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.

5 Million Reasons to Care About Youth Not in Education or Jobs

OCTAE has been shining a spotlight on the challenges faced by disconnected youth and the programming models focused on their challenges for the past several years. These are youth roughly 16 to 24 years of age, who are not engaged in education and not employed. They may be living at home or be homeless. They may be in or may have emancipated from the foster care system. They may be high school non-completers or those who have completed some college courses or received credentials. They may live in urban, rural or suburban communities. They may be in or released from justice-involved facilities. They may be single, married, and/or parents.

With this post, OCTAE kicks off a blog series examining what we know about disconnected youth, promising programming models, and the data used to track progress in reconnecting youth with education, training, employment, community, and their families.

We use the term “disconnected” youth, as this is the term used in the statutes and authorities that allow OCTAE to support disconnected youth. These “disconnected” youth have also been called “opportunity” youth.

Youth Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

If you are like me, you like good news more than bad news. That is why many of us in the youth development and education fields were ecstatic to learn that there are almost 300,000 fewer youth who are disconnected than there were in 2010. That is great news.

Not such great news is that these gains vary a lot – and we would argue, too much – depending on where youth live and their race, gender, ethnicity, and home language. Of equal concern is that there are still more than 5 million disconnected youth in our country.

The new data from the Survey of Adult Skills can inform us about youth in the United States who are Not in Employment, Education, or Training, or NEET youth, as the OECD calls these youth.[1]

The U.S. National Supplement of the Survey of Adult Skills, released on March 10, 2016, reported on an enhanced sample in the U.S. that oversampled the unemployed, young adults (ages 16-34), and older adults (ages 66-74).[2] These data allow us to examine the education and work status of youth, their educational and family backgrounds, skill use at work and in everyday life, and proficiency of directly-assessed foundation skills (literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving).

As the Survey of Adult Skills data have shown, in the U.S. economy, skills matter – almost as much as a credential. The question then becomes: what skills do NEET youth possess? Do they have the foundation skills they need to re-connect and get ahead?

The U.S. National Supplement found that nearly 5% of 16-24 year olds were in NEET status, that is, not engaged in employment, education or training in the 12 months before responding to the Survey. Many of these NEET youth have very low skills. A quarter of NEET youth perform below Level 2 in literacy, and 45% perform as low in numeracy.

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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.

Get Involved in the National Week of Making

The National Week of Making is quickly approaching! We are less than one month away from the June 17th kick-off! There are plenty of ways you can get involved.

Learn about the National Week of MakingPhoto of White House made of Lego blocks

Webinars are being held to provide information about the National Week of Making. The next webinar is being held on Thursday, May 19, at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. If you are not able to make that session, there will be an additional webinar next week. Registration links are provided below:

Webinar Schedule (all times Eastern):

Make a commitment

Let the White House know what new actions, commitments, or other activities you or your organization might be considering by going to the Nation of Makers website and submitting your information on the “What are you making?” form.

Nominate a Champion of Change

If you know someone who has had a significant impact on moving Making forward, you can nominate them as a Champion of Change. As part of the National Week of Making, the White House will be sharing stories of the countless leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators who work daily within their local communities across the country. The Administration wants your help to identify Champions of Change who are working to make advances in technology, platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday May 18, 2016 (it just takes 5 minutes). You can read more about the call for nominations on the White House Blog and submit nominations at https://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Learn about the CTE Makeover Challenge

OCTAE launched the CTE Makeover Challenge to encourage more makerspaces in high schools. Contact your local high school to see if they were one of the more than 600 schools that entered the Challenge. You can learn more information about the Challenge at CTEMakeoverChallenge.com. The CTE Makeover Bootcamp phase of the Challenge will be concluding on May 22 when schools will submit Blueprints for their makerspaces. Stay tuned on #CTEMakeover.

Local activities

We are looking forward to the National Week of Making and invite you to join forces with us from June 17th through the 23rd and get involved in your local community. Here are a few ways folks in the maker community are already active:

  • Posting photos using #NationOfMakers to show your latest creation and share news about your events.
  • Organizing an event and/or hosting an open house at your local school, library, rec center, makerspace or set up a hangout online to connect and share your inventions with Makers across the country. Some have posted their events on a community website such as weekofmaking.org
  • Volunteering to be a mentor for someone who is interested in learning a new skill or find a mentor who would be interested in teaching a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn for a while.
  • Organizing a maker roundtable, maker town hall, or maker tour to convene thought leaders and decision makers in your community. (See what was done in Cleveland.)
  • Your brilliant idea here!

Stay updated

More information about the National Week of Making, National Maker Faire, and Making can be found on the following websites, and share your thoughts and ideas using the following hashtags.

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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FCC Modernizes Lifeline Program For the Digital Age

OCTAE Applauds New Rules That Will Help Make Home Broadband More Affordable for Low-Income Americans

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has modernized and reformed its Lifeline program to help low-income consumers afford access to broadband Internet access. Lifeline is a program that has helped make telephone service affordable for low-income Americans since 1985.

OCTAE has long championed increased access to the Internet for teachers, students, and classrooms, spreading the word of opportunities such as ConnectED, ConnectHome, and EveryoneOn. We recognize the importance of Internet access to increase the rigor and relevance of classroom teaching and homework; make learning anytime, anywhere a possibility for all; and provide families with connections to information, civic opportunity, health information, and consumer savings.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 30 percent of households whose incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, and this low-income group makes up about 40% of all families with school-age children in the United States.

