Work-based Learning: We Need An Ecosystem

OCTAE is pleased to host this blog post by guest blogger: David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation

David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation, speaking at a podium with American flag in background

David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation

It was an honor to take part in yesterday’s workshop on “Strengthening Work-Based Learning in Education and Transition to Career.”  For the Siemens Foundation, this is an extremely important topic, and one that we’ve recently chosen to focus on as part of our STEM Middle-Skill Initiative program.

For students, work-based learning is an underutilized method that holds the promise of opportunity and is ripe for growth.  It can help students develop essential employability skills and build a strong, positive work history.  It can also help them build an important network of peers and employers that often connect the dots between job seeker and the right position.

Companies win, too.  They have the opportunity to shape the next generation of skilled workers from an early stage and engage directly with the local education system in a meaningful way.  These experiences can also help build a positive culture in the workplace as current workers see their employer’s commitment to training and giving back to the community.

As a German company, Siemens’ roots run deep in apprenticeships, and the company has thrived from its access to the strong, skilled pipeline of workers that come from these work-based learning programs in Germany.

In the U.S., Siemens has worked to develop apprenticeships, but it’s an effort that needs a much more broad-based approach if the U.S. is going to successfully scale the model.   Like so many other efforts worth the outcome, work-based learning can require a lot of time, commitment and resources.

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Call to Action: Make Disability Visible in Everything We Do

Today, July 26, is the anniversary of the signing in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recognition of the spirit of the Act, we are pleased to recommit to the important work of making our programs inclusive and accessible to all.

Disability is part of the human experience, and one of the variables that contribute to the rich diversity of our nation.  Disability is not a static condition—people can experience a disability from birth, or develop a disability as a result of genetics, aging, or trauma.  Disability does not discriminate—anyone can acquire a disability, at any time.  Individuals with disabilities are neighbors, teachers, community leaders, and parents. They are workers, managers, corporate CEOs, and healthcare providers. Individuals with disabilities can and do participate in all realms of work, and their strong participation is vital to our economic growth.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2014, the resident population in the United States was estimated to be approximately 319.9 million individuals; and of this, approximately 31.9 million individuals have some kind of disability, including both apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Yet individuals with disabilities still face barriers to full, family-sustaining employment.

On June 21, 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics. The data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.  Based on this report, in 2015, 17.5 percent of persons with a disability were employed. The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7 percent in 2015, compared to 5.1 percent for those without a disability. Some key findings (and where to find them in the report) include:

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Summer: A Great Time to Talk about College

As we approach the end of summer, it is important to reflect on ways that we can all support students and families preparing to attend college next year. For the first time this fall, students are able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning on October 1st. This earlier date allows students to explore further financial aid options before most college’s deadlines. As a result, students will have more college options than in the past.

On average there are 482 high school students for every college counselor, each looking for their own set of advice in regards to the college application process. In addition to those students who have overworked counselors there are many youth and adults who are deciding to return to school and who lack access to free college counseling. For these reasons, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of Education redesigned the College Scorecard to provide the clearest, most accessible, and most reliable national data on college cost, graduation, debt, and post-college earnings. This tool was improved with feedback from students, families, and counselors to help ensure that families and future postsecondary students make the most informed decisions when choosing a college.

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Janet Terry: A Workforce Development Success Story

Watch this video with U.S. Secretary of Education John King and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez highlighting a success story resulting from local, state, and federal agencies collaborating under one roof. Janet’s story is an inspirational example of how adults can benefit from coordinated workforce development services.

Image of Janet Terry, smiling, with the Pittsburg waterfront in the background

Janet Terry, winner of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Achievement Award for the Outstanding Senior Community Service Employment Program Participant.

Read the full story posted by our partners in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Tune in to Watch Announcement of CTE Challenge Winners

Photo of White House made of Lego blocksDon’t forget to tune into the White House Champions of Change event tomorrow, Friday, June 17! Join in the excitement by watching the livestream at wh.gov/live from 1:00pm to 3:00pm Eastern Time for the announcement of the winners of the CTE Makeover Challenge!

The Champions of Change for Making event will kickoff the National Week of Making and feature remarks from senior Administration officials, panel conversations with the Champions of Change, and announcements of new actions and commitments in support of making around the country. Joining the conversation will be businesses, organizations, and government agencies who are leading efforts to empower, support, and inspire makers around this country and the world.

