indication of what postsecondary experiences are like for non-traditional students since the information could be broken down by demographic categories and would include all students at institutions eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
  • Promote efficiencies. Rep. Mitchell lamented that the government already collects reams of data, but without a better system, we can’t gather data in a manner that’s useful to students.  The CTA would overturn the ban on a student level data system, take data the government already collects, and match those data to provide better information for government agencies, researchers, and students, while reducing the time needed for surveys.
  • Close skills gaps.  Rep. Mitchell also lauded the CTA for its potential to close skills gaps. WDQC has long advocated for better information about post-college employment and earnings that would help schools, policymakers, and businesses work together to align education with labor market demand.
  • Protect individual privacy and keep data secure. Floor speakers touted the privacy and security protections of the system proposed under the CTA. Rep. Garrett pointed out that the system wouldn’t disclose information on individuals, and Rep. Mitchell cited the agency that would lead CTA efforts, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), for its excellent track record. The bill would require the data system to use up-to-date security standards, prohibit the sale of data, induce penalties for illegally obtaining information, and prohibit the collection of health data and other sensitive information.

During his floor speech, Rep. Mitchell held up a board showing the long list of diverse organizations, including WDQC, which have stated their support for the CTA. That count is now over 130. Moreover, the House side bill now has 28 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Please reach out to WDQC if your organization would like to join other organizations in expressing support.

WDQC applauds these efforts and will continue to work with organizations and policymakers to advocate for better data on postsecondary student outcomes. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Last week, Montana’s Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) released a new report entitled "Meeting State Worker Demand: A report on the Labor Market Outcomes for Montana Colleges." The report answers two particularly important questions:

          (1) Are Montana’s colleges producing enough graduates to meet employer demand? and

          (2) What are Montana graduates’ employment outcomes one, three, and five years after graduation?

This report will be helpful for policymakers and program managers, who can make policy changes (such as creating more or different education and training programs) to ensure that the state’s education and training system is meeting the skill needs of Montana employers. Students can also use this information to make better decisions about their educational options.

The report contains data from sixteen colleges who participate in the Montana University System data warehouse, as well as two other institutions that submitted data solely for this report. This data was linked with Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records maintained by the MTDLI, tax data maintained by the Department of Revenue (DOR), and two and ten-year labor market projections produced by MTDLI in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Linking education and DOR data allowed Montana to get more accurate graduate employment outcomes than many other states have been able to get for similar reports. Because self-employed persons do not participate in the UI program, they cannot be found in UI wage records. Linking with the DOR data allowed the state to find those who are self-employed and others who do not participate in the UI program. In order to comply with strict confidentiality requirements, the DOR provided only aggregate level data to MTDLI.  

WDQC applauds Montana not just for making better information available to policymakers and students, but for committing to using this data to impact policy. The state has already used this data to inform the development of new college-sponsored apprenticeship programs, to create new career pathways, and to inform Missoula College’s strategic planning.

To learn more about Montana’s data infrastructure and use, please visit Montana’s state page


Posted In: Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

CT Bill Codifies SLDS and Standardizes Intake Forms

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
CT Bill Codifies SLDS and Standardizes Intake Forms

Connecticut recently enacted HB 5590, which, in relevant part, codifies the state’s existing longitudinal data system and creates a universal intake form for persons seeking assistance at American Job Centers or Workforce Development Board facilities.

The bill helps promote the sustainability of cross-agency data sharing in Connecticut by formally establishing the state’s existing longitudinal data system, P20 WIN, to link data from participating agencies for audit and evaluation purposes. The bill also codifies the system’s existing executive board, which oversees the system, and adds two members to the board: the Commissioner of Early Childhood, and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. These new members are expected to provide data on early childhood programs, and ensure that the system coordinates with other state initiatives.

Furthermore, this bill requires the state’s Labor Commissioner to develop a universal intake form for persons entering American Job Centers or Workforce Development Board facilities. The Commissioner must then use the information from the standardized intake forms for an annual report to the General Assembly, including: the number of people using American Job Center or Workforce Development Board services; the employment rates and average wages of persons who utilized those services; the number of people in various pathways; and the industry sectors in which completers find employment. By standardizing its intake forms, Connecticut will be better able to compare programs and assess how its workforce system is narrowing the middle skills gap.

These bills provisions were effective on July 11, 2017, the day the bill was passed.

WDQC applauds Connecticut’s efforts to improve workforce data, and learn more about the effectiveness of its workforce training and education programs. 

Posted In: Connecticut, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Indiana Increases Transparency for Data Access

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Indiana Increases Transparency for Data Access

Indiana has intensified efforts to ensure that all stakeholders have a transparent process by which to request access to data they need to make better decisions about education and the workforce. The Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK) is Indiana’s longitudinal data system, legislatively created to link data from the state’s Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, the Family Social Service Administration, and the Department of Workforce Development, over a period of time. The data in INK not only benefits policymakers, but also educators, researchers, and the public.

