Collaborating to Close Gender Gap

This past summer the White House hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit announcing efforts taken under the Obama administration to ensure that all women and girls have equal rights, treatment, and protections. The goal of the summit was to build a roadmap for future policymakers, stakeholders and advocates to continue to increase opportunities for women and girls.

Left to right: Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin and Carol Aguirre

Left to right: Harvard Students Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, with HNMCP Clinical Instructor, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin, and Carol Aguirre

One of the many initiatives announced at the summit was the collaboration between the U.S. the Department of Education’s (ED), Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) to develop a salary negotiation toolkit for community college students as part of the Administration’s efforts to advance equal pay policies. This toolkit provides community college students, including young women, with the knowledge and tools that can help them better prepare to negotiate their first salary. As we know, negotiating your salary early in your career can boost your lifetime earnings.

Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the gap is even wider for women of color. In 2014, the Shriver Report released A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, where they report that black women make only 60 cents, while Latinas make 55 cents, for every dollar that a white man earns.

Three possible explanations for a difference in pay between women and men are unintentional gender-based discrimination, a difference in the way women and men approach salary negotiations, and overt sexism. While many individuals experience difficulties negotiating job terms or an increase in pay, women experience additional challenges when negotiating pay and other job benefits.

Over the last eight years new efforts and initiatives were set in place to better address the gender gap pay, encouraging men and women to demand equality and fairness in the workplace. However, very few salary negotiation resources, if any, exist specifically for community colleges students. This is why OCTAE partnered with HNMCP to create the Salary Negotiation Toolkit. The toolkit was created by Jyoti Jasrasaria and Daniel Parino under consultation with OCTAE and the Women’s Bureau, as part of their second year law program at Harvard Law School. The Toolkit is now available for free on HNMCP’s website.

While much has changed, there remains much to be done. Help bridge the gender gap by practicing and implementing negotiating skills, sharing resources, like the Toolkit, and most importantly, know your worth in the workplace.

Posted by
Management and Program Analyst, Direct Loans Division, Federal Student Aid on detail with OCTAE as a Community Colleges Specialist.

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.

Embedding a Continuum of Work-Based Learning Opportunities in Our High Schools

photo of Johan Uvin

Posted by
Johan E. Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to join the Second Annual White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools. Leading practitioners and researchers came together to discuss how to rethink the high school experience. The event built on the progress made at last year’s summit, which generated $375 million in private and public sector commitments. After researchers shared their findings on what works, and district leaders and students talked about their Next Gen High Schools, participants engaged in action planning sessions focused on key strategies and elements of these innovative schools. I participated in a team that focused on personalized, project-based and maker learning. We talked about internships as an essential element of any future high school experience we envision for our youth and came up with specific actions we agreed to take to make more internships available to our high school students. At the end of our session, we were asked to make a commitment. I pledged to conduct research on promising practices and identify a few examples of internship programs that illustrate clearly what we want. Our team completed its initial research. I am happy to share two great examples with you through this blog.

One great example of a Next Generation High School that makes internships a focal point of the student experience is the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at Apex High School in Wake County, North Carolina, a small school-within-a-school program that attracts students who have an interest in information technology. AOIT is organized around two pathways: programming and web development. Not all students who opt to enroll in AOIT are interested in future careers in computer programming or technology. One student who attended in the past year is interested in being an elementary school teacher and has been learning how to develop “apps” that could be used in the classroom. Another student intends to work in human services, such as at a domestic violence program, and has completed an internship in a medical facility learning how to create digital patient records.

All AOIT students are required to complete a paid 135-hour internship prior to their senior year. Most complete their internships in the summer between the junior and senior year of school at a variety of businesses in the Research Triangle such as SAS Institute, Verizon, EMC Corporation, and the Town of Cary, NC Information Technology Department. At least half of the hands-on experience must be technology-based. AOIT internships are different from a typical summer job because students are required to participate in variety of activities that help link what they learned in the classroom to what they experience at the work site. To help connect their internship to their academic learning, student interns are asked to create a Linked-in presence and contribute to an AOIT blog in which they share information about their internship experiences. A supervisor at the job site does an evaluation of the student. AOIT staff visit the workplace to review and discuss learning objectives with the student and the supervisor. When the students have completed their internships, they also are required to do a presentation about their internship experience at a special evening event.

