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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Top CTE Programs Recognized with National Award

Eleven CTE programs were selected for 2016 “Excellence in Action” awards by Advance CTE, a national association of state CTE directors. The awards are intended to highlight high quality Career Cluster-based programs of study that have a meaningful impact on student achievement and success. More information about the award program and its winners can be found on the Advance CTE website.

Congratulations to the eleven CTE programs receiving awards:

Tulare Join Union High School District Farm
Agriculture Education, California

Advanced Technologies Academy
Architectural Design, Nevada

Vista PEAK Preparatory
Business Education, Colorado

Peoria Unified School District
Early Childhood Education, Arizona

Hamburg High School
Academy of Finance, New York

Waubonsee Community College
Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic, Illinois

Des Moines Independent School District
Central Campus Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Academy, Iowa

Southwest High School
Computer Maintenance Technology & IT Certification Program, Texas

Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
Legal Studies, Texas

Desert View High School
Precision Machining and Mechanical Drafting, Arizona

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center
Manufacturing Technology Academy, Michigan

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

Guidance Released on Ability to Benefit Pell Eligibility

Federal Student Aid (FSA) office released guidance on Pell grant eligibility for students without a high school diploma (or its recognized equivalent) who are enrolled in career pathways. This Pell eligibility category, also known as Ability to Benefit,  was partially restored in December 2014 and through amendments passed in December of 2015.

FSA provides in the new guidance clarification of an eligible career pathway program and implementation information for the new provisions. The definition of career pathways in the guidance is aligned to that in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

See the statement posted by FSA, which links to the Dear Colleague Letter and Questions and Answers on implementation.

Career Pathways: A Common Commitment

Image of joint letter on Career Pathways signed by 12 agencies.

Download the joint letter on Career Pathways signed by 12 agencies.

See the joint blog post on ED’s Homeroom Blog that announces a new 12-agency joint letter in support of career pathways and a common definition.

This letter marks a major milestone in the federal effort to align policies and technical assistance to support career pathways approaches in every community.

Through shared definitions and goals for career pathway systems, the federal government is taking steps toward removing obstacles for state and local areas to streamline programs and services to make it easier for individuals, including those with significant disabilities, to navigate and succeed in attaining their career goals.

Seeking Colleges Interested in Stackable Credentials

Mapping Upward: Stackable Credentials That Lead to Careers

Technical Assistance will be available to community colleges under a new initiative launched by OCTAE. “Mapping Upward” will provide technical assistance to five networks of community and/or technical colleges as they work to embed stackable, industry-recognized credentials within technical associate degree programs.

A webinar is being held May 3 to provide more information on the project and its goals.

Each of the five networks of colleges will consist of two to four community colleges that will develop action plans specific to the workforce needs of their communities while benefiting from the sector-focused peer learning community of the network.

The five teams will be selected through an application process that closes on May 18. The selected teams will participate in an institute in July and will receive customized assistance from subject matter experts and a dedicated coach who will guide their network through needs assessments, goal setting, and action planning. Over a year, the colleges will gain insights into stackable credential design, employer engagement, the alignment of industry certifications, faculty collaboration, awarding of credit, and credit transfer agreements.

You can find more information on the project on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network along with a link to register for the webinar to be held on May 3.

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

Call to Participate in the Task Force on New Americans’ National Skills and Credential Institute

This blog is cross-posted from the White House site.

As President Obama recently reminded us, “We can never say it often or loudly enough: Immigrants and refugees revitalize and renew America.” Many immigrants and refugees arrive in the United States having already completed extensive education and job training, or with significant work experience abroad. However, all too often they face challenges to fully utilizing these skills. Yet as the White House Task Force on New Americans One-Year Progress Report highlighted, there are communities that are developing programs to help skilled immigrants return to their careers in their new home.

The Task Force is seeking to support communities that are focused on finding solutions to this challenge through its National Skills and Credential Institute. This peer-learning forum aims to connect a consortium of leaders from state and local workforce areas; adult and post-secondary education systems and institutions; representatives from departments of labor, licensing, and regulatory affairs; immigrant serving organizations; and external technical assistance providers. The goal of this institute is to help communities understand how policies and practices help or hinder credential attainment and recognition, and to assist in developing strategies for how the public, private and nonprofit sectors can strengthen career pathways for skilled immigrants.

The Task Force will host this exciting forum at the White House, in partnership with the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor on June 29, 2016. Communities are invited to submit a letter of interest by May 1, 2016.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity, click here.

Education: A Key Service in WIOA

Thanks to all who joined the webinar on March 1, we were thrilled to host over 600 participants. Below are the archives and resources shared during the webinar.

Infographics shared during the discussion:

Logo displays One Team; One Vision; One Conversation

Logo from 2016 WIOA National Convening

Find other resources from the WIOA National Convening, including PowerPoints, the participant list, etc., here.

Two excerpts from the transcripts highlight the rich discussion that took place during the webinar:

Serving Individuals with Barriers to Employment

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Online Discussion: Promoting Greater Hispanic Participation in the Labor Market and Career Pathways

Join LINCS for an online discussion February 22-26, during which a panel of experts will address the need to help Hispanics benefit from career pathways programs and transition into middle-skill careers. Using the report “Investing in the Skills Development of Hispanics,” the panel will look at key questions surrounding Hispanics in the workforce:

  1. Why are Hispanics under-represented among middle-skill occupations?
  2. What promising practices can adult education, in collaboration with business and industry, implement to significantly change the representation of targeted minority populations in high-demand, higher-wage jobs?
  3. How can Hispanics and other minority and diverse populations use career pathways as stepping stones to robust middle-skill careers?
  4. What resources and models are available to support the implementation of strong initiatives to encourage greater participation of Hispanics and similar minority populations in new or high-demand businesses and industries in the U.S.?

Discussion participants will learn about the Carreras en Salud partnership—a successful career pathways program for Hispanics in healthcare industries—and explore opportunities for expanding this model to other career training and supports.

The panel discussion kicks off February 22nd in the LINCS Diversity and Literacy & Career Pathways groups. Add your voice and experience! 

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Transforming the Lives of Adult Learners at Scale

Last week, I, along with regional representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke as part of a Fresh Federal Perspectives plenary session at the 2016 youth conference hosted by the California Workforce Association in Sacramento. Assemblymember Autumn Burke, a strong advocate for career and technical education, kicked off the session.

Students learning to climb utility poles in outside yard.

Beginning students learn how to safely climb poles. The program has a waiting list of several hundred students, many of whom will wait a year.

There were over 500 youth practitioners and policy makers in attendance. I stressed why partnerships are essential at all levels if we want all youth – not some youth – to have the opportunity to access a path into the middle class. Later in the day, I had the opportunity to meet briefly with the executive leadership of California’s Workforce Board to talk about California’s draft Unified Plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Then, I had the opportunity to hear from state administrators and local program leaders in a listening and consultation session at the California Department of Education. WIOA and state funding in California, called the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG), California’s WIOA State Plan, and other statewide initiatives were the key topics of discussion.

Students in Photovoltaics program working in a classroom.

Students in the Photovoltaics program that integrates math, technical and hands-on training learn how to install solar panels.

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