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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This article is cross-posted on the UpNext! blog hosted by IMLS and the Department of Labor blog.
Guest authors: Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor
Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, and
Susan Hildreth, Director of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
Our agencies have long recognized the role of libraries to help meet the workforce training and job search needs of the American public. At the height of the recession, more than 30 million people reported using library computers for workforce related needs and 3.7 million of them reported finding work. Today, 96 percent of libraries surveyed offer online job and employment resources and 78 percent offer programs to help people apply for jobs.
In July, the President signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) which strengthens and aligns Federal employment, education, and training services. Overwhelmingly approved by both the House and the Senate, the legislation is the result of a bipartisan agreement that recognizes the vital role the workforce system plays in providing the services and resources job seekers need to access the kinds of skills training, career information, and education that are required for today’s job market. The Act aligns with and complements the President’s Vision for Job-Driven Workforce Development, as it prepares workers for 21st century jobs and ensures American businesses have skilled workers to be competitive in global economy.
We are pleased that WIOA includes several exciting changes that better align federal resources and call for local community-based partnerships to increase access to services. WIOA explicitly identifies public libraries as potential partners of the American Job Center network, and acknowledges libraries’ ability to provide an expansive array of job search services. It also recognizes libraries as important providers of federally supported training and employment for adult education and literacy. WIOA instructs state and local workforce development boards to boost “digital literacy skills” at American Job Centers – a task perfectly suited to public libraries!
We are delighted that the role public libraries play in workforce development is being acknowledged. Every day, people in communities across the United States use libraries to access the Web for career development—boosting their skills through online learning, improving their English literacy and digital literacy, and finding work. Public libraries can do even more with better collaboration with state and local workforce boards.
We thank American Job Centers, the nation’s employment skills training programs, and public libraries for all they do to serve our nation’s job seekers and contribute to the country’s economic vitality. Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we will deliver better coordinated services so that students and jobseekers acquire the skills needed in a competitive 21st century economy.
On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will host a National Dialogue on Career Pathways. Federal agency leaders from each Department will provide opening remarks on the impact of building effective career pathways can have on our nation’s workforce system. In addition, the Dialogue will highlight strategies and lessons learned from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders. Among the featured speakers will be
Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education
Mark Greenburg, Acting Assistance Secretary for Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families
David L. Casey, Vice President for Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark
Maura Banta, Director of Global Citizenship Initiatives at IBM USA
National stakeholders representing business, organized labor, education, workforce and health and human services agencies are encouraged to host events in conjunction with the broadcast. To help organize the event, a national Viewing Party Guide is now available. Leading career pathways states and local areas, such as Colorado, Kansas, and Charlotte, NC will be highlighted as well as innovative career pathways practices from organizations like Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, IL and Wider Opportunities for Women.
The National Dialogue will be broadcast via live stream beginning at 9:00 AM EDT and end at 4:00 PM EDT. Before and during the event, you are encouraged to post questions on Twitter using the hashtag #careerpathways. The federal team will monitor your questions on Twitter and respond to them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during the event.
Sign up now to get email alerts from the new Career Pathways Exchange, a project funded by OCTAE to support states’ work on career pathways. This email-based information service will connect interested stakeholders with career pathways-related resources, news, and events from a wide network of federal agencies and partner organizations. Members can select to receive email digests on their topics of interest, including: Building Cross-agency Partnerships, Identifying Sector/Engaging Employers, Designing Programs, Identifying Funding Needs, Aligning Policy and Programs, and Measuring System Change and Evaluations.
Suggested Social Media Posts for the National Dialogue:
Pre-event post: Join @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov on 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET for a live stream plenary on #careerpathways.
Pre-event post: On 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET, @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov will speak live about job-driven #careerpathways. Don’t miss it!
Day-of post: Join business leaders @cvscaremarkfyi’s David Casey and @IBM’s Maura Banta today via live stream @ National Dialogue! #careerpathways
Day-of post: America, let’s talk about #careerpathways today! Share your thoughts with us @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov. Join the Dialogue.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) thank all the contributors who submitted comments on the implementation of WIOA Title II and Title IV. We received 277 comments by the closing on August 29, 2014. See all the comments here.
This thoughtful feedback will be reviewed by the Offices and considered as we prepare the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on proposed regulations.
Please watch for the next opportunity to submit comments in January 2015 when the NPRM is released in the Federal Register.
Join a webinar, The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): An Overview of Adult Education and Literacy, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). This webinar will provide a broad overview of the legislation, key dates for implementation, and useful information on resources and materials for adult education and literacy partners and stakeholders. The event will also feature a panel of representatives from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor.
Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Time: 2:30pm – 4:00pm ET
The webinar will stream live from this link on the EdStream site and will be recorded. No registration or call-in phone number is necessary.
Please distribute this opportunity broadly with program staff, and representatives of local education agencies, researchers, business and industry, and other stakeholders.