To learn more about the Lifeline program for low-income Americans, visit https://www.fcc.gov/general/lifeline-program-low-income-consumers.

 

Free Consumer Protection Tools for Educators and Students

A guest blog by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission 

April is Financial Literacy Month! Find free tools to help students understand consumer protection basics – including financial literacy – in plain and simple language at Consumer.gov in English and Consumidor.gov in Spanish. This free educational website from the Federal Trade Commission can help students learn how to avoid scams, manage their money, use credit and loans carefully, and protect their personal information.

Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission

The site is easy to use, easy to navigate, and accessible to people with different learning preferences and literacy levels. Educators can access free articles, videos, and worksheets about managing money, – including making a budget; credit, loans, and debt, how to get and fix credit; and avoiding scams and identity theft. Other tools include presentations, and lesson plans (arriving Spring 2016). You can also hear content read aloud; just click the “listen” button next to each article in either English or Spanish.

It’s easy — and free — to use and share Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov information. Everything is in the public domain and there are no copyright limits. Users can download copies to hand out, link to a page or copy text into a newsletter.

Request printed copies of the Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov materials as a sample pack, including all topics in English and Spanish, or in tear-off pads of 50 for each topic. Students can refer to these one-page flyers when making financial decisions, or complete the Making a Budget worksheet to make their own monthly budget. Copies may be ordered from ftc.gov/bulkorder (unlimited quantities) and the FTC will ship them for free.

Both Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov are featured resources in the LINCS Learner Center, which connects adult learners to freely availalbe learning sites.

Improving Reentry Outcomes Through Social Innovation

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency focused on improving lives, strengthening communities, and fostering civic engagement through service and volunteering, recently announced the recipients of their Social Innovation Fund. OCTAE is pleased that one of the Improved Reentry Education program grantees, UTEC, Inc., has been selected as a subgrantee of the Social Innovation Fund program in two specific portfolio areas.

UTEC has an opportunity to partner with two national organizations that are Social Innovation Fund intermediaries.  REDF specifically invests in mission-driven businesses that hire and assist people willing and able to work, but who face multiple barriers to employment.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) initiative aims to increase educational and employment opportunities for youth ages 14 to 25 who are involved in the justice system or have other significant barriers to success.  This work closely aligns with the existing Improved Reentry Education program, which seeks to demonstrate that high-quality, appropriately designed, integrated, and well-implemented educational and related services—provided in institutional and community settings—are critical in supporting educational attainment and reentry success for previously incarcerated individuals.

This work also aligns with broader federal priorities for criminal justice reform. The Obama Administration has consistently taken steps to make the criminal justice system fairer and more effective and to address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.  This includes a series of concrete actions to reduce the challenges and barriers that the formerly incarcerated confront, including through the work of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, a cabinet-level working group to support the federal government’s efforts to promote public safety and economic opportunity through purposeful cross-agency coordination and collaboration.

This post is created by Guest Blogger, Sean Addie, Director of Correctional Education in OCTAE. Photo of Sean Addie

LINCS PD Center: A New Model

LINCS logo: states Literacy Information and Communication System

LINCS logo

OCTAE is procuring services to establish a professional development center, the LINCS Professional Development (PD) Center. This Center will encompass and replace the four regional professional development centers that have been funded as cooperative agreements since they came to OCTAE from the National Institute for Literacy in 2010. At a webinar for prospective vendors and partners held on March 16, OCTAE shared the new model and its grounding in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, PL 113-128) changes to requirements for state and national leadership activities.

The LINCS PD Center will assist states to leverage the many resources and capabilities in the LINCS system to meet two WIOA requirements for state leadership activities:

(1)“The establishment or operation of high quality professional development programs to improve…instruction.” (Sec 223 (a)1(B))

(2)“The provision of technical assistance to eligible providers of adult education and literacy activities receiving funds under this title, including—

  • the development and dissemination of instructional and programmatic practices based on the most rigorous or scientifically valid research available and appropriate, in reading, writing, speaking, mathematics, English language acquisition programs, distance education, and staff training;
  • the role of eligible providers as a one-stop partner to provide access to employment, education, and training services; and
  • assistance in the use of technology, including for staff training, to eligible providers, especially the use of technology to improve system efficiencies.” (Sec 223 (a)1(C))

The current LINCS system has a wealth of resources that can help States meet their requirements, including:

  • Online courses
  • Online Community of Practice platform
  • In-person training packages
  • Talent pool
  • Tools and resources

Technical assistance provided by the LINCS PD Center will support states in the establishment or operation of their own state-based program, or the establishment of a regional consortium to establish such a program; make available existing and developed LINCS high-quality PD resources and experiences that serve to disseminate information on evidence-based instruction and programming; and support adult education programs and instructors to be effective partners in the public workforce system.

Because state agencies have various models for PD systems already in place and to varying degrees of central coordination, the LINCS PD Center will establish a tiered menu of services to meet the varied needs and to allow for and support localization of the offerings. This menu will provide tiers and options of services to assist with PD program establishment or operation and with dissemination of LINCS’ PD resources and learning experiences.

The new Center will be awarded in August, 2016. The regional professional development center grants will conclude September 30, 2016. Questions about the procurement process may be addressed to Pamela.Bone@ed.gov.

For more information on WIOA, see OCTAE’s resource page.