“This [work] is really about the future of the middle class.” That is how U.S. Secretary of Labor Perez framed the work of The Skills Working Group (Work Group), earlier this week. Secretary Perez brought Cabinet members together to talk about how the Administration can make sure that everyone has the skills they need to get a job or get ahead. Members of the Work Group identified priorities and projects to focus their joint work. They discussed how best to maintain a national focus on skills and maintain interagency collaboration on skills beyond 2016.
In November 2014, Perez launched the Work Group, an effort to keep the momentum of the Job-Driven Training Initiative. This initiative is making sure that youth and adults leaving our education and training programs have the skills businesses need. Thirteen federal agencies, the White House National Economic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget make up the Work 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 Work Group coordinates activities across these various agencies.
Overview of Job-Driven Training Milestones:
Jan. 2014 State of the Union: President Obama announces Job-Driven Training initiative and asks Vice President Biden to lead a federal government wide review of job training programs.
Feb-Jun 2014 Job-Driven Training Review: White House and agencies develop job-driven checklist and review job-training programs across 13 agencies.
July 2014 Ready to Work Job Driven Training Initiative Report: White House releases job-driven training report with the results of the job-driven review and an action plan for moving forward, including:
- Steps to make competitive and formula program more “job-driven”
- Collaborative efforts across agencies to better align systems, braid funding, and enhance coordination
- A call to action around long-term unemployment, upskilling, and tech hiring
Nov. 2014 Skills Working Group Launched: Launch of the interagency Skills Working Group in November 2014 to maintain focus and attention around interagency, collaborative efforts component of job-driven training initiative, as well as emerging opportunities around cross-agency skills coordination.
Dec. 2014 Sub-Committees Meet: Skills Working Group deputies establish sub-committees that met in December and over the holidays to develop initial project work plans.
Jan. 2015 State of the Union: President Obama acknowledges the success of Vice President Biden’s job-driven training initiative and highlights apprenticeship and upskilling.
Members presented the goals, objectives, activities, and expected outcomes developed by interagency work teams focused on four topics. Secretary Perez presented on apprenticeship. Secretary Moniz discussed possible pilots for better coordination around skills in targeted communities. Secretary Pritzker introduced technology innovations. And we discussed efforts to increase the skills of 24 million front-line workers so they can advance to higher-paying jobs. We also talked about ways to get more states involved in creating career pathway programs.
Following these mini-presentations, we spoke about what we are already doing and about what more we can do together.
We left the meeting with a clear sense of direction to develop and implement together a comprehensive strategy to solve America’s skills challenge.
Guest Bloggers: Johan E. Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Carmen Drummond is a Special Assistant and Policy Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary. Uvin and Drummond are facilitating the career pathways and upskilling work stream of The Skills Working Group.