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 or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.

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

Youth NCRC testing funds available

readysetgrow-mocwrc 600x400The Missouri Work Ready Communities initiative announced $100,000 in grants available for CWRC counties in progress to help with testing high school students in pursuit of the emerging workforce goal. Applications for the grants up to $5,000 per county are open through April 2016. The grants are prioritized for high school WorkKeys testing with preference given to counties in which no other funding sources are available. The Missouri Division of Workforce Development is the entity reviewing applications. For questions or more info, contact Cheri Tune at DWD by calling 573-291-5686 or by email to

Bids sought for sector strategies

The Workforce Investment Board of Southeast seeks the services from qualified individuals and companies to serve as an expert Sector Strategy and Workforce Development consultant to assist Missouri’s fourteen Workforce Development Regions in developing their local workforce plans and provide effective strategies and technical expertise developing regional sector partnerships and career pathways to spur growth, advance workers, and address employer skill needs. To accomplish these tasks, the successful consultant will collaborate with fourteen Local Workforce Investment Boards and twelve community colleges in Missouri’s ten Economic Development Regions.  The RFP is now available for download.

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.

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

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.

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.



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.


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.