WIOA Provides Opportunity for Partnership to Serve Out of School Youth

This blog is cross-posted from the WorkforceGPS site, see https://youth.workforcegps.org/blog/general/2017/01/18/15/08/EdLaborPartnership.  

WIOA places heightened emphasis on the alignment of programs that serve out-of-school youth in order to ensure they obtain the skills necessary to prepare for successful workforce participation and continued educational achievement.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014, presents a unique opportunity for collaboration among the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Department of Education (ED), States, local workforce development areas, other workforce and education partners, as well as social service providers, in order to improve the lives of our nation’s out-of-school youth (OSY).  WIOA places heightened emphasis on the alignment of programs that serve out-of-school youth in order to ensure they obtain the skills necessary to prepare for successful workforce participation and continued educational achievement.

For many years, the adult education program, administered by ED and authorized under title II of WIOA, has reconnected older OSY with the educational system and equipped them with the foundational skills to pursue postsecondary education, training, and meaningful work.  The formula youth program, administered by DOL and authorized under title I of WIOA, requires that 75 percent of funds be used on services for OSY, which will assist young adults in obtaining the necessary skills, including high school diplomas, to prepare for and complete postsecondary education and training and achieve high levels of career readiness.  More than 5.5 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 without a high school diploma or an equivalent are neither in school nor employed.  By working together, State and local workforce and education partners can maximize the potential of these young adults through implementing evidence-based practices to support the successful achievement of their educational and career goals.

To facilitate these efforts, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education (Departments) are releasing a technical assistance document that:

  • provide strategies and examples of State and local partnerships that facilitate the reengagement of OSY;
  • support communities working with in-school youth in accordance with WIOA; and
  • address strategies for serving out-of-school English learners, current and former foster youth, and justice-involved youth.

Along with the technical assistance on OSY, additional documents may be distributed among all potential partners that serve youth and young adults.  The technical assistance documents are available:

The technical assistance provided in these documents offers a number of examples of ways in which different partners can work together to build career pathways that are a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and support services that align with local skill needs and prepare youth and young adults to be successful in secondary or postsecondary education programs and the labor market.

Ultimately, long-term success for OSY will require engagement beyond the scope of workforce and education agencies.  It takes the engagement of entire communities to catalyze change and create multiple pathways to facilitate education, career, and lifelong success.  These discussions, therefore, must include businesses, colleges and universities, State and district superintendents, teachers and other youth service providers, community-based organizations, local social service agencies, and families and youth themselves.

We hope this technical assistance series will support creative and impactful youth-focused strategies and be a resource in engaging these diverse partners in this important work.  Together we will strengthen our nation’s workforce by supporting the nation’s youth in graduating from secondary and postsecondary education programs, participating successfully in career pathways, and achieving their career goals.

Why Are We Not Giving Women a Second Chance?

Are women in the United States more dangerous and prone to criminal activity than those in other countries?  Looking solely at criminal justice statistics, one may tend to believe this idea.  While incarceration rates for women have reached historic highs, women in this country are no more likely to be a threat to our society as they would be in any other country.  Why, then, has the U.S. disproportionately put women behind bars?

Decades of questionable criminal justice policies in our country have created a culture of over incarceration that is unmatched by any other nation.  We need to pay more attention to the plight of incarcerated women in order to ensure they are offered the same educational and workforce opportunities as men. The Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) recently conducted a survey of the competency levels of incarcerated adults. Amongst the data, they found that 85 percent of incarcerated women did not complete any form of education beyond a high school diploma or GED while incarcerated.[1]  Today’s economy is increasingly demanding and it is important that everyone is prepared to compete in it.  It is estimated that as early as 2018, nearly two-thirds of all job announcement will require applicants to have achieved some level of postsecondary education. [2]  We as a society cannot afford to continue to incarcerate our mothers, sisters, and daughters without giving them the proper resources for a second chance.

While only 5 percent of the world’s population of women live in the U.S., our country is home to almost 30 percent of the world’s incarcerated women (twice the percentage as China and four times as much as Russia).[3]  In fact, the top 44 jurisdictions of incarcerated women in the world are composed of individual U.S. states (with the exception of the U.S. as a whole and Thailand).[4]  Women represent the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population with an incarceration rate that is double that of men in the past 30 years.[5]  From 1980 to 2014, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700 percent, from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014.[6]

This skyrocketing number of incarcerated women is clearly a problem. So how did we get here? While there is no single reason for this spike, however, the war on drugs is one possible explanation for the increase.  A zero tolerance anti-drug campaign combined with the adoption of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug offenses played a role in contributing to increased incarceration rates.  Women today are twice as likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses as they were in 1986 and almost twice as likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses as men.[7]

Increased contact with the justice system is not just a problem for adult women. The largest percentage of incarcerated girls are incarcerated due to status offenses (crimes that would not otherwise be classified as a crime for adults such as skipping school and running away) and technical violations.[8]  Entering the justice system at this young age may create a dangerous cycle of incarceration that is difficult to escape. This cycle can be exacerbated if proper intervention and support is not provided.

