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.

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.

Work-Based Learning: A Promising Strategy for Re-engaging Opportunity Youth

For nearly a decade, the U. S. has partnered with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to conduct reviews of various issues pertaining to career and technical education (CTE). Our efforts with OECD have enabled us to benchmark ourselves against other countries, as well as learn about international policies and practices that we might consider to improve the educational and employment outcomes for our nation’s youth and adults.

Building on our prior work, in July 2015, we again partnered with OECD—this time, on the topic of work-based learning. We were interested in this topic because we acknowledge the importance and promise of work-based learning as a way to re-engage youth, equip them with the skills that are in demand in the labor market, and connect them to potential employers.

The benefits of work-based learning are particularly important for at-risk youth as these individuals are most likely to face difficulties in connecting to the labor market and accessing good learning opportunities. At-risk youth are defined as young people who are not—or are at risk of not—working or being in school. In the U. S., there are roughly 5.5 million teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. This translates to one in seven teens and young adults. In OECD countries, there are around 40 million at risk youth. These numbers, while incredibly discouraging, present a tremendous opportunity for retooling our nation’s CTE programs and scaling up promising practices such as work-based learning to address the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable students.

OECD’s work-based learning project was designed for three purposes:

  1. Synthesize the evidence on how the benefits of work-based learning might be more fully exploited to achieve better economic and social outcomes;
  2. Document global experience of developments and innovations in policy and practice; and
  3. Deliver key policy messages on those foundations.

Eight other countries participated in the study—Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom.

On December 7, 2016, the OECD reported the results of their U. S. review, as documented in Work-Based Learning for Youth at Risk: Getting Employers on Board. The report identifies a number of policy recommendations including encouraging and offering financial resources for pre-apprenticeships; providing remediation, mentoring, and coaching to support apprentices complete their training; and offering targeted training for apprenticeship supervisors to help them succeed. The full report can be found in the OECD iLibrary.

To further help employers work with youth, the Department released Employability Skills Fact Sheet and Resources: Supporting Opportunity Youth to Be Successful in Their First Job. This fact sheet outlines five easy steps that employers can take to help youth gain employability skills that employers are looking for and that are necessary for youth to be successful in the labor market at all levels and in all sectors. The Fact Sheet is available on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education

Learning More About English Learner Youth

This post joins an ongoing series, examining trends in needs and services for disconnected youth. (See the first post, 5 Million Reasons to Care About Youth.) This post welcomes Libia Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), as a co-author, with Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary of OCTAE.

OCTAE and OELA have teamed up to learn more about the demographic characteristics, educational attainment, and employment status of older adolescent and young adult English learners (ELs), ages 14 – 21. Many of these learners are unable to complete high school within the traditional time frame and may enroll in adult education programs to earn a high school credential, improve their English language skills, and acquire job skills.
25-million-els-nationwide

This Executive Summary and Infographic, Older Adolescent and Young Adult English Learners: A Study of Demographics, Policies, and Programs,summarizes an extensive analysis of the relevant data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) data.

Key findings about older adolescents and young adult ELs, compared to their non-EL peers, summarized on the infographic include:

  • ELs are more likely to not complete high school, especially in the older 19-21 year old cohort with 22% of ELs vs. 6% of non-ELs without a high school credential;
  • ELs are less likely to be enrolled in formal education, especially in the older 19-21 year old cohort with 44% of ELs vs. 60% non-ELs enrolled; and
  • For those not enrolled, ELs are more likely to be employed.

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Improved Reentry Education Grantee Recognized as a Model Program

On any given day, more than 60,000 young people under age 21 are confined in juvenile justice facilities throughout the United States.[1]

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recently released a multi-jurisdiction scan, identifying programs which address the developmental needs of young adults in the criminal justice system. NIJ  is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Their mission is to advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to enhance the administration of justice and public safety.

OCTAE is pleased that one of the Improved Reentry Education grantees, UTEC, was highlighted as an organization which took an innovative approach to address these developmental needs of youth. NIJ describes the UTEC program as one that “has responded to a need in the community and the population served by developing in-house social enterprises in order to offer its participants a paid work experience in a supportive setting”. As part of their approach, UTEC conducts pre-release visits to individuals in correctional and juvenile justice facilities and also uses street outreach and gang peacemaking to connect with individuals. As youth progress through the program, they are paired with case management with a focus towards social enterprises and a resumption of education in the community.

Photo of Sean Addie

Sean Addie, Director of Correctional Education, OCTAE

Guest Blogger, Sean Addie, Director of Correctional Education, OCTAE

[1] National Report Series Bulletin (Aug. 2014). Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2011. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Performance Partnership Pilot Applications Invited

Federal agencies have released a third call for proposals to improve education, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth.

While our nation has seen progress over the last few years, there still remain over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. who are out of school and not working. In many cases, these youth face additional challenges including being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. In response, seven federal agencies are, for the third time, jointly inviting state, local, and tribal communities to apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieving better outcomes for these youth, as well as youth at risk of becoming disconnected from critical social institutions and supports.

The P3 initiative allows pilots to receive customized flexibility from the participating agencies—including the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and now also the Department of Housing and Urban Development—to overcome barriers and align program and reporting requirements across programs. This flexibility enables communities to pursue the most innovative and effective ways to use their existing funds that they already receive from the federal government to improve outcomes for the neediest youth.

This third round of pilots will build on innovative work underway by existing pilots. In October 2015, the Department of Education announced the first round of nine pilots on behalf of all the participating agencies. From supporting young moms and their young children with a two-generation approach to helping foster care youth transition successfully from high school to college and career, these pilots will serve a total of roughly 10,000 disconnected youth from urban, rural, and tribal communities around the country. Applications for the second round of pilots closed on June 27, 2016, and agencies expect to designate pilots by the end of the year.

