Insights assembled to connect young adults to employment

It is estimated that nearly 6.7 million young adults are out of school and out of work, and service providers are working hard to help these young adults secure employment. But little is known about what types of assistance help young adults access employment, what employment characteristics influence whether a job is a good fit for a young adult, and what opportunities service providers find and leverage in their work, both with employers and with young adult job seekers, to improve the odds that a young adult will succeed in work.

Connecting Young Adults to Employment, the latest report from the Workforce Strategies Initiative at the Aspen Institute, sheds some light on these questions. This report captures the insights of a variety of service providers helping young adults access employment and equipping them with the skills and connections needed to succeed in today’s labor market. The report documents the results of a survey in which close to 400 service providers, representing 340 organizations nationwide, described their experiences serving young adults. These providers offered valuable insights on:

  • What is considered a good employment outcome for their young adult clients;
  • Strategies for connecting young adults to good employment opportunities; and
  • Challenges in connecting young adult to good employment opportunities.

Connecting Young Adults to Employment also offers considerations for practitioners and policymakers seeking to assist the large and growing population of disadvantaged young adults pursuing meaningful connections to work in today’s labor market.

New national employer guidebook energizes work-based learning

walguidebookThe National Network of Business and Industry Associations released a guidebook for employers to understand and adopt work-and-learn programs, including modernized internships, apprenticeships and mentorships. Led by Business Roundtable and ACT Foundation, the National Network is a collaboration of 25 business organizations representing 10 economic sectors, and focuses on connecting the worlds of learning and work.

Work-and-Learn in Action: Successful Strategies for Employers highlights 15 real-life models, providing a blueprint to help companies implement similar strategies that improve workforce recruitment, training and advancement. [Read more…]

Getting a Head-start on WIOA: Missouri’s Statewide Launch Meeting for Sector Strategies

Our recent statewide launch event with leaders in the State of Missouri was a great kick-off to our deployment of sector strategies in the state, and an excellent jump-start for the upcoming implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  Article from Maher and Maher

Tucked away on the banks of the Lake of the Ozarks, about 130 professionals from the state’s workforce system and their partners from education, economic development, and workforce worked over two days to plan for advancing sector-based work in the ten economic regions of the state.

“I am always amazed to see folks from different silos come together around a common goal and witness them break down traditional walls in favor of creating new opportunities for the common customers we all have,” said Richard D. Maher, President & CEO of Maher & Maher. “With thinner budgets every year, our work is getting harder and more complex in a globally competitive world. The old ways of working are not going to get it done any longer, and the folks in Missouri clearly understand that. Although the goals of the session were to learn more about sector-strategies and plan to use sector-based approaches to guide the workforce system’s work, ultimately it is all about working collaboratively to help develop talent for high-yield sectors within regional economies – and that is really at the core of WIOA.”

Participants worked together in regional teams over the course of two days. The efforts started with an objective self-assessment around the Six Critical Success Factors that we’ve developed for world-class sector work, and continued with action planning around priorities for the development of sector strategies on a selected target sector. Skilled Maher & Maher facilitators were assigned to each regional team and will continue to work with regional and state leaders to advance each plan moving forward.

“We believe states need to take the lead on sectors as they consider how they are going to integrate around WIOA,” continued Maher. “Sector-based work requires collaborating, working regionally, and focusing on both job seekers and business. If you do sectors right, you’ll do WIOA right. States need to define regional economies and put policy in place, but the work and decisions happen regionally and locally – and that’s what our process is designed to foster and advance.”

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The Firm is currently involved in Sector-Strategy initiatives in multiple state and regional areas, as well as the contracted partner to USDOL-ETA for Sector Strategies and WIOA technical assistance. For more information about our services visit us at www.mahernet.com or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.

Learning While Earning is the New Normal

learningwhileearning-headgraphic-102815About 14 million college students are working, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center). For the past 25 years, more than 70 percent of college students have been taking time from their studies to earn a paycheck. Learning While Earning: The New Normal examines these students who combine work with ongoing learning.

“Today, almost every college student works, but you can’t work your way through college anymore,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and the report’s lead author. “Even if you work, you have to take out loans and take on debt.”

A student working full-time at the federal minimum wage would earn $15,080 annually, which would not cover tuition and living expenses at most colleges.

Working and learning can result in better education and stronger career prospects for students, especially when they work in jobs related to what they study. However, working too much can reduce completion rates for low-income and first-generation college students.

In addition, the report finds:

  • One-third of working learners are 30 or older. These mature working learners are enrolled primarily to upgrade their credentials and, compared to young people, are more concentrated in career fields like healthcare and business.
  • More people are working full-time while in college. About 40 percent of undergraduates and 76 percent of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week; 25 percent of all working learners are simultaneously employed full-time and enrolled in college full-time; and 19 percent of all working learners have children.

