As the United States faces global competition and challenges to its economic strength, state legislatures are implementing new educational strategies to address the “skills gap.”
• 54% of employers report job vacancies that cannot be filled due to a lack of qualified applicants
• 64% of companies say they cannot find qualified applicants for management, scientific, engineering or technical positions
• 67% of small and midsize manufacturers report moderate to severe workforce shortages
The skilled workers for tomorrow will be found among the low-skilled adults of today, including “opportunity youth” and immigrants.
The partnership collaborates to identify skill gaps, develop plans to close the gaps, and implement the plan. Participants provide labor market information and identify skill standards and industry-based certifications.
Data and information are essential to allow policymakers to build an effective workforce development system.
“At Instituto we believe education is power – it is the power and freedom to enjoy the best of what this country has to offer. It is the power to provide for our families and ensure a better quality of life.”
Mr. Salgado reported that, in Chicago alone, 60,000 young adults aged 16 to 21 are not attending school, which has seen a 50% drop-out rate for the past 15 years.
Adults in the Instituto programs have many competing priorities such as jobs and families, and the program itself is quite demanding. Participants study 4 hours per day 5 days a week, in addition to working and caring for their families.
Children from working-class families are serving internships in the hospitals and preparing for professional positions in healthcare settings.
Hon. Tom Finneran
Sen. Mark Norris
Sen. Troy Fraser
Sen. Jonathan Dismang
Sen. Jeffrey Kessler
Sen. Mo Denis
Sen. Pam Jochum
Labor markets are local, with some states facing a labor shortage while others struggle with greater than 6.5% unemployment.
Nationwide, there are currently about 3.8 million workers who have been unemployed for an average of 37 months.
Any education beyond high school provides a better opportunity for employment and a premium on lifetime earnings.
To a large degree, the future success of American businesses will depend on their ability to find talented employees—who can quickly learn new skills and implement increasingly sophisticated technologies—and retain them.
“96% of college and university chief academic officers said they are extremely or somewhat confident in their institution's ability to prepare students for success in the workforce.… only 11% of business leaders strongly agree that today's college graduates have the skills and competencies that their business needs.”
States would need to align workforce- and economic-development strategies and support industry-targeted workforce efforts. One way to do this is to provide incentives to encourage partnerships between community colleges and employers.
Sen. John Alario
Sen. Hanna Gallo
They found that employers are having trouble finding workers who are trained for the jobs that are available, particularly in skilled labor and professional