Most AOIT students go on to postsecondary education. Many students credit their internship experiences with helping them understand critical elements of what they want to do in the future. On one hand, they might learn more about the possible requirements and challenges of their chosen field; on the other hand, they might discover that there is not a good match between what is required on the job and how they envision their future workselves – a potential computer programmer might learn that they would rather be part of a team rather than working alone on a problem. Their internship experiences help them to learn what they like, as well as what they do not like. Knowing this can help them make better postsecondary decisions.

Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Connecticut is implementing internships at scale—paid internships are being implemented district-wide. Students who want a more focused education, different from a traditional comprehensive high school experience, can choose from among five career academies: the Journalism and Media Academy; Hartford High, Inc.; Pathways Academy of Technology; the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School; and the Nursing Academy at Hartford Public High School. In coordination with the Capitol Workforce Partners, the local workforce development board, Hartford Public Schools places academy students in paid internships that are aligned with their academy theme. Some of these internships begin in the summer between their junior and senior year. Most of the internships continue in their senior year. Interns are placed in a variety of local businesses, community organizations, and non-profit organizations. For example, some Journalism and Media Academy students complete internships at the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, while students in the Engineering and Green Technology Academy have opportunities to work at Northeastern Utilities.

These internship models show how we can meaningfully connect academic learning with the workplace. But, internships are not the only work-based learning opportunities we can consider. There are many work-based learning activities along the continuum of career awareness and exploration, career preparation, and career training and application that we can consider leading up to paid internships including: guest speakers, tours of workplaces, job and career fairs, shadowing/observation and mock interview opportunities, project-based learning based on real workplace problems, community service learning, mentoring programs, just to name a few. Trailblazing Next Gen High School leaders put these activities in a sequence of opportunities that allow students to deepen their understanding of the world of work over time. When students have the opportunity to combine these practical work-related experiences with classroom instruction, they are better able to see the relevance of their education. Our goal should be to make these opportunities available to every student, preferably as part of a well-coordinated, increasingly hands-on sequence of learning experiences.

Six Federal Agencies Commit to Make College Access and Completion a Reality for More Americans

Today, Secretary of Education John King announced the release of a federal interagency letter, Aligning Federal Supports and Program Delivery for College Access and Completion. The interagency letter highlights the latest guidance and resources that clarify how existing provisions within federal programs of the U.S. Departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Treasury can be better aligned for postsecondary access and completion. Secretary King made the announcement at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ annual meeting in Austin, Texas, an event that gathered over 1,300 senior leaders from public higher institutions from across North America.

By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require some postsecondary education or training. Studies have shown that college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn about 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma and are far less likely to face unemployment. Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without any postsecondary education. However, too many students fail to complete their education due to resource constraints. Because now, more than ever before, a college degree is a necessity for individual economic opportunity and competitiveness, alignment of federal programs and policies towards completion is essential. The strength and long-term success of our nation’s economy weighs on a robust higher education system that helps all students succeed.

The interagency letter lists actions taken by each of the six agencies to better help individuals make one the most important investments one can make in his or her future a reality. For example, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued guidance clarifying requirements that designated public school district homeless liaisons inform all unaccompanied homeless youth identified by the district of their eligibility for independent student status on the FAFSA, and this guidance is linked within the letter. Independent status can help homeless students access more aid to cover tuition and books, as well as help secure reliable room and board. Another example is guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicating that students attending an institution of higher education through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Employment and Training program at least half-time are exempt from the SNAP student rule and, as a result, potentially eligible for SNAP.

In addition to the joint interagency letter, the U.S. Department of Education released the Innovating and Partnering to Support Completion and Success in Higher Education fact sheet spotlighting the results of initiatives made under the Obama Administration that have helped thousands of Americans enroll in and complete college. Such investments have helped Black and Hispanic students earn over 270,000 more undergraduate degrees in 2013-14 than in 2008-09; and a million more Black and Hispanic students enrolled in college in 2014 than in 2008.

The Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, along with its federal partners, is committed to ensuring that federal provisions and other initiatives fulfill their promise of breaking down barriers to accessing the knowledge and skills needed to attain a well-paying job, support a family, and contribute to our community. With the help of state and local partners, together we can strengthen coordination of programs that connect more people to postsecondary opportunities and leverage federal policies that more effectively serve our communities.

