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

USCC launches talent pipeline initiative

White Paper Introduces Innovative Concept that Leverages Lessons Learned from Supply Chain Management, Applies Them to Education and Workforce Partnerships (Press Release)



WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today announced a partnership with USA Funds and released a white paper detailing an innovative program focused on a new approach to closing the skills gap in America. The white paper, Managing the Talent Pipeline: A New Approach to Closing the Skills Gap, by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Education and Workforce Senior Director of Policy Jason A. Tyszko, The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy Research Professor Robert G. Sheets, and Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Joseph B. Fuller, introduces the concept of talent pipeline management as a way to transform the relationship between America’s businesses and education and workforce providers.

“We have people without jobs and jobs without people,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation President John McKernan Jr. “There are nearly five million jobs available across the country at a time when almost 10 million Americans are still out of work. Employers large and small attribute much of this to a workforce that lacks the skills necessary for the jobs of the 21st century. Our alliance with USA Funds will help address this.”

Leveraging lessons learned from supply chain management, the white paper offers a fresh way to think about education and workforce relationships that will ensure job prospects for students and a steady flow of qualified workers for employers. The paper also documents leading practices of employers who have been successful in this practice.

“Previous efforts to address employer concerns about lack of available talent have been led by schools, postsecondary institutions, and worker training programs,” said USA Funds President and CEO William Hansen. “This new approach places employers in the driver’s seat and gives them the tools they need to treat education providers as they do other partners in their supply chain becoming integral in developing curriculum and creating work based experiences that enrich the academic preparation.”

Over the next two years the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and USA Funds will work closely with employers, employer-led associations, and receptive education providers in select communities across the country to help close the skills gap so that American jobs do not go unfilled for lack of qualified workers.

To read and download the white paper, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management webpage here.



The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness by addressing developments that affect our nation, our economy, and the global business environment.

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more atwww.usafunds.org.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

Targeting middle skill jobs for competitiveness

The demand for “middle-skills” jobs—those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree—remains high, yet the lack of a properly skilled workforce is hindering the ability of American businesses to compete globally. Similarly, a lack of relevant skills is hurting the average American’s ability to earn more and improve living standards. While business leaders, policymakers and educators recognize the problem, millions of job postings go unfilled even as millions of people remain unemployed or underemployed.

In this feature from the Harvard Business School, America’s business leaders are rallied to lead the charge to close the skills gap. By working in collaboration with educators and policymakers, employers can spark a revival of middle-skills jobs in America.

Cover image for Bridge the GapAccording to the report, Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills, employers say it’s a continuous challenge to fill middle-skills positions even though the number of people seeking employment remains high. The research is the first to analyze America’s middle-skills jobs market data with a focus on competitiveness, and provides a framework for business leaders to prioritize jobs that matter for their business, industry, community and region. To close the skills gap, business should first focus on middle-skills jobs that:

  • Create high value for businesses;
  • Provide not only decent wages initially, but also a pathway to increasing lifetime career value for many workers;
  • Are persistently hard-to-fill.

“For too long we have accepted the cliché that America’s jobs machine is broken. Someone has to take the lead in restarting it, and business leaders are in the best position to take decisive steps to end the misalignment in our economy—millions of job postings alongside millions of unemployed. This is the single most important issue to strengthen U.S. competitiveness—and bring back the American dream for our workers,” said Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Joe Fuller, lead author of the report. “I am very grateful for the support of Accenture and Burning Glass as research partners. Accenture has worked in skills development across the globe and provides invaluable insights into the needs for skills in U.S. businesses of all sizes and across industries. Burning Glass provides us with unprecedented access to unique data on the U.S. jobs market, helping us identify, for the first time, the middle-skills jobs that matter most for America.”

The report, which is part of Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, reveals the middle-skills jobs critical to competitiveness, guides business leaders about where to direct efforts and informs educators and policymakers about the need for closer collaboration with local employers. For example, the analysis shows that occupations in technical sales and sales management (e.g., financial services sales agent) are plentiful and often more rewarding than those that receive significantly more attention in the national dialogue, such as manufacturing occupations (e.g., machinist and tool-and-die makers). Narrowing initial efforts to these specific jobs provides a starting point to stem skills erosion, lift the middle class, and produce workers with in-demand skills.

“The majority of businesses have trouble filling middle-skills jobs due to many underlying issues such as inadequate training and lack of experience,” said David Smith, senior managing director – Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization. “Businesses must develop a better process to source, develop, deploy and retain middle-skills talent to ensure their long-term productivity and corporate performance.”

