Hearing the Student Voice – Why Work-Based Learning Matters

Dequan Wilkins poses with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Johan Uvin and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins poses with OCTAE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Johan Uvin, and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins, graduate of Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, provided opening remarks for the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Work-Based Learning in Education and Transition to Careers Workshop, co-hosted with the Organisation for Co-operative Economic Development (OECD) in Baltimore, Maryland, from July 26-27, 2016.  As a child and young adult growing up in Baltimore’s foster care system, Dequan recounted his “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to obtain an internship at the Episcopal Community Services of Maryland (ECSM) Culinary Arts program and how this work-based learning experience transformed his pathway from school to work.  He connected with a workplace mentor, learned the requisite technical and employability skills, obtained an industry-recognized certification (ServSafe), and was ultimately hired as a Sous Chef.  Dequan is passionate about culinary arts and is looking forward to creating his own bakery.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by Director John Ladd, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by John Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Three other students—Maalik Groves and Shanelle Lockhart from the Urban Technology Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chloe Starcher, an apprentice at Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) 24 in Baltimore, Maryland—provided similar stories of how work-based learning, as part of their career and technical education programs, enabled them to connect their academic and technical learning and test out their career interests in real life work settings.  Each told of the importance of a caring adult who mentored them, guided them, and helped them master critical employability skills that would help them navigate and excel in the world of work.

These student stories set a perfect context for the two-day meeting that featured international policies and practices for developing and scaling up work-based learning opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.  The full agenda, discussion papers, and speaker bios are available for review at sites.ed.gov/OCTAE/WBL2016.  A U.S. report on work-based learning will be available early Winter 2016 and an international report on work-based learning will be available in 2017.  Stay tuned to the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network (PCRN) at cte.ed.gov for these reports.

Posted by
Robin A. Utz, Branch Chief College and Career Transitions, Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE)
SLMiller2
Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education

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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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.

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.

Education: A Key Service in WIOA

Thanks to all who joined the webinar on March 1, we were thrilled to host over 600 participants. Below are the archives and resources shared during the webinar.

Infographics shared during the discussion:

Logo displays One Team; One Vision; One Conversation

Logo from 2016 WIOA National Convening

Find other resources from the WIOA National Convening, including PowerPoints, the participant list, etc., here.

Two excerpts from the transcripts highlight the rich discussion that took place during the webinar:

Serving Individuals with Barriers to Employment

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Join a Webinar: Education – A Key Service in WIOA

Logo displays One Team; One Vision; One Conversation

Logo from 2016 WIOA National Convening

March 1, 2:45-4:00pm ET

Join at this link, with password DeptofED1! (No pre-registration required.)

Call in to 888-790-4881, participant code 9552347#.

Education: A Key Service in WIOA. All national survey and economic data points to the importance of youth and adults gaining strong foundation skills, completing high school equivalence, and earning industry-recognized certificates and degrees in order to gain economic stability and self-sufficiency. WIOA offers multiple coordination points and opportunities with educational institutions at every level to get clients moving ahead.

Panelists include:

  • Janet LaBreck, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration
  • Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
  • Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services

This panel discussion was cancelled at the WIOA National Convening in January to accommodate delayed arrivals due to weather. The webinar is open to public participation. Please plan to join and invite colleagues to do so as well.

Find resources from the WIOA National Convening, including PowerPoints, the participant list, etc., here.

 

 

WIOA: A Vision to Revitalize the Workforce System

Reminder: Public comments are being accepted on the 5 proposed notices of rulemaking until June 15, 2015. See the announcement with docket numbers, an FAQ document, a recorded statement by Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin, and a recorded webinar on entering comments.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) aims to increase access to and opportunities for employment, education, training, and support services, particularly for individuals with the greatest barriers to employment. WIOA, which marks the most significant change to the Federal adult education, vocational rehabilitation, and workforce development systems in more than a decade, promotes stronger alignment of workforce, education, vocational rehabilitation, and other human services systems in order to improve the structure and delivery of services to individuals, including adults and youth with disabilities and others who face barriers to employment.

While the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services have always strived to create and expand access to education, training, and employment opportunities for the millions of youth and adults who seek services through their programs, WIOA modernizes and streamlines the workforce development system to offer holistic, wrap around services to support gainful employment in the competitive integrated labor market. WIOA also supports innovative strategies to keep pace with changing economic conditions and calls for improved collaboration among agencies, not just at the State and local levels, but also at the Federal level.