Minority-Serving Community Colleges Virtual Convening

Increasing cooperation among community colleges that serve a large minority population or populations is widely viewed among community college faculty and leaders and policymakers as an integral element in ensuring that these institutions improve their capacities to serve their varied student populations.  In furtherance of this collaborative effort, OCTAE, on Thursday, May 19, hosted an all-day virtual event to build upon the efforts begun during its Minority-Serving Community College convening at the Department of Education last fall. Approximately 70 individuals or groups joined to hear updates on a variety of topics and concerns for minority-serving community colleges.  Future content and events will be announced through the OCTAE newsletter, OCTAE Connection, the OCTAE Community Colleges website, as well as the Minority-Serving Community Colleges and Affiliates LINCS group, which can be joined here.

The first topical session was hosted by Amy Firestone of the U.S. Department of Labor on the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium.  Registered Apprenticeships and the College Consortium will be considered in more detail in a future issue of OCTAE Connection. The second presentation focused on White House initiatives that support each of the designated categories of minority-serving institutions.  Each of these initiatives undertakes activities designed to support their particular constituencies.  The third presentation by OCTAE Policy Analyst Kiawanta Hunter-Keiser focused on the Department’s initiatives to support equity in career and technical education, both internally and externally. The fourth session, hosted by Luke Wood and Marissa Vasquez Urias of San Diego State University, discussed the role of faculty in supporting men of color at community colleges with a special emphasis on the need for research, training, and assessment. Drs. Wood and Vasquez Urias invited convening attendees to join the National Consortium on College Men of Color and attend the June 9-10, 2016 working group meeting in San Diego, CA.  The topic of the final session was a presentation by some of the lead institutions for the Minority-Serving Community Colleges Communities of Practice initiative regarding a research conference for minority-serving institutions, an Asian American and Pacific Islander initiative, and on middle-college pathways.

Guest blogger: Erin Berg, OCTAE Community College Program SpecialistErin Berg

5 Million Reasons to Care About Youth Not in Education or Jobs

OCTAE has been shining a spotlight on the challenges faced by disconnected youth and the programming models focused on their challenges for the past several years. These are youth roughly 16 to 24 years of age, who are not engaged in education and not employed. They may be living at home or be homeless. They may be in or may have emancipated from the foster care system. They may be high school non-completers or those who have completed some college courses or received credentials. They may live in urban, rural or suburban communities. They may be in or released from justice-involved facilities. They may be single, married, and/or parents.

With this post, OCTAE kicks off a blog series examining what we know about disconnected youth, promising programming models, and the data used to track progress in reconnecting youth with education, training, employment, community, and their families.

We use the term “disconnected” youth, as this is the term used in the statutes and authorities that allow OCTAE to support disconnected youth. These “disconnected” youth have also been called “opportunity” youth.

Youth Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

If you are like me, you like good news more than bad news. That is why many of us in the youth development and education fields were ecstatic to learn that there are almost 300,000 fewer youth who are disconnected than there were in 2010. That is great news.

Not such great news is that these gains vary a lot – and we would argue, too much – depending on where youth live and their race, gender, ethnicity, and home language. Of equal concern is that there are still more than 5 million disconnected youth in our country.

The new data from the Survey of Adult Skills can inform us about youth in the United States who are Not in Employment, Education, or Training, or NEET youth, as the OECD calls these youth.[1]

The U.S. National Supplement of the Survey of Adult Skills, released on March 10, 2016, reported on an enhanced sample in the U.S. that oversampled the unemployed, young adults (ages 16-34), and older adults (ages 66-74).[2] These data allow us to examine the education and work status of youth, their educational and family backgrounds, skill use at work and in everyday life, and proficiency of directly-assessed foundation skills (literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving).

As the Survey of Adult Skills data have shown, in the U.S. economy, skills matter – almost as much as a credential. The question then becomes: what skills do NEET youth possess? Do they have the foundation skills they need to re-connect and get ahead?

The U.S. National Supplement found that nearly 5% of 16-24 year olds were in NEET status, that is, not engaged in employment, education or training in the 12 months before responding to the Survey. Many of these NEET youth have very low skills. A quarter of NEET youth perform below Level 2 in literacy, and 45% perform as low in numeracy.