“We need much stronger connections between learning and work,” said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown Center and a co-author of the report. “When students pick a major or field of study, they need to be told up front what kind of career it likely leads to and how much money they are likely to make, especially if they have to pay back student loans.”

The Georgetown Center researchers identified several policy changes that would potentially help more of the nation’s 14 million working learners to succeed, including:

  • Funding postsecondary education based, in part, on performance measured by labor market outcomes;
  • Investing in competency-based education programs that teach skills with labor market value; and
  • Bolstering employer tuition-assistance programs to offset growing debt.

The full report for Learning While Earning: The New Normal is available online at cew.georgetown.edu/workinglearners.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between individual goals, education and training curricula, and career pathways. The Georgetown Center is affiliated with the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy. For more information, visit: cew.georgetown.edu. Follow us on Twitter @GeorgetownCEW and on Facebook.

Missouri welfare reforms take effect August 28th

Missouri ranks last in the nation for welfare reform policies and has the nation’s lowest work participation performance according to the Heartland Institute. Help is on the way thanks to new leadership at the Family Support Division empowered by Senate Bill 24.

According to Senator David Sater, SB24’s sponsor, this comprehensive reform emphasizes work while breaking down barriers to self-sufficiency. Right now, Missouri allows two years to go by before requiring the welfare population to work. The first thing SB24 does is require a recipient to engage in one of those work activities before even receiving welfare benefits. The bill also lowers the lifetime eligibility limit for the program. Missouri currently allows the maximum eligibility limit of five years on welfare while 12 other states limit lifetime eligibility to four years or less with our neighbors, Arkansas and Indiana, limiting benefits to two years.

SB 24 creates strict sanctions for recipients not complying with work requirements, Sater noted. Currently, Missouri only removes part of the benefit a welfare recipient gets until compliance with the work requirement occurs. Under the new law, those on welfare would have a limited amount of time to comply with the work requirement before a complete loss of benefits is imposed. More than half of the states have a similar policy and it is been an effective tool in getting people back to work. The bill also creates a cash diversion program that will act as a cash grant for short-term needs designed to keep potential welfare recipients, particularly those considered job ready, from ever entering the system.

Leadership from the Family Support Division recently authored a presentation on the implementation of welfare reform with key deliverables happening August 28, 2015 and January 1, 2016. The team includes Julie Gibson and Jeriane Jaegers, both previously with the Division of Workforce Development, along with Jennifer Roberts and Stephan Tomlinson.

 

 

Milestone MOU launched for WIOA

Missouri met one of the first major milestones for implementing WIOA. Missouri’s core workforce partners executed the official state-level MOU showing the commitment to improve collaboration at the state and local levels. This is important to workforce professionals at the local level as the MOU provides the tools to increase collaboration and braid resources locally, according to Amy Sublett, Director for the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.

skydiving-team-integrationThe official purpose of the MOU is to establish a collaborative framework encouraging cooperation, collaboration, communication, policy and technical guidance and governance to assist the efficient and effective participation in the WIOA implementation in Missouri. The partners will collaborate to identify effective services for efficient, consistent customer service delivery. The MOU includes a disclaimer that partners continue to have statutory responsibilities relating to the administration of their respective programs outside of, and not contained in, WIOA.

In Missouri, the core partners representing these programs formed a steering team at the state level to support  efforts taking place at the local level.  Representatives from the agencies include Vocational Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Workforce Development, Employment Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Adult Education and Literacy. While TANF is not specifically mentioned as a core partner in WIOA, Missouri opted to include TANF in this tier in order to gain ground in integration and to achieve the improvements sought in the recently-enacted Senate Bill 24.

Altogether, the MOU, Missouri’s WIOA Implementation Steering Committee, and four new state-level workgroups, are all designed to provide guidance to the staff of Missouri’s local Workforce Development Boards to move forward on WIOA implementation on the ground level. The workgroups include Administration, Service Design and Delivery, Employer Engagement, and Technology, Data, and Outcomes.

  • Administrative
    • Core partner identification and designation
    • Core Partners Interagency Agreement (Local MOUs)
    • Agreements and MOUs with other Agencies/Institutions
    • Confidentiality Policies
    • Cost Allocation
    • Resource Sharing
    • Cross Training and Technical Assistance
    • Region and Local Area Designations (mapping)
    • Equal Opportunity
    • State/local planning
    • Labor Market Information
    • Integrated policies and guidance
  • Service Design and Delivery
    • Referral and follow-up
    • Common intake and enrollment
    • Assessment and Evaluation
    • Internships, Apprenticeships, Trial Work Experience, OJT
    • Education and Training
    • Programmatic Requirements
    • Transition and Youth
    • Assistive Technology Services
    • Products and Services for all customers (including online tools)
  • Employer Engagement
    • Services to Employers
    • Sector Strategies/Career Pathways
  • Technology, Data, and Outcomes
    • I.T. System for Core Programs
    • Confidentiality
    • Data Sharing
    • Data Fields
    • Data Collection Points
    • Common Measures
    • Closure and Exit
    • Performance Verification

NCRC boosts workforce rankings for states

siteselectionmagjan2015coverThe ACT National Career Readiness Certificate was recently mentioned in an article in Site Selection magazine, a publication devoted to corporate real estate strategy and economic development. The article outlines the need to address the shortage of technically skilled workers in today’s the labor market through economic development and training. It goes on to introduce a system of ranking states according to their efforts in economic development, a key component of which is the ACT NCRC.

