Mapping Upward Technical Assistance Institute

Mapping Upward Logo with an arrow made of dots

The Mapping Upward project, a national activity led by OCTAE’s Division of Academic and Technical Education, selected four sector-focused networks representing twelve colleges to receive technical assistance to support the embedding of stackable, industry-recognized credentials within technical associate degree programs. The four college networks selected to participate in the project include:

  • Bakersfield College, Shasta College, and Reedley College (California, Horticulture focus)
  • Forsyth Technical Community College, Catawba Valley Community College, Isothermal Community College, and Piedmont Community College (North Carolina, Advanced Manufacturing focus)
  • Luzerne County Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, and Northampton Community College (Pennsylvania, Advanced Manufacturing focus)
  • Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Mitchell Community College (North Carolina, Advanced Manufacturing focus)

Thirty-one individuals representing the college teams participated in the Mapping Upward Technical Assistance Institute, July 21-22 at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha/Racine, Wisconsin. The teams were immersed in sessions with content experts on topics ranging from employer engagement strategies and program design to credit issues and work-based learning experiences. Teams also met in small groups to work on action plans that will be the focus of their technical assistance activities for the next year. College teams will tackle institutional issues as well as collaborate with their in-state partners on the broader goals of their network. All twelve colleges are engaged in an online community of practice for resource sharing and exchange of promising practices. Each network is receiving dedicated technical assistance from a coach as well as support from subject matter experts on targeted topics.

For more information on the project, please visit the Mapping Upward: Stackable Credentials that Lead to Careers page on PCRN or email Erin Berg, erin.berg@ed.gov.

Supporting Student Success: Discussions about Adult Education and Developmental Education Reform in Community Colleges

Earning a postsecondary degree or credential has become a prerequisite for the growing jobs of the new economy.  President Obama has challenged every American to commit to at least one year of higher education or postsecondary training to better prepare themselves for the challenges they will face in the ever-evolving workforce.  OCTAE is committed to supporting community college students and, in turn, strengthening the coordination and alignment between adult education and developmental education programs at community college campuses to better prepare students for the 21st century job market.  The Supporting Student Success: Adult Education and Remedial Education Reform in Community Colleges initiative is a technical assistance activity, funded by OCTAE to support the President and the Department’s goals.

As part of Supporting Student Success, OCTAE, through the support of the Manhattan Strategy Group is hosting three Community of Practice (CoP) discussions this fall.  The CoPs will be hosted on the LINCS online platform.  To comment in the discussions, free membership to LINCS is required, but no membership is necessary to read the discussion. Make sure you are subscribed to Postsecondary Completion LINCS Community of Practice group for more information. Learn more about LINCS here. We highly encourage you to join the CoPs by signing up prior to the start of the discussion.

Get involved! The CoP discussion of best practices listed below will be led by current practitioners of adult education and developmental education programming.

  • Building Bridges Between Adult Basic Education and Developmental Education: October 17-21, 2016
    • This discussion is designed to present strategies and models for collaboration and communication between Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Developmental Education (Dev Ed) programs based on work being done at Amarillo (TX) College and Gateway (CT) Community College.
  • Intensive Skill and College Readiness Programs at Community Colleges: November 7-11, 2016
    • This discussion will lead with the presentation of two programs, St. Louis (MO) Community College’s Academic Academy and Gateway Community College’s Academic Bootcamp. They will provide information about their opportunities surrounding skill development, college and work readiness competency development, and career guidance.
  • Re-Visioning Student Instruction and Support: December 1-8, 2016
    • This discussion is designed to present national programming which incorporates intensive support services. Individuals from St. Louis Community College and Amarillo College will begin by sharing some of their practices which include, but is not limited to: face-to-face advising, online media instruction, and community based supports integrated into training.Erin Berg

Guest blogger: Erin Berg, OCTAE Community College Program Specialist

Equity in Apprenticeship Request for Proposals Announced

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced the Equity in Apprenticeship Request for Proposals (RFP) to increase apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented populations.  This RFP seeks to award multiple contracts to national intermediaries to develop national or regional “Opportunity” partnerships.  These “Opportunity” partnerships will work to increase gender, racial, ethnic and other demographic diversity and inclusion in apprenticeships.

Links to the announcement and the DOL news release on this effort are below:

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Work-based Learning: We Need An Ecosystem

OCTAE is pleased to host this blog post by guest blogger: David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation

David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation, speaking at a podium with American flag in background

David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation

It was an honor to take part in yesterday’s workshop on “Strengthening Work-Based Learning in Education and Transition to Career.”  For the Siemens Foundation, this is an extremely important topic, and one that we’ve recently chosen to focus on as part of our STEM Middle-Skill Initiative program.

For students, work-based learning is an underutilized method that holds the promise of opportunity and is ripe for growth.  It can help students develop essential employability skills and build a strong, positive work history.  It can also help them build an important network of peers and employers that often connect the dots between job seeker and the right position.

Companies win, too.  They have the opportunity to shape the next generation of skilled workers from an early stage and engage directly with the local education system in a meaningful way.  These experiences can also help build a positive culture in the workplace as current workers see their employer’s commitment to training and giving back to the community.

