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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
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
New MI Law Allows Community Colleges to Receive UI Data

In March 2018, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed MI HB 4545. This bi-partisan bill enables Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) to make unemployment insurance information available to community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies.

Under previous Michigan law, only four-year colleges and universities could receive data from UIA, and they could only use that data for public-service research projects. MI HB 4545 expands the entities who are eligible to receive unemployment insurance information to include Michigan Works! Agencies and community colleges. The bill also expands the ways these entities can use the data. Now, eligible entities may receive and use data for program planning and evaluation, grant application or evaluation, accreditation, economic or workforce research, award eligibility, or state or federal mandated reporting. The bill also requires UIA to make information about what types of data it can share available online, and to help eligible institutions apply to receive data.

A companion bill, HB 4546, holds anyone involved with an eligible entity liable for misusing unemployment insurance information. Offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

“This bill will simplify the process for community colleges and Michigan Works! vocational programs. These bills are an opportunity for us to make Michigan stronger and make better employment opportunities available to our residents,” said Michigan state representative Gary Howell.

According to stakeholders, both bills were introduced and passed in large part because of advocacy from the state’s community colleges. Michigan’s community colleges have long advocated for better access to unemployment insurance wage records in order to improve programs and better meet employer demand. In 2016, the community colleges helped develop HB 5763, which would have provided community colleges and Michigan Works! Agencies with access to unemployment insurance information. WDQC submitted written testimony in support of that effort. HB 4545 is substantially similar to HB 5763, representing a victory for the community college and workforce systems after years of hard work.

HB 4545 will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Posted In: Michigan, 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. To find out more about Connecticut’s data landscape, please visit Connecticut’s state page.  


Posted In: Data and Credentials, Connecticut, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Ohio Updates Dashboard

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Ohio Updates Dashboard

Ohio has recently completed its annual update of its Workforce Success Measures Dashboard, which evaluates the outcomes of the state’s largest workforce development programs. The tool was first built by the Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) in 2014.

The tool is intended for use by policymakers to continually monitor progress across the state’s workforce development programs, as well as for program administrators to monitor their programs and compare them to similar programs across the state. It can help answer questions including:

  • Are participants finding and keeping employment?
  • How much do former participants earn? 
  • Are participants earning credentials?

The Workforce Success Measures Dashboard helps answer these questions about Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, adult education programs, post-secondary career and technical education funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, state-funded financial aid and scholarships for the state’s public colleges, and vocational rehabilitation programs. The tool measures completers, employment and wage outcomes, and credential information, applying common measures across programs. Users can view data by program, county, the state as a whole.

 Ohio Dashboard Chart

Ohio is one of four states that National Skills Coalition (NSC) has provided technical assistance to as part of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). SWEAP is helping states develop cross-program data tools that policy makers can use to align programs with employer skill needs. SWEAP has helped Ohio build a Workforce Supply Tool which provides information about Ohio’s talent supply in key occupations.

Moving forward, Workforce Data Quality Campaign will be providing technical assistance to states looking to create data tools for policymakers. If your state is interested in implementing SWEAP tools, please contact us at   

Posted In: Ohio, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Workforce Data Explained: Using Data to Narrow California Skills Gaps

WDQC interviewed Jillian Leufgen, Program Analyst with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy, about the strides made toward understanding student success in California’s labor market.

California Community Colleges is the largest system of postsecondary education in the United States. The system uses LaunchBoard to link education data and wage records to provide community college employees with information about outcomes of career and technical education programs, and Salary Surfer provides similar information for the public.

Additional Resources:

  • AB 1417 (2004): legislation that led the Chancellor’s Office to design and implement a performance measurement system
  • Since the video was produced, a flurry of activity has happened in California. The state legislature passed SB 66 (2016) to allow sharing of data on licenses to track impact on employment and wages. California Community Colleges also aligned performance data with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Posted In: California, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Louisiana Legislation Requires Supply and Demand Reports

On June 17th, the Governor of Louisiana signed LA SB 466, which mandates a comprehensive review of the state’s postsecondary needs as well as an evaluation of the state’s postsecondary assets. Introduced by Senator Sharon Hewitt in April this year, the legislation requires the Board of Regents, in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and the Louisiana Workforce Commission, to produce a report assessing if postsecondary education systems are fulfilling the state’s workforce and economic development needs.

The board will be required to submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the Senate and House Committees on Education prior to the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. The report will include a comprehensive description of current educational assets, current and forecasted education demands – taking into account occupational demand for current, emerging, and targeted cluster industries – and recommendations on how to efficiently and effectively close any gaps. The report will also include a discussion of any barriers found to developing an integrated postsecondary system.

This new legislation brings Louisiana one step closer towards achieving the Industry Skills Gaps element of WDQC’s State Blueprint for strong state data systems, which encourages states to assess the alignment between education and workforce programs and labor market demand to ensure that individuals are prepared for jobs that require skilled workers.

Louisiana will soon join fifteen states who reported having achieved this element in 2015, along with Indiana, who passed similar legislation this spring. To learn more about how states can use supply/demand reporting for state workforce planning, read the National Skills Coalition’s report “How Many More Skilled Workers Do We Need?”

Posted In: 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