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.

Engaging in STEM Where We Live

Some public housing authorities (PHAs) are at the forefront of communities that are adopting place-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives, involving family members from preschoolers to adults, and creating opportunities to learn that are life-wide and lifelong.

Increasing exposure to and engagement in STEM learning outside of formal classroom settings is increasingly viewed as key to turning on more young people to STEM studies, and to addressing the equity gaps between high- and low-resourced families, schools, and communities. Recently the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter to help state and local education agencies and their partners better understand how to use Federal funds to support innovative STEM education strategies to address equity goals.

The PHAs featured here, representing over 31,091 residents, with an average household income of $11,109, are part of communities participating in the SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development) initiative, supported in part by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), and Energy (DOE). See a previous blog on the SEED sites.  In a three month period last fall, these PHAs have documented 138 STEM-related activities and training that have reached over 1,200 residents.

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New Cybersecurity Education Funding Opportunity

A new funding opportunity was announced by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) to establish state or regional consortia to identify cybersecurity workforce development pathways that address local workforce needs. The goal of these Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) Cybersecurity Education and Workforce Development awards is to enhance and create partnerships of employers, schools, and community organizations that focus on cybersecurity skill shortages within a local or regional economy. The program provides an opportunity for secondary and postsecondary educational institutions to help meet the growing need for cybersecurity professionals.

The program supports the President’s job-driven Ready to Work Initiative and focuses on the critical national need to build a high quality cybersecurity workforce.

A webinar will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time to provide general information regarding this opportunity, offer general guidance on preparing applications, and answer questions. The grant is being funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Key dates

(all times Eastern Time)
Application Open Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2106
Informational Webinar: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 11:00 a.m.
Application Deadline: Tuesday, July 12, 2016, by 11:59 p.m.

Links to more information

Partnerships Advance Correctional and Reentry Education

The U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with other federal agencies, just concluded National Reentry Week.  This was a cross-agency effort geared towards collaboration around helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals reenter and reintegrate with society. Reentry Week highlights included a proposed rule by the Office of Personnel Management to “ban the box” in federal hiring and a roadmap to reentry released by the Bureau of Prisons to assist federal inmates with reentry, guided by evidence based practices and principles.

Federal efforts to support reentry are not just limited to one week out of the year. One of the hallmarks of the Obama administration has been cross-agency collaboration to address collateral consequences of justice involvement. The Federal Interagency Reentry Council, the Improved Reentry Education and Promoting Reentry Success Through the Continuity of Educational Opportunities grant programs, and joint Department of Justice and Department of Education guidance around correctional education are just a few examples of successful, meaningful, and impactful collaborations.

Beyond the Box image of Checkbox

Image from Beyond the Box resource guide

The Department of Education has also released a “Beyond the Box” resource guide and Dear Colleague Letter encouraging postsecondary institutions to assess whether criminal justice information is necessary to make an informed admission decision and highlight the importance of supporting all students, including those who have been incarcerated or come in contact with the justice system, toward postsecondary completion upon admittance. This new guide marks a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to mitigating unnecessary collateral impacts of incarceration and helping colleges and universities to design admissions policies that attract a diverse and qualified student body without creating unnecessary barriers for prospective students who have been involved with the justice system.

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Career Pathways: A Common Commitment

Image of joint letter on Career Pathways signed by 12 agencies.

Download the joint letter on Career Pathways signed by 12 agencies.

See the joint blog post on ED’s Homeroom Blog that announces a new 12-agency joint letter in support of career pathways and a common definition.

This letter marks a major milestone in the federal effort to align policies and technical assistance to support career pathways approaches in every community.

Through shared definitions and goals for career pathway systems, the federal government is taking steps toward removing obstacles for state and local areas to streamline programs and services to make it easier for individuals, including those with significant disabilities, to navigate and succeed in attaining their career goals.