Missouri and Kansas placed third and fourth, respectively, in the magazine’s rankings for the West-North-Central section. Oklahoma ranked second for the South-Central section of the nation. To determine which states are the most competitive in preparing their workforce, Site Selection uses three equally weighted criteria, including the number of National Career Readiness Certificates issued. Rankings for each section of the country are provided in the article.

With a circulation of 45,000 subscribers, the magazine is widely used by development agencies and corporate decision-makers in expansion planning. By including the ACT NCRC so prominently in its state-by-state economic development ranking system, Site Selection has put a spotlight on ACT’s Work Ready Communities initiative, highlighting how the NCRC can help states achieve a trained and competitive workforce.

New ACT Work Ready Communities Badge

JasperCWRCBadge2015ACT Work Ready Communities is proud to debut a new badge that promotes and celebrates each county that achieves and maintains certification as a part of ACT Work Ready Communities. One example (pictured left) for the Maintained Status badge is now online for Jasper County.

The ACT Work Ready Communities website will display the badge for each county that achieves certification. The badge features the county name and year the certification was earned, along with the years the certification is maintained.Through a licensing agreement with ACT, each certified county will also have the opportunity to use the badge on its own literature and website to promote participation in the Work Ready Communities initiative. The badge licensing agreement is expected to be available in late March 2015.

President Obama promotes Open Education initiatives

student using tablet on abstract screenOn the third anniversary of the Open Government Partnership with the U.S. and the leaders of seven other nations, President Obama announced additional commitments for promote Open Education initiatives, including specific references to an online skills academy coming soon through the U.S. Department of Labor. The White House announcement defined the initiative as the open sharing of digital learning materials, tools, and practices that ensures free access to and legal adoption of learning resources.

Also noted recently in the Ready to Work report and the task force outcomes under Vice-President Biden, Wednesday’s White House announcement committed funds for DOL’s Online Skills Academy. The Department of Labor (DOL), with cooperation from the Department of Education, will award $25 million through competitive grants to launch an online skills academy in 2015 that will offer open online courses of study, using technology to create high-quality, free, or low-cost pathways to degrees, certificates, and other employer-recognized credentials.

Other Open Education elements included in Wednesday’s announcement deal with partnerships and awareness in open education with entities such as the State Department, U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of Science and Technology. The State Department will conduct three pilots overseas by December 2015 that use open educational resources to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts. The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for interested educators. Learn more online from the White House press release.

 

 

More than 260 attend workforce leader forums

Labor markets, employment, jobs, workforce development—these topics are at the forefront of many communities throughout the seven states of the Tenth District. However, how they play out in each state and community differs greatly.  This article from Steven Shepelwich, Senior Community Development Advisor takes a look at trends and resources available.

The Kansas City Fed recently hosted forums in Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver, Colo.; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Omaha, Neb., to share new research on labor force conditions faced by low- and moderate-income (LMI) workers and gain insight into local workforce issues. More than 260 leaders from the community and workforce development, business and education sectors participated in the forums.

Melissa Robbins from the South Central WIB and Jasen Jones from the Southwest WIB participated in the Kansas City event in July. This article from Steven Shepelwich, Senior Community Development Advisor takes a look at trends and resources available.

The Kansas City Fed’s Workforce Development program provides community leaders and professionals with research and resources about local labor markets, effective policies and innovative programs. Integrating these efforts into employee training helps promote mutual growth between employers, the labor market and the community.

During the forums, findings from the Bank’s new research report, the Tenth District LMI Labor Force Report, provided a foundation for the discussions. This report presents analyses of trends in unemployment rates, employment projections for workers with training and experience typical of LMI individuals, and wage and job availability data.

An important contribution of the report is an analysis of unemployment rates by income group using county unemployment rates. This new method provides insight into the complex relationship of income and unemployment. Unemployment rates in LMI counties were found to be much higher than unemployment rates in middle- and upper-income counties.

A key contributor to this difference in unemployment rates is that LMI workers tend to have lower education levels and more sporadic work experience. The report reviewed national job projections and found that wages and salaries in all occupations requiring little education or experience would place a worker in the LMI category. Low-skill, direct-care jobs in the healthcare sector are increasing rapidly and provide employment opportunities for many with limited skills or experience.

