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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
California Community Colleges to Use New Skills Builder Metric

On March 30th, California Community Colleges will begin tracking wage outcomes for “skills-builders.” These students enroll in courses at a community college not to earn a credential or to transfer to a four-year school, but to get a promotion at work or earn a higher salary. According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, there were 86,328 skills-builders in the system in 2011-12.

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors established the scorecard to measure student success at the system’s 112 community colleges. Currently, the scorecard provides the percentage of students who complete a degree, certificate, apprenticeship, or who transfer to a four year college. However, the new scorecard will include the skills-builders metric, which will show salary increases for students who take one or two courses, but don’t earn a credential or transfer.

Wage gains data will come from matching the state’s unemployment insurance wage records with individual student records.

“We in the California Community Colleges have long been frustrated knowing that we did not have a way to measure the success of students who come to us and take just a class or two to add skills, then re-enter the labor force,” Chancellor Brice Harris wrote in the Sacramento Bee. 

WDQC is excited to see wage records used to quantify a different type of success, and look forward to sharing the newest version of the scorecard upon its release. 

Posted In: California, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
NY Senate White Paper Recommends Improved Workforce Data

Last week the New York Senate Democratic Policy Group released a white paper entitled Upstate Left Behind: Job Loss, Policy Challenges, and a New Path to Create Jobs Across New York State. The white paper discusses 47 policy initiatives, including improved workforce data, which are intended to bring jobs to Upstate New York and decrease the region’s economic stagnation.

The white paper suggests that by strengthening workforce data, New York can connect residents with the right job training programs, and increase job readiness. That, in turn, would create employment, as it did in Mississippi, where the state’s longitudinal data system provided information that helped attract a Yokohama Tire Corporation manufacturing plant.

WDQC’s 2014 Mastering the Blueprint report is cited in the white paper, because it revealed that the state failed to achieve any of our 13 Blueprint elements for strong data systems. It also influenced development of the policy recommendations.  

WDQC applauds New York State legislators for highlighting workforce data as an important strategy for economic growth, and we look forward to being a resource as policy proposals advance. With better information, workers can pick training programs that give them in-demand skills, businesses can hire qualified workers to help them succeed, and state leaders can direct resources to workforce programs that give people real opportunity and support New York’s economy.

Other recommendations from the white paper include expanding job training programs, facilitating college credit for career technical education courses, and developing a state service corps. 

The white paper is not the only action New York is taking towards improving data. Recently, representatives from New York attended the Multistate Education and Workforce Data: Improving Policy and Program Outcomes meeting, hosted in cooperation between WDQC, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), and the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP). During the meeting, representatives from the state’s public college systems discussed current research efforts as well as the potential benefits of multi-state data.  

Posted In: New York, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

California Task Force Addresses Skills Gap

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
California Task Force Addresses Skills Gap

The California Community College Board of Governors’ Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy released 25 recommendations intended to help the community college system prepare students for the workforce and close California’s skills gap. The recommendations were based on input from over 1,200 stakeholders, including community college staff, employers, labor organizations, and workforce training entities.

The task force recommendations recognized that consistent metrics and robust outcomes data are necessary to “improve pathways within career technical education, identify which programs employers’ value, and align their program and course offerings to local and regional labor market needs.” Accordingly, three of the report’s 25 recommendations involved the use of data. Specifically, the report called for the Board of Governors to:

(1) Create common metrics for state funded CTE programs;

(2) Make it easier to track student outcomes across institutions and programs by creating a student identifier; and

(3) Improve the quality and accessibility of outcome and labor market data.

Other recommendations called for the Board of Governors to develop partnerships among community colleges, business, industry, and other related entities to align college programs with industry needs; establish sustained funding for career technical education courses and programs; and evaluate and revise curriculum to align education with employment.

These changes are necessitated by California’s anticipated skills gap. By 2025, nearly 1.9 million California jobs may require a middle skill credential. However, "[e]mployers in key industries report difficulty in filling job openings because of a shortage of workers with the right skills,'' said Sunita Cooke, chair of the task force and president/superintendent of MiraCosta Community College District. This shortfall could lead to one million unfilled jobs.

If enacted, the task force recommendations will not be the only uses of data underway in California’s community college system. Using information from the state’s unemployment insurance wage records, the system has produced two online tools showing in-state employment outcomes for graduates. Salary Surfer shows aggregated median earnings data from graduates of select degree and certificate programs 2 and 5 years after graduation. Similarly, the College Wage Tracker provides potential students with average wages three years after graduation, by program area and college. Both can help potential students make decisions about postsecondary education. A third effort, LaunchBoard, provides California community colleges and K-12 school districts with information about the effectiveness of career technical education programs. In a revised version, set to be released in January 2016, users will be able to view reports answering questions including whether the right number of people are being trained for available jobs, whether students are getting jobs, and how much they are earning.

Posted In: California, Workforce Data Quality Campaign