Posted by
Special Assistant Office of the Assistant Secretary OCTAE

Tune in Tomorrow to the EdSim Challenge Webinar

Remember to register for the informational webinar!

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comThe EdSim Challenge is moving forward after a fantastic launch and we are excited to host an informational webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16th from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern Time. The webinar will include an overview of the EdSim Challenge and a live Question and Answer session. Join the webinar to learn more about the vision of the U.S. Department of Education for educational simulations, as well as the Challenge timeline, submission process, eligibility, awards, and criteria.

Please register here to receive connection and login information in advance of the session. For those unable to attend the webinar, a recording of the webinar will be posted later on the Challenge blog.

We look forward to a sharing information on the EdSim Challenge and expanding virtual and augmented reality in education!

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: 

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Student Voices Kick Off Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2016

“I wasn’t just signed up for a course, I was asked “What pathway do you want to go on?”  I was given options and I didn’t know I had those options, and it opened up another whole door of opportunity for me. Since then I’ve transitioned from the workforce development program…to the community college…and now I’m at the 4-year campus. ..I didn’t know I had those options until someone asked me, “What’s your purpose?” Asking the right questions is how I’m here and thriving in an environment that’s very competitive.”

“Someone came by my [auto repair] garage and asked me about going back to school. I said I have a job, I don’t have time for education, I’m looking for a career path. But she left me the information anyway…This program has done so much for me. I now have a career, I can provide for my family, and…this program has opened my eyes.”

“Academy of Hope has given me the confidence that I need to go on and further my education and to get that certification so that I can go out and help other people.”

These stories of hope, struggle, and inspiration came from a panel of former and current students addressing the annual adult education meeting for state directors and staff.  Their experiences captivated the audience and reinforced the importance of these programs.

These adult students attend or completed a range of programs, including Academy of Hope, a public adult charter school in DC; the University of DC; and a career pathway program partnership with Alexandria, VA Public Schools and VA Dominion Power. The students shared their stories of challenges to get started on an educational path that supported their needs, and their strategies for completing their programs and setting new, higher goals.

During Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and every week, we salute all the youth and adults who are working on their education and thank their teachers and program staff. We are proud of our contribution in ensuring these programs are offered in communities around the country.

Learn more about Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and follow along on social media at #AEFL.

Hearing the Student Voice – Why Work-Based Learning Matters

Dequan Wilkins poses with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Johan Uvin and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins poses with OCTAE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Johan Uvin, and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins, graduate of Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, provided opening remarks for the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Work-Based Learning in Education and Transition to Careers Workshop, co-hosted with the Organisation for Co-operative Economic Development (OECD) in Baltimore, Maryland, from July 26-27, 2016.  As a child and young adult growing up in Baltimore’s foster care system, Dequan recounted his “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to obtain an internship at the Episcopal Community Services of Maryland (ECSM) Culinary Arts program and how this work-based learning experience transformed his pathway from school to work.  He connected with a workplace mentor, learned the requisite technical and employability skills, obtained an industry-recognized certification (ServSafe), and was ultimately hired as a Sous Chef.  Dequan is passionate about culinary arts and is looking forward to creating his own bakery.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by Director John Ladd, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by John Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Three other students—Maalik Groves and Shanelle Lockhart from the Urban Technology Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chloe Starcher, an apprentice at Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) 24 in Baltimore, Maryland—provided similar stories of how work-based learning, as part of their career and technical education programs, enabled them to connect their academic and technical learning and test out their career interests in real life work settings.  Each told of the importance of a caring adult who mentored them, guided them, and helped them master critical employability skills that would help them navigate and excel in the world of work.

These student stories set a perfect context for the two-day meeting that featured international policies and practices for developing and scaling up work-based learning opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.  The full agenda, discussion papers, and speaker bios are available for review at sites.ed.gov/OCTAE/WBL2016.  A U.S. report on work-based learning will be available early Winter 2016 and an international report on work-based learning will be available in 2017.  Stay tuned to the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network (PCRN) at cte.ed.gov for these reports.

Posted by
Robin A. Utz, Branch Chief College and Career Transitions, Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE)
Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education

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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