While this over-incarceration presents a serious problem for our country, a tremendous opportunity is also ahead of us.  Criminal justice reform is a topic that has sparked a bipartisan interest.   In 2014 and 2015 alone, 46 states enacted 201 bills, executive orders, and ballot propositions to reform some aspect of their criminal justice system.[9] While this is encouraging, it is important to point out that while the rates and population of incarcerated women have significantly increased, women represent only 7 percent of the U.S. incarcerated population today.[10]  It may be easy for a jurisdiction to overlook the alarming trends of incarcerated women if they look at their population in the aggregate.  As criminal justice reform continues, it is important that we take into account the unique challenges facing women when we design policies and interventions to enact these reforms.

Daniel Gaytan

Guest Blogger: Daniel Gaytan
Policy Analyst
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Providing incarcerated women with the same educational and workforce resources that are currently available to men is an important and easy first step to reduce their chances of recidivating.  It is up to each of us in our communities, counties, and states to ensure that we are providing men and women the opportunity for successful reentry.  We know that incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education are 43 percent less likely to recidivate and 58 percent more likely to find post-release employment than individuals who do not participate.[11]  It is time women are given equal access to these programs. 

[1] Rampey, B.D., Keiper, S., Mohadjer, L., Krenzke, T., Li, J., Thornton, N., and Hogan, J. (2016). Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training: Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies: 2014 (NCES 2016-040). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.  https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2016040.

[2] Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018 (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010).

[3] Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon. Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System: Policy Strategies and Program Options (Civic Research Institute, 2006, 2011). https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/.

[4] Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon.

[5] American Civil Liberties Union.  Facts about the Over-Incarceration of Women in the United States.   https://www.aclu.org/other/facts-about-over-incarceration-women-united-states 

[6] Carson, E.A. (2015). Prisoners in 2014. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

[7] Carson, E.A.

[8] Sickmund, M., Sladky, M., Kang, T.J., and Puzzanchera, C. (2015). Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

[9] Rebecca Silber, Ram Subramanian, and Maia Spotts. Justice in Review: New Trends in State Sentencing and Corrections 2014-2015. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2016.

[10] Rampey, B.D., Keiper, S., Mohadjer, L., Krenzke, T., Li, J., Thornton, N., and Hogan, J.

[11] Davis, Lois M., Jennifer L. Steele, Robert Bozick, Malcolm Williams, Susan Turner, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Jessica Saunders and Paul S. Steinberg. How Effective Is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here? The Results of a Comprehensive Evaluation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2014. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR564.html, 15.

A First Job Can Change a Life

Photo of Secretary King seated to the right of panelists at the #FirstJob Compact summit

Secretary King moderates a panel at the #FirstJob Compact summit

“During my time with young people… I was able to teach them skills and, hopefully, show them that their contributions – their skills, their experiences, their imaginations – are valuable. A sense of possibility can make all the difference for an individual and for a community,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary John King at the First Job Compact Implementation Convening.

Yesterday, Secretary King provided opening remarks and facilitated a panel with youth and employers at the First Job Compact Implementation Convening. This is the second convening of its kind that seeks to establish best practices and strategies for enabling Opportunity Youth— youth ages 16-24 who are out-of-work and out-of-school—to obtain their first job. Over 100 human resources and talent leaders, as well as non-profits and agency colleagues, gathered to discuss these strategies and how to make them part of their company’s business plan.

Secretary King also announced that the U.S. Department of Education(ED), in consultation with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, intends to provide technical assistance funding to help public housing authorities connect youth who have aged out of the foster care system with high quality career and technical education programs. Through this investment, ED hopes to assist career and technical education programs to better meet the needs of current and former foster youth. The project also seeks to improve coordination among the child welfare system and other federal programs.

About one in seven young people between the ages of 16-24 are either not in school or not working. These individuals are known as Opportunity Youth. The unemployment rate for individuals 16-24 sits at 11 percent and is even higher among African-American and Latino youth (22 percent and 12 percent respectively). Early in the Obama Administration, the White House convened corporations to encourage companies to create pathways for Opportunity Youth to gain their first job. Additionally, in President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address, he announced the importance of creating an economy that works better for everybody, including a plan for Opportunity Youth to gain the work experience, skills, and networks that come from having a job. This effort will not only change the lives of youth and communities across the country, but it will also create and build a sustainable and resilient workforce.