The successful implementation of WIOA will require States and local areas to establish strong partnerships with core programs and other partners in the community, including local educational agencies, in order to successfully serve program participants, workers, and learners. WIOA’s unified and combined state planning provisions support this coordination by requiring a four-year strategy based on an analysis of workforce, employment and unemployment data, labor market trends, and the educational and skills level of a State’s workforce. The strategic planning process will help States align education, employers, and the public workforce system for efficient and effective use of resources. This coordinated planning will also ensure that programs and services are responsive to employer, business, and regional and community needs.

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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — Five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking Available for Public Comment

On April 16, 2015, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL) announced the release of five notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014.  The NPRMs are available for public comment on the Federal Register website at http://www.regulations.gov.  We encourage you to share this information with interested stakeholders.

The five NPRMs include:

  • DOL NPRM – This NPRM proposes to implement changes made to titles I and III of WIOA, including the adult, dislocated worker, and youth formula programs; state and local workforce development boards; designation of regions and local areas; local plans; the one-stop system; and national programs authorized under title I; and amends the Wagner-Peyser Act under title III. Provide your comments on docket ETA-2015-0001.
  • Joint Rule for Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability, and the One-Stop System Joint Provisions —The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor developed a joint rule proposing to implement jointly-administered activities under title I of WIOA regarding Unified and Combined State Plans, performance accountability, and the one-stop system. The proposed rules in the joint NPRM apply to all core programs, including the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act programs. Provide your comments on docket ETA-2015-0002.
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) NPRM – This NPRM proposes to implement changes to programs and activities authorized under AEFLA, which is contained in title II of WIOA. Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OCTAE-0003.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act)—These two NPRMs propose to implement changes made to the programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act, which is contained in title IV of WIOA, as well as implement new provisions:
    • State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program; State Supported Employment Services program; Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wage — This NPRM proposes to implement changes to the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program, as well as implement provisions in new Section 511 (Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages). Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0001.
    • Miscellaneous program changes – This NPRM proposes to implement changes to other Rehabilitation Act programs administered by ED. Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0002.

The Departments invite public comment on the proposed regulations for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.  Comments may be submitted online at www.regulations.gov or hard copy comments may be submitted via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery.  Instructions for submitting public comments are described in each of the NPRMs published in the Federal Register.  Any comments not received through the processes outlined in the NPRMs will not be considered by the departments.  All comments must be received on or before June 15, 2015.

View the joint DOL and ED press release announcing the release of the NPRMs.

For more information on the NPRMs and additional resources, please visit www.ed.gov/aefla.

Creating a Clear Path to Better Jobs for Low-Skilled Workers Stuck in Front-line Positions

America is creating millions of jobs. But, too many of these jobs go unfilled – five million to be exact. At the same time, there are roughly 8.7 million Americans looking for work and 24 million front-line workers who could fill these jobs, if they had the skills or were given the opportunity.

As the economy continues to improve, more and more employers struggle to find skilled workers with the requisite skills to fill in-demand jobs. At the same time, between twenty and thirty million workers in low-wage jobs – many of whom could be trained to fill more skilled roles – lack a clear path to a better job and career. According to the OECD, these workers are about half as likely as their high-skilled colleagues to participate in any job-relevant education or training over the course of the year. These workers need expanded opportunities and lowered barriers to gain both basic and technical skills.

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, the President called on employers across the country to adopt or expand additional measures to help front-line workers gain the training and credentials to advance into better paying jobs – including paying for college education, offering on-the-job training for career progression, and increasing access to technology-enabled learning tools. The day after, the President’s first stop and appearance was at Boise State University in Idaho where he launched an “Upskill America” initiative:

Today, we’re partnering with business across the country to “Upskill America” — to help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t have a higher education.  We want to recruit more companies to help provide apprenticeships and other pathways so that people can upgrade their skills.  We’re all going to have to do that in this new economy.  But it’s hard to do it on your own, especially if you’re already working and supporting a family. 

Many employers have already developed promising approaches to training and credentialing for upskilling front-line workers as part of successful talent strategies. And, we know that many others see the opportunity to benefit their workforce and bottom lines through investments in the skills of their front-line workers. This challenge creates a great opportunity for business, industry, labor, and government to team up and find and support a solution together.