In order to promote the availability of INK data for use by all of its stakeholders, INK recently hosted a “Data Day” to provide an overview of INK, explain which data is available, and outline how to request it. In addition, Data Day featured a panel of data requesters from a variety of entities to discuss how the data request process has worked for them. This included frank discussion of how the data request system has and hasn’t met the requestors’ needs, in order to help INK improve its process for data sharing.

In addition, INK has published a list of its completed data requests online so that other users can better understand the types of data they can request, and how the request will be handled. The page shows requests that were fulfilled, requests that were forwarded to a single state agency, requests that were denied, and requests that were canceled by the requestor.

The webpage shows that INK data has been used by the Commission for Higher Education to complete a Return on Investment report, by the Department of Workforce Development to determine starting salaries for recent high school graduates, and by Indiana University - Perdue University Indianapolis to find the outcomes of its graduates to review its program offerings.

INK’s website also has a page devoted to outlining the data request process.

WDQC supports INK’s efforts to ensure that all stakeholders have a transparent process by which they can obtain the data they need to make better decisions. If your state is interested in making data available to more stakeholders, please reach out to our staff, who can provide technical assistance.


Posted In: Indiana, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Bipartisan Bill Aims to Improve Postsecondary Data

Update: The day after Senate introduction, Representative Mitchell (R-MI) introduced the bill in the House, along with several cosponsors.

In a bipartisan effort, four members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today introduced a bill to help students, policymakers, educators, and employers make informed decisions about postsecondary education. 

Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI), are sponsoring the College Transparency Act. The bill would create a postsecondary student data system at the U.S. Department of Education, in order to publicize aggregate information about completion rates, debt repayment, and employment outcomes for postsecondary programs.

WDQC supports the bill — along with our parent organization, the National Skills Coalition — and other national groups including the Institute for Higher Education Policy, New America, and Young Invincibles. 

The Act builds on the Student Right To Know Before You Go Act, a bill introduced in both the House and Senate in previous years by bipartisan co-sponsors, including Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Mia Love (R-UT), and Susan Davis (D-CA). WDQC has advocated for that legislation, so we are excited to see its main features echoed in the new proposal by Senate committee members. 

The College Transparency Act would revise the Higher Education Act (HEA) to create a postsecondary data system that would: 

  • Protect student privacy and adhere to best practices in data security
  • Empower all students to make more informed choices about where to spend their precious time and money
  • Better steward taxpayer dollars
  • Align education with labor market demand and help employers identify programs that are effectively preparing students for the workforce
  • Only be used to help and never to harm students
  • Reduce reporting burden for colleges and universities by replacing the student components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), including for students who do not receive Title IV aid

Right now, the HEA prohibits the Department of Education from collecting data on all postsecondary students. The Department's existing College Scorecard only includes students receiving federal aid in the calculation of key metrics, like post-college earnings. This presents an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of how well postsecondary programs are serving students.

The Act would overturn the HEA prohibition, creating a data system that would help students and families choose programs that demonstrate strong outcomes, and assist policymakers and educators in implementing policies and practices that help more students succeed. For the marketplace to function effectively, all these stakeholders need access to high-quality information that reflects all types of students, and can look at outcomes across state lines and between institutions as students transfer. The federal government — with its access to existing data, including employment and earnings — is uniquely positioned to compile that information, while alleviating institutional reporting burden.

Protecting students’ privacy is a focus of the Act. It includes protections that limit data disclosures, prohibit the sale of data, penalize illegal data use, prohibit use of the data for law enforcement, and safeguard personably identifiable information.

WDQC will work with the Postsecondary Data Collaborative on outreach to our networks to express support for the Act, with the goal of making a postsecondary student data system a central part of ongoing discussions on HEA reauthorization.

Artwork courtesy of Third Way

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

KY Postsecondary Feedback Report Now Interactive

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,

For the first time, the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS) has made their Postsecondary Feedback report interactive. The report shows what happens to students at Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions after they graduate. Previous versions of the report were published online, but static. With this change, students can more easily make informed decisions about their education options.

The Postsecondary Feedback Report provides information about graduate’s employment and wages, as well as information about further postsecondary education. Information can be broken down by institution and degree level. While the tool does not break down outcomes by major or program, it does break down outcomes by type of program, such as business, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and trades.

Kentucky Dashboard

The report utilizes data from the Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS). You can learn more about KLDS by visiting Kentucky’s state page.  

WDQC applauds Kentucky for making more information about education and training options available to students and their parents, as well as to educators and program managers, in an easy to understand format. Our staff is available to provide assistance to other states looking to create data tools. 

Posted In: Kentucky, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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