As a German company, Siemens’ roots run deep in apprenticeships, and the company has thrived from its access to the strong, skilled pipeline of workers that come from these work-based learning programs in Germany.

In the U.S., Siemens has worked to develop apprenticeships, but it’s an effort that needs a much more broad-based approach if the U.S. is going to successfully scale the model.   Like so many other efforts worth the outcome, work-based learning can require a lot of time, commitment and resources.

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Call to Action: Make Disability Visible in Everything We Do

Today, July 26, is the anniversary of the signing in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recognition of the spirit of the Act, we are pleased to recommit to the important work of making our programs inclusive and accessible to all.

Disability is part of the human experience, and one of the variables that contribute to the rich diversity of our nation.  Disability is not a static condition—people can experience a disability from birth, or develop a disability as a result of genetics, aging, or trauma.  Disability does not discriminate—anyone can acquire a disability, at any time.  Individuals with disabilities are neighbors, teachers, community leaders, and parents. They are workers, managers, corporate CEOs, and healthcare providers. Individuals with disabilities can and do participate in all realms of work, and their strong participation is vital to our economic growth.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2014, the resident population in the United States was estimated to be approximately 319.9 million individuals; and of this, approximately 31.9 million individuals have some kind of disability, including both apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Yet individuals with disabilities still face barriers to full, family-sustaining employment.

On June 21, 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics. The data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.  Based on this report, in 2015, 17.5 percent of persons with a disability were employed. The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7 percent in 2015, compared to 5.1 percent for those without a disability. Some key findings (and where to find them in the report) include:

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Summer: A Great Time to Talk about College

As we approach the end of summer, it is important to reflect on ways that we can all support students and families preparing to attend college next year. For the first time this fall, students are able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning on October 1st. This earlier date allows students to explore further financial aid options before most college’s deadlines. As a result, students will have more college options than in the past.

On average there are 482 high school students for every college counselor, each looking for their own set of advice in regards to the college application process. In addition to those students who have overworked counselors there are many youth and adults who are deciding to return to school and who lack access to free college counseling. For these reasons, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of Education redesigned the College Scorecard to provide the clearest, most accessible, and most reliable national data on college cost, graduation, debt, and post-college earnings. This tool was improved with feedback from students, families, and counselors to help ensure that families and future postsecondary students make the most informed decisions when choosing a college.

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Minority-Serving Community Colleges Virtual Convening

Increasing cooperation among community colleges that serve a large minority population or populations is widely viewed among community college faculty and leaders and policymakers as an integral element in ensuring that these institutions improve their capacities to serve their varied student populations.  In furtherance of this collaborative effort, OCTAE, on Thursday, May 19, hosted an all-day virtual event to build upon the efforts begun during its Minority-Serving Community College convening at the Department of Education last fall. Approximately 70 individuals or groups joined to hear updates on a variety of topics and concerns for minority-serving community colleges.  Future content and events will be announced through the OCTAE newsletter, OCTAE Connection, the OCTAE Community Colleges website, as well as the Minority-Serving Community Colleges and Affiliates LINCS group, which can be joined here.

The first topical session was hosted by Amy Firestone of the U.S. Department of Labor on the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium.  Registered Apprenticeships and the College Consortium will be considered in more detail in a future issue of OCTAE Connection. The second presentation focused on White House initiatives that support each of the designated categories of minority-serving institutions.  Each of these initiatives undertakes activities designed to support their particular constituencies.  The third presentation by OCTAE Policy Analyst Kiawanta Hunter-Keiser focused on the Department’s initiatives to support equity in career and technical education, both internally and externally. The fourth session, hosted by Luke Wood and Marissa Vasquez Urias of San Diego State University, discussed the role of faculty in supporting men of color at community colleges with a special emphasis on the need for research, training, and assessment. Drs. Wood and Vasquez Urias invited convening attendees to join the National Consortium on College Men of Color and attend the June 9-10, 2016 working group meeting in San Diego, CA.  The topic of the final session was a presentation by some of the lead institutions for the Minority-Serving Community Colleges Communities of Practice initiative regarding a research conference for minority-serving institutions, an Asian American and Pacific Islander initiative, and on middle-college pathways.

Guest blogger: Erin Berg, OCTAE Community College Program SpecialistErin Berg

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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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

The President’s Upskill Initiative: 1 Year Later

See a summary at the White House blog of an event that spotlighted how employers nationwide have answered the President’s call to train frontline workers with the skills to earn higher-paying jobs.

Image shows 8 out of 10 low-skilled workers are parents

8 out of 10 low-skilled workers are parents

Supporting materials:

OCTAE fact sheet on the profile of lower-skilled working-age (16 to 65 years old) adults, their highest level of education attained, in which industries they are employed, and how much they are earning, on average, for the work they do. Data from the Survey for Adult Skills 2012/2014.

Information from the Department of Labor on how businesses can engage in the workforce system here.

To learn more about what outside groups and employers are doing to support upskilling, visit UpskillAmerica.org.