The report’s overarching recommendations include:

  • BUSINESS LEADERS must champion an employer-led skills-development system, in which they bring the type of rigor and discipline in sourcing middle- skills talent that they apply to their supply chains. This includes workforce planning to identify skills gaps, ongoing and preferred relationships with talent sources, especially community and technical colleges, and building robust internal training and internship/apprenticeship programs.
  • EDUCATORS from community and technical colleges must embrace their roles as employment partners helping their students realize their ambitions by being attentive to developments in the jobs market and employer needs.
  • POLICYMAKERS must actively foster collaboration between employers and educators, investing in improving publicly available information on the jobs market, revising metrics for educators and workforce development programs so that success is based on placing students and workers in meaningful employment, and championing the crucial role that middle-skills jobs play in a competitive U.S. economy.

“For too long, we have been working in the dark to address the skills gap,” said Matthew Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. “Now that more sophisticated data is available, employers, educators, and policymakers can identify the most critical middle skill jobs, pinpointing the specific skills and qualifications we need to develop to keep America competitive.”

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 305,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Through its Skills to Succeedcorporate citizenship initiative, Accenture is committed to equipping 700,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. The company generated net revenues of US$30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

About Burning Glass
Burning Glass’s tools and data are playing a growing role in informing the global conversation on education and the workforce by providing researchers, policy makers, educators, and employers with detailed real-time awareness into skill gaps and labor market demand. A Boston-based labor market analytics firm, Burning Glass provides tools for analysts track job market trends and for students to plan their careers and find jobs. Burning Glass collects and analyzes job postings from close to 37,000 online sources and then deploys advanced proprietary text mining to “read” each job description, allowing us to analyze the specific jobs, experience, qualifications, and skills employers are seeking in real time. www.burning-glass.com.

About the HBS U.S. Competitiveness Project
The U.S. Competitiveness Project is a research-led effort by Harvard Business School to understand and improve the competitiveness of the United States – that is, the ability of firms operating in the U.S. to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for Americans. The Project focuses especially on the roles that business leaders can and do play in promoting U.S. competitiveness. Current faculty research focuses on improving PK-12 education; closing the middle skills gap; and improving America’s aging infrastructure for moving people, goods, and information. For more information about Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, please visit: www.hbs.edu/competitiveness & www.hbs.edu/competitiveness/survey.

A Coming of Age Story for Career Pathways

Pathways Explainer-cover-shotAt the recent National Dialogue on Career Pathways, many federal officials observed that the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) uses the term “career pathways” more than twenty times, signaling a coming of age for this powerful workforce development strategy.  This update from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) offers helpful background on the Career Pathways movement along with the emerging framework in synergy with WIOA.

The career pathway approach connects progressive levels of education, training, support services, and credentials for specific occupations in a way that optimizes the progress and success of individuals with varying levels of abilities and needs. This approach can benefit well-prepared students, but it’s especially beneficial for more vulnerable populations.

WIOA provides a comprehensive definition of a career pathway program and signals the move toward career pathway system building. While WIOA heavily features career pathway language, new and existing partnerships may still wonder what exactly is meant by “career pathways” and programs and partnerships may need a better understanding of the nuances of career pathways before they’re ready to receive help building systems.

To guide the work ahead, Career Pathways Explained, is brought to you by CLASP and the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, a partner-driven initiative with 10 leading states that successfully developed a framework identifying criteria and indicators to define high-quality career pathway systems and metrics to measure and manage success. This visually engaging, web-based tool explains how the career pathways approach helps individuals with limited skills access education and training that leads to employment in occupations and industries that are in high demand. It also provides concrete examples of success in Alliance states. The tool is designed to explain career pathways to people in the field who appreciate this approach but are not steeped in it.

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.



Recruitment underway for WIOA committee on disabilities

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities is a key part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014 to help job seekers—including those with disabilities—access the services they need to succeed in employment and match employers with skilled workers. The committee is mandated by Section 609 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by section 461 of WIOA. The committee consists of both federal officials and private citizens from specific groups identified in the WIOA legislation. People interested in being nominated for the committee are encouraged to review the Federal Register Notice and submit the requested information. Questions about the committee can be submitted via e-mail to IntegratedCompetitiveEmployment@dol.gov.

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.



Conference announced on transforming policy for the 21st century

The Federal Reserve Banks of KC and Atlanta teamed up with the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University for a conference on transforming U.S. workforce development policies for the 21st century. Slated for October 15-17, national experts will share their perspectives on transformative workforce development and education strategies and policies. The official conference page contains registration and logistical info online. Some highlights include:

  • An esteemed panel of experts from McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, W.E. Upjohn Institute, MDRC, Aspen Institute, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, National Governors Association, Urban Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation, National Skills Coalition, CLASP, AARP, and National Association of State Workforce Agencies will discuss measuring success through research, evaluation, and data in the workforce development field.
  • Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Kansas City Fed President Esther George will provide comments on the current state of the workforce system and implications for monetary policy. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler will address transformative changes in the economy and in public policy.
  • Policymakers will give their perspectives on key issues facing American workers, education and training institutions, and local communities, and the policies they are embracing to respond to current labor market issues.