The Administration is working with employers to identify and spread best practices for education, training and credentialing of front-line workers to help with their job progression. Examples of these practices are employers paying for their front-line workers’ college education, identifying clear internal pathways, providing career counseling and coaching, offering on-the-job training that leads to career progression, and providing access to online and technology-enabled education tools so workers can develop their basic and technical skills.

In the coming months, businesses of all sizes will be convened, as well as foundations, education and training non-profits and other partners who are committing to make new investments, to collectively set new goals and change policies that will enable low-skilled front-line workers to progress into better-paying jobs and help employers meet their current and projected unmet demand for skilled labor.

This effort to improve the skills of front-line workers builds on the actions Vice President Biden presented to President Obama on July 22, 2014 as part of his report Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity. In his 2014 State of the Union address, the President had tasked Vice President Biden with leading a review of federal employment and training programs, with the aim of making them more job-driven. Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity highlights successful job-driven training strategies, details executive actions that are being taken by the federal government, and new commitments by employers, non-profits, unions and innovators to help spread what’s working. As indicated in the release of the Ready to Work report, if you’re ready to work, you should be able to find a job that fits your skills, or get trained with the skills you need for a better job.

In November 2014, U.S. Secretary of Labor Perez launched The Skills Working Group, an interagency effort to maintain focus and attention around interagency, collaborative efforts of the Job-Driven Training Initiative, as well as emerging opportunities around cross-agency skills coordination. Thirteen federal agencies, the White House National Economic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget make up The Skills Working Group including the departments of Labor, Education, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Energy, Defense, Justice, Interior, and the Social Security Administration. The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education has been an active contributor to this work and leads the career pathways and upskilling work streams.

I find it inspiring to see businesses and labor-management initiatives expand access to training and provide supports for Americans to access pathways into the middle class. CVS Health, for example, is expanding access to job-advancement training for their employees by launching two new regional learning centers that will serve thousands of additional employees in the next two years. This builds on the six regional learning centers CVS Health currently operates in partnership with community colleges and other community service organizations, to help support thousands of workers as they build customer service- and healthcare-related job skills for career progression. The Upstate NY 1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund started C.N.A. training in the Syracuse (Central NY) area three years ago for incumbent SEIU members to allow lower level workers (dietary and housekeeping) to move up the career ladder.  Since this initiative was not always able to fill this program with incumbent workers, they started drawing on people from the community.  Community participants are funded through grants.

It is also exciting to see how many opportunities the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides for businesses – in partnership with adult education and youth and adult training providers or otherwise – to ensure that our nation’s workforce is ready to work and remains highly skilled and competitive. Whether it is through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act – Title II of WIOA – or through any of the other core programs, WIOA can play a critical role in achieving the goals of UpSkill America. Here are just a few ways that WIOA can do this:

  • Employer partnerships with education providers are eligible entities under Title II. This creates opportunities for employers and providers to team up and offer foundation skill development opportunities for low-skilled workers looking to get ahead. Learn more at a new, interactive site designed to support employer-adult education partnerships.
  • Employers can take advantage of increased access to work-based training. WIOA provides the ability for local workforce investment areas to help employers train their workers.
  • WIOA also increases reimbursement available for on-the-job training from 30 percent to 75 percent.
  • Businesses, under WIOA, can collaborate with American Job Centers, community colleges, and adult education providers to develop integrated education and training programs—including Registered Apprenticeships—at the workplace to help employees gain basic and technical skills and advance to the next level of work. Further, this collaboration can support regional sector strategies and the development of career pathways that support job seekers and help meet the needs of employers.
  • WIOA places a great emphasis on serving out-of-school youth. The new law requires local communities to spend at least 75 percent of available youth funding, or approximately $500 million, on this population. This provision goes into effect July 1, 2015. By partnering with the public sector to provide apprenticeships, internships, summer jobs, and other on-the-job training experiences, businesses can help the nation maximize opportunities for disconnected youth and young adults and build a skilled workforce.

The UpSkill America initiative, the implementation of WIOA, the modernization and expansion of apprenticeships, and the implementation of the executive actions in the Ready to Work report are all contributing to the momentum that is building in our country to make sure that all Americans have the skills that employers need and that will allow them to get ahead.

 

Johan E. Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education