Given the rapid increase in direct-care positions in the healthcare sector and their low barriers to entry, the Bank has developed partnerships focused on improving the outcomes of these positions for LMI workers. Through one partnership, the Bank is working with the New Mexico Direct Caregiver Coalition to define career paths that will expand opportunities for those who provide direct care. This approach strengthens connections among employers, education providers and support organizations to provide workers with greater access to resources and support.

In Oklahoma, the Bank is collaborating with the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City campus, and the Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board, to connect bilingual workers to high-demand jobs in the healthcare and public safety fields. This program focuses on outreach, assessment and establishing educational pathways to serve workers with limited education and work experience.

These engagements are based on the Bank’s understanding of workforce issues, its research and partnerships with local stakeholders. The Bank frames its work around activities of convening stakeholders, leading engagements with partners and developing resources for practitioners. See sidebar for a list of activities.

In each forum, participants discussed critical workforce development issues faced in their communities. The following were recurring themes:

  • Coordination of resources: Participants identified the need for holistic, community-based approaches to develop jobs and employees with the skills needed to fill these jobs. Coordination between workforce and economic and social development organizations needs to be strengthened to ensure that resources are leveraged and address local conditions.
  • Specific populations: Several LMI populations face specific barriers, such as reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce, transitioning foster youth and individuals with mental and substance abuse into job training programs and careers. The populations often face unique challenges that limit their employment including drug use and failure to pass pre-employment drug tests.
  • Job readiness skills: Despite relatively low unemployment throughout the region, participants noted that certain groups face difficulties in becoming employed due to a lack of basic job readiness skills. Participants noted the general effect of low education levels, limited work experience and weak ties to career networks and mentors as hurdles.
  • Rural focus: Participants noted that in rural communities, workforce development approaches need to be tailored to specific workforce issues and opportunities. Limited infrastructure, sparse populations and larger geographic coverage areas increase pressure on service providers and can limit access to workforce services for clients. In addition, the types of jobs and availability often are more limited.

These issues represent significant challenges to ensuring that all individuals have access to gainful employment. The Kansas City Fed will continue to work with partners throughout the region to address these issues through its role in convening stakeholders, conducting research and developing programs and tools that support the development of a strong workforce.

 

 

Ready to Work report debuts with WIOA signing

As President Obama signed the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act into law Tuesday, Vice-President Biden’s task force also released Ready to Work:  Job Driving Training and American OpportunityThe report reflects an across-the-board review of  America’s job training programs to ensure they share a single mission: providing workers with the skills they need to secure good jobs that are ready to be filled. Ready to Work identified three consistent themes.

  • EMPLOYERS can’t find enough skilled workers to hire for in-demand jobs they must fill to grow their businesses.
  • EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS need better information on what skills those in-demand jobs require.
  • HARD-WORKING AMERICANS,whether studying, looking for work, or wanting better career paths, often aren’t sure what training to pursue and whether jobs will be waiting when they finish.

VPBiden-Workforce1107x400

Among the various case studies and rationale, the report contains a seven-point Job Training Checklist to guide administrative reforms to ensure that what’s working best becomes what all Americans can expect from federally funded employment and training programs. Each of these checklist elements is based on evidence of what’s working, summarized in What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence.

  • ENGAGING EMPLOYERS: Work up-front with employers to determine local or regional hiring needs and design training programs that are responsive to those needs.
  • EARN AND LEARN:  Offer work-based learning opportunities with employers – including on-the-job training, internships and pre-apprenticeships and Registered Apprenticeships – as training paths to employment.
  • SMART CHOICES:  Make better use of data to drive accountability, inform what programs are offered and what is taught, and offer user-friendly information for job seekers to choose programs and pathways that work for them and are likely to result in jobs
  • MEASUREMENT MATTERS:  Measure and evaluate employment and earnings outcomes.
  • STEPPING STONES:  Promote a seamless progression from one educational stepping stone to another, and across work-based training and education, so individuals’ efforts result in progress
  • OPENING DOORS:  Break down barriers to accessing job-driven training and hiring for any American who is willing and able to work, including access to job supports and relevant guidance.
  • REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS:  Create regional collaborations among American Job Centers, education institutions, labor, and non-profits.

The U.S. Department of Labor and many workforce development associations are eager to get to work on the opportunities ahead. DOL issued an administrative notice (TEN 5-14), Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Announcement and Initial Informational Resources, to get the ball rolling on conference calls, input channels, important deadlines, and more related to implementation.

Local Workforce Investment Boards in Missouri are proactive as well. Five WIBs joined forces to bring together a training event in Branson next week. Diving Into WIOA is slated for July 30-31 featuring Rochelle Daniels.