Early pilots are seeing the value of the P3 model. “It takes more than a single agency or funding source to help young people in tough situations get back on track,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The Performance Partnership Pilot gives L.A. the flexibility to break down boundaries and test new ideas for putting kids on a path to success.”

This third round of pilots again offers up to 10 state, local or tribal communities the opportunity to propose bold new ideas for how they would use P3 flexibility to transform the way they deliver services and improve outcomes for their disconnected youth. Additionally, this round will newly permit communities to use their Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grants Program funds, funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the pilots.

Stakeholders on the front lines of service delivery have let us know that flexibility, such as better aligning the multiple systems that serve youth, is sometimes needed to achieve powerful outcomes. P3 responds directly to on-the-ground challenges by offering broad new flexibility in exchange for better outcomes. While this competition offers small start-up grants that can fund administrative expenses, data collection, evaluation or other activities that support effective implementation of a pilot, P3 primarily focuses on creating flexibility. Partner organizations already working together on the ground can propose true seamless service delivery systems that maximize outcomes for disconnected youth by seeking waivers across multiple funding streams that they already receive.

This round of P3 includes several priorities to test this authority in diverse environments across America and support broader learning in the field. For example, acknowledging the diverse needs of communities, the competition allows separate categories of consideration for applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in rural communities, in tribal communities, or in communities that recently have experienced civil unrest. In addition, applicants can earn bonus points in the selection process by proposing to rigorously evaluate at least one component of their pilot, proposing to implement work-based learning opportunities, or proposing projects that would specifically serve youth who are neither employed nor in school.

You can find more information about the third round of P3 application requirements and selection criteria in the Federal Register Notice Inviting Applications (NIA).

Photo of Johan Uvin
Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE

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

The Promise of – and Need for – Pay for Success

New funding announcement released: Providing High-Quality Career and Technical Education Programs for Underserved, High-Need Youth Through a Pay for Success Model

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education allocates roughly $1.8 billion in funding to States and outlying areas for strategic investments in career, technical and adult education at local education agencies, community colleges, correctional institutions, libraries, housing authorities, and community-based, faith-based and other non-profit organizations. Together, States and outlying areas match federal adult education resources with State and local investments totaling between $1 and $1.5 billion annually. And, the State match for career and technical education is $116 million per year with additional State and local resources estimated to be eight to ten times the federal investment.

We have made significant improvements in the collection of performance data related to these investments over the last decade, but unfortunately we have limited evidence-based feedback at the national level on these investments. Given statutory performance accountability requirements, we have aggregate data from States and outlying areas on the number of people who participated in career, technical and adult education and their overall outcomes during a given reporting period. However, there are some significant limitations to these data that lead us to a troubling spot: we too often just don’t know if participation in our programs brought about positive outcomes. Furthermore, we don’t know what would have happened to these participants had they not participated. 

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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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Performance Partnership Pilots: An Opportunity to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth

Federal agencies have released a second call for bold proposals to improve education, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth.

Over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are out of school and not working. In many cases, they face the additional challenges including being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. In response, seven federal agencies are jointly inviting state, local, and tribal communities to apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieving better outcomes for these youth, as well as youth at risk of becoming disconnected from critical social institutions and supports.

The P3 initiative allows pilots to receive customized flexibility from the participating agencies—including the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and now also the U.S. Department of Justice—to overcome barriers and align program and reporting requirements across programs. This flexibility enables communities to pursue the most innovative and effective ways to use their existing funds to improve outcomes for the neediest youth.

In October 2015, the Department of Education announced the first round of nine pilots on behalf of all the participating agencies. From supporting youth moms and their young children with a two-generation approach to helping foster care youth transition successfully from high school to college and career, these pilots will serve a total of roughly 10,000 disconnected youth. For example, the City of Indianapolis will be providing comprehensive, concentrated, and coordinated services to low-income, disconnected youth ages 14 through 24 who reside within two public housing communities that are located in the city’s Opportunity Zone, a collective impact initiative modeled on the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, MN. The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, a local workforce development board, is also implementing a collective impact model to improve outcomes for youth. It will be working with Partners for Education at Berea College, and the Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone to provide services and activities to address the needs of 1,000 disconnected youth in the rural Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone.

This second round of pilots offers up to 10 communities the opportunity to propose bold new ideas for how they would use P3 flexibility to transform the way they deliver services and improve outcomes for their disconnected youth.

Stakeholders on the front lines of service delivery have let us know that flexibility, such as better aligning the multiple systems that serve youth, is sometimes needed to achieve powerful outcomes. P3 responds directly to these challenges by offering broad new flexibility in exchange for better outcomes.

This round of P3 includes several priorities to test this authority in diverse environments across America and support broader learning in the field. For example, acknowledging the diverse needs of communities, the competition allows separate categories of consideration for applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in rural communities, in tribal communities, or in communities that recently have experienced civil unrest. In addition, applicants can earn bonus points in the selection process by proposing to rigorously evaluate at least one component of their pilot, proposing to implement work-based learning opportunities, or proposing projects that would specifically serve youth who are neither employed nor in school.

A competition for a third round of up to 10 pilots is expected to be released in the summer of 2016. This will provide another opportunity for communities that need more time to collaborate and prepare their best proposals. Additionally, this third competition round will permit communities to use their Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grants Program funds, funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the pilots.

To hear representatives from Federal agencies present the details of the recently released Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) on P3, including application requirements and selection criteria, please register and join us for the P3 National Webinar on May 9th at 1PM ET. Registration information is available at www.youth.gov/P3.