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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Reentry Education Framework Report and Toolkit Launched

The logo of the Reentry Education Toolkit contains Icons of a gear, a handshake, a book with a computer mouse, a correctional institution, and a stylized process icon.

The logo and icons of the Reentry Education Toolkit.

OCTAE is pleased to announce the release of the Reentry Education Framework which is designed to help reentry education providers create a seamless path for their students, by connecting education services offered in correctional facilities with those in the community.

The Framework highlights five critical components of an effective reentry system: program infrastructure, strategic partnerships, education services, transition processes, and sustainability. Each component can be tailored to the specific context and needs of the education provider, its partners, and the target population.

To learn more about the Framework and access implementation tools, please visit:

  • An online tool kit that provides guidelines, tools, and resources for each framework component.
  • The Reentry Education Framework report that includes lessons learned and examples from three reentry education programs.
  • A short video that describes the Framework and tool kit.
  • A report and video on the current use of advanced technologies in corrections.

Let’s Commit to Giving CTE Students the Opportunity They Demand and Deserve

Career and technical education (CTE) has changed a lot from the “old vocational education” that many of us know from our school days. For the better part of this century, States and local communities have worked steadily to build high-quality CTE programs that are academically rigorous and aligned with labor market demands. The whole idea of the artificial separation between academic and technical pathways is passé. Most professions and careers in the 2016 and future economies require strong academic foundation skills, considerable technical knowledge and skills, and well-developed employability skills and attributes. There is nothing about CTE today that is not rigorous, relevant, and worth it.

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Photo of Johan Uvin
Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE
Posted by
Director of Policy, OCTAE
SLMiller2
Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education, OCTAE

Upcoming Webinar on Teaching Transportation

Innovative Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Partnerships, a webinar on effective teaching strategies, is scheduled for February 24, 2016. The 90-minute webinar is being hosted by the Southwest Transportation Workforce Center (SWTWC), which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The webinar is being held from 3:30pm to 5:00pm Eastern Time (12:30pm to 2:00pm Pacific Time) and will feature teachers, administrators, and industry partners who will discuss innovative education programs and teaching models for grades 6 through 12. The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is co-hosting the event.

For more information and to register for the webinar visit http://www.swtwc.org/itdlp-webinar.

Posted by
Education Program Specialist, OCTAE

Strengthening Working Families Initiatives: $25M Funding Opportunity

This is a cross-posted announcement from the Department of Labor. 

DOL announces $25 million available for partnerships that improve access to education and training and quality, affordable child care for parents looking to expand their skills.

These grants reflect the Obama administration’s commitment to support working families and fuel policies aligned with 21st Century workforce realities.

To help parents obtain affordable, quality child care necessary to pursue education and training opportunities leading to good jobs in growing industries, the U.S. Department of Labor today on December 17 the availability of up to $25 million in grants through the Strengthening Working Families Initiative.

The grants will support public-private partnerships that bridge gaps between local workforce development and child-care systems. In addition to addressing these systemic barriers, funded programs will enable parents to access training and customized supportive services needed for IT, health care, advanced manufacturing jobs, and others. All participants in grant funded programs must be custodial parents, legal guardians, foster parents, or others standing in loco parentis with at least one dependent. Up to 25 percent of the grantees total budget may be used to provide quality, affordable care and other services to support their participation in training.

“For too many working parents, access to quality, affordable child care remains a persistent barrier to getting the training and education they need to move forward on a stronger, more sustainable career path,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Our economy works best when we field a full team. That means doing everything we can to provide flexible training options and streamlined services that can help everyone in America realize their dreams.”

Grants up to $4 million will be awarded to partnerships that include the public workforce system, education and training providers, business entities, and local child-care or human-service providers. In addition, all partnerships must include at least three employers. Grantees will also be required to secure an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the total requested funds through outside leveraged resources.

The department will award grants in spring 2016 with program activities beginning in July 2016. For additional information and to apply, read the full funding opportunity announcement online at Grants.gov.