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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 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

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: 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

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.