Yesterday’s convening included companies such as Gap and Chipotle, who signed on to the First Job Compact. Through a series of engaging panels, corporations share best practices needed to move this work forward. These companies understand that the Compact’s objectives are mutually beneficial to their companies and the youth it serves. Companies often report that young people struggle to find jobs because they lack basic workplace skills and behaviors. By committing to a set of best practices to hire and support these youth, companies will be able to identify and leverage the vital skills and backgrounds these youth bring to the job and in turn increase their interview to hire ratio, retention rate, speed to promotion, and engagement scores to meet company goals. For almost a decade, Gap has engaged in This Way Ahead, which is a paid life skills and internship program that helps low-income youth land a first job at our Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic stores.

Through strong collaboration, industry and government will remain committed to reconnecting Opportunity Youth to education and workforce opportunities. Recently, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report “Work-based Learning for Youth at Risk: Getting Employers on Board” which aims to tackle the common challenge to growing youth job training by establishing the idea that employers first need to see work-based learning as a way to help their business. Read more about this report and further analysis in this blog by New America.

It is clear this this issue has already stirred national interest. President Obama recently released a fact sheet on innovative ways to fund the First Job initiative. In conjunction with ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), the Administration has engaged in a #FirstJob Skills Campaign which seeks to leverage social media and celebrities to connect youth to educational resources to help improve their employability skills. As a part of these efforts, OCTAE released a fact sheet entitled Employability Skills: Supporting Opportunity Youth to Be Successful in Their First Job. This administration firmly believes that these efforts will strengthen our workforce, grow our economy, and change lives.

Responding to the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults

It is an unfortunate truth that our country incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation.  There are an estimated 2.2 million people incarcerated across the United States, compared to 500,000 just 30 years ago. The vast majority of incarcerated individuals will eventually leave prison and jail and reenter our society.  Becoming productive members of society, is just another challenge for a formerly incarcerated person to overcome in an increasingly competitive economy.  Today’s job market requires more advanced skills and industry recognized credentials than ever before. While no single solution may exist to assist justice involved individuals with reentry, correctional education has proven to be an effective tool.  In addition to helping individuals gain the skills they need for reentry, evidence suggests participating in correctional education programs decrease their chances of recidivating by 43%.[1]

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), released a report, Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training: Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2014, assessing the skills, education and training of our incarcerated population.  This report provides us with fresh data on the current state of literacy and numeracy competencies of incarcerated adults in state and federal prisons in the U.S.  The data demonstrates the continued need to nurture rigorous and effective correctional education programs not only as a means for individuals to improve their situation, but also as an effective public safety measure.

Read Secretary King’s Dear Colleague letter to learn more about the report, and to find out about other measures ED is taking to ensure incarcerated and justice-involved individuals have a fair shot at a successful reentry.

[1] Davis, L. M., Bozick, R., Steele, J.L., Saunders, J. & Miles, J. N. V. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A MetaAnalysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2013. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR266.html

Opportunity@Work and OCTAE Announce Partnership

It Is Time to Rewire the Labor Market, Particularly for Those Americans Who Get Overlooked Too Often

The current system of hiring- where employers hire for open positions based on a person’s education and job history- is outdated, overlooks millions of people, and leaves too many jobs unfilled. Opportunity@Work and a growing number of public and private agencies are working to transform these outdated hiring practices by proving to companies that they can hire based on mastery rather than pedigree by giving everyone a chance to show what they can do. If you have the skills to fill a vacant job, then you should get the job.

Tess Posner, Managing Director of TechHire for Opportunity@Work, Kim R. Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Management, Carmen Drummond, Chief of Staff, Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and Yolanda Townsend, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for Opportunity@Work take a moment to celebrate the agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and Opportunity@Work to support TechHire and other communities interested in using demand-side approaches to get more Americans to work.

Tess Posner, Managing Director of TechHire for Opportunity@Work, Kim R. Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Management, Carmen Drummond, Chief of Staff, Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and Yolanda Townsend, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for Opportunity@Work take a moment to celebrate the agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and Opportunity@Work to support TechHire and other communities interested in using demand-side approaches to get more Americans to work.

“If employers want to solve the skills gap, the solution is to hire for skills mastery rather than resume history.” — Byron Auguste, CEO and Co-Founder, Opportunity@Work

Read More

Improved Reentry Education Grantee Recognized by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is an industry-led, training, assessment and certification system. Their mission is focused on advancing the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production and material handling workers to allow workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills needed for technology intensive jobs. MSSC recently highlighted work being done to help incarcerated individuals who are returning to their communities secure jobs, increase public safety, and save money.

OCTAE is pleased that one of the Improved Reentry Education grantees, Washburn Institute of Technology, was highlighted as an organization which features a MSSC pre-release program. The program allows students to obtain a Certified Production Technician credential, thanks to a partnership between Washburn University, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Department of Corrections, and the Kansas Workforce Center. These programs help individuals acquire certifications and credentials, allowing them to succeed in the labor market and break the cycle of incarceration.