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Strengthening the Link Between Upskill America and WIOA

Last month, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Upskill America. There was a lot to celebrate. The employers who made commitments last year at the Upskill America Summit created training for approximately 200,000 frontline workers that could lead to higher-skill jobs. Over 10,000 workers have earned degrees and credentials, and nearly 5,000 workers have already been promoted into higher-paying positions. Over the same period, 532,150 frontline workers participated in adult education programs funded by Title II of WIOA to strengthen their math, reading, writing, or English skills.

This is great progress. An analysis of recent data on frontline workers, however, shows we must do more. See a fact sheet created by OCTAE for the 2016 Upskill celebration, based on the updated Survey of Adult Skills data. The good news is that WIOA creates opportunities to further extend upskilling efforts for the benefit of America’s workforce.

Let’s look at the data first. There are between 20 and 24 million workers who lack foundation skills for getting ahead, with literacy proficiency below Level 2 on the Survey of Adult Skills. Who are they and where do they work?

  • 60% hold one or more jobs in the following industries: retail, health, hospitality/food, manufacturing, and construction

    A circle graph depicts the race and ethinicity of low-skilled frontline workers as listed in the text; a bar chart shows the first language of frontline workers is English (58.2%), Spanish (33.6%) and Other (8.2).

    Low-skilled frontline workers have different backgrounds and have different language proficiencies and needs.

  • 57% are men
  • 50% are younger than age 45
  • Nearly 80% are parents
  • 20% are Black
  • Nearly 40% are Hispanic
  • Nearly 70% have at least a high school diploma
  • 60% make less than $20,000 a year, which is much less than the median earnings for all workers with a high school diploma, not just lower-skilled workers.[1]

These workers have different backgrounds and bring diverse views to their work and workplaces, and a significant number of frontline workers are bilingual or multi-lingual.

It is very encouraging that many frontline workers have taken steps to improve their skills.  Fifty percent participated in formal or non-formal education in the year leading up to the Survey and 10 percent participated in distance education. Employers were more likely to have paid for non-formal education and training, in 40 percent of the cases, than formal education, in only 10 percent.

If half of these frontline workers do participate in education and training, then half – or roughly between 10 and 12 million workers – do not. So how do we change that? And specifically, what can the public and private sectors do together to give more frontline workers access to education and training opportunities that will allow them to move up?

WIOA offers specific opportunities to expand access. As States are preparing to compete their WIOA Title II funding, for instance, partnerships between employers and eligible providers can apply for funding to support learning opportunities for frontline workers. Here you can find an example of how Alexandria City Public Schools are working with Dominion Services–Virginia Power to create a powerful upskilling program for work in the electrical and utility industry. But, WIOA can do much more for employers and their employees.  See a guide compiled by the Department of Labor on how businesses can engage in the workforce development system.

Employers, WIOA service providers, and partners can collaborate to create that first job opportunity for many of our vulnerable subpopulations, particularly those individuals with significant barriers to employment including job seekers with disabilities, foster youth, returning citizens, and others. This type of upskill-backfill partnership creates a pipeline for firms and pathways for workers. There are no losers in this. Only winners.

 

[1]Median annual earnings for all workers with a high school diploma for all skill levels are approximately $30,000 based on 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies data.

Top CTE Programs Recognized with National Award

Eleven CTE programs were selected for 2016 “Excellence in Action” awards by Advance CTE, a national association of state CTE directors. The awards are intended to highlight high quality Career Cluster-based programs of study that have a meaningful impact on student achievement and success. More information about the award program and its winners can be found on the Advance CTE website.

Congratulations to the eleven CTE programs receiving awards:

Tulare Join Union High School District Farm
Agriculture Education, California

Advanced Technologies Academy
Architectural Design, Nevada

Vista PEAK Preparatory
Business Education, Colorado

Peoria Unified School District
Early Childhood Education, Arizona

Hamburg High School
Academy of Finance, New York

Waubonsee Community College
Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic, Illinois

Des Moines Independent School District
Central Campus Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Academy, Iowa

Southwest High School
Computer Maintenance Technology & IT Certification Program, Texas

Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
Legal Studies, Texas

Desert View High School
Precision Machining and Mechanical Drafting, Arizona

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center
Manufacturing Technology Academy, Michigan