An important part of this programming is tracking student outcomes to help ascertain success, and the Washburn students excelled in the program. Of 184 students who participated in the program, almost 1,000 credentials were earned, including over 500 full Certified Production Technician credentials.  Since March 31, 2016, 70 students had been released, with 60% of them obtaining gainful employment after reentering, and only 12% of students re-incarcerated.

Learn more in the following linked resources:

OCTAE’s Office of Correctional Education

The Reentry Education Toolkit, designed to help programs and communities improve services for returning citizens

A Community Practice for Correctional Educators, with over 700 participating members

Nondegree Credentials in Correctional Education: Status, Challenges, and Benefits (Department of Education, 2016)

Ability to Benefit Webinar

 Updated Nov. 4: Please see the slides from the Oct. 27 webinar. 

Cover image of slides

Slides from the Ability to Benefit webinar are now available.

Ability to Benefit 10/27/2016 slides

 

The Higher Education Act (HEA) was amended to restore the ability to benefit (ATB) provisions, thus allowing individuals without a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent to access Title IV financial aid as long as they are enrolled in an eligible career pathway consistent with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Join a webinar on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 3:00-4:30 pm Eastern Time, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education on administering the ATB provisions under the HEA. The webinar will share guidance from the Department and present strategies for developing and strengthening local career pathways programs. Additionally, postsecondary institutions will share lessons learned and promising practices from ATB program implementation.

Webinar presenters include: 

Read More

OCTAE Celebrates Historic Educational Achievements

On October 17, 2016, the White House released a fact sheet that summarized the many remarkable achievements in education accomplished by the Obama Administration. OCTAE celebrates our teachers’, leaders’, and students’ contributions to these accomplishments, including

  • America’s high school graduation rate reaching a record new high of 83.2 percent
  • a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority populations
  • a vision of Next Generation High Schools
  • work to develop and support great teachers
  • work to promote college success

See President Obama’s full remarks at a Benjamin Banneker Academic High School Washington, D.C. high school.

Read the full fact sheet.

No More Blank Resumes

I remember my first job well. I tended to greenhouses and operated machines. It taught me so much. I learned how to show up on time every day. I learned how to get tasks done irrespective of whether they excited me or not. I developed relationships with adults and learned how to work in a team and resolve conflicts. I learned how to receive and respond to feedback. I learned about consequences of mistakes. I learned about accountability and rewards. I appreciated the structure my first job brought to my life. And, as a young man, I sure appreciated the extra cash. But, perhaps most importantly, I ended up with some experience I could put on my resume or on an application form.

All young people need a first-job. It gives them some experience, increases their confidence, and allows them to develop their networks. But not all are getting it. One in seven young people aged 16 to 24 are both out of school and out of work – a population that is disproportionately young men of color.  That is why, on Tuesday, the White House launched the #FirstJob Compact of Best Practices for Hiring, Recruiting, and Supporting Young People —a set of best practices that were designed with leading companies in hiring and promoting young people who are not in school or working. The #FirstJob Compact will accomplish several things including identifying jobs and internships for youth with no experience and developing a plan to support these youth once hired. It also calls on nonprofits, school districts, workforce development boards, and others to help recruit these youth.

Nearly 40 major companies have signed on as Founding Members of #FirstJob Compact. Gap Inc. is one of these companies and has committed to expanding its life skills and paid internship program. This Way Ahead is the name of Gap’s program that gives 16 to 24 year olds from low-income communities training and in-store work experience. Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy will recruit five percent of all entry-level store employees from graduates from this program by 2025, or approximately 5,000 hires per year.

I am calling on employers in the education sector to do the same. There are approximately 13,500 school districts and almost 100,000 public schools, 2,300 adult education programs, and more than 7,000 institutions of higher education in the U.S. If each of these institutions offers just one young person their first job, then we will have made an important step in the right direction. Let’s work together to end resumes that have blanks in the experience section.

Photo of Johan Uvin
Posted by
Johan E. Uvin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary (delegated the duties of the Assistant Secretary) for career, technical, and adult education at the U.S. Department of Education.

USCIS Awards Citizenship and Integration Grants in 21 States

This information is cross-posted from the USCIS site. Read the full press release and list of providers here.

On Sept. 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the award of nearly $10 million in grants under two competitive funding opportunities to 46 organizations to help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship. The recipient organizations serve both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant gateway cities in 21 states. The grant recipients will provide citizenship preparation services to approximately 25,000 permanent residents from more than 50 countries. The recipients represent:

  • Seventeen of the top 20 states with the largest permanent resident populations (California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ohio Minnesota and Colorado);
  • Nine of the top 10 metropolitan areas with the most new permanent residents in the past 10 years (New York City; Los Angeles; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; San Francisco; Houston; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Boston); and
  • Nine of the top 10 states with the most naturalizations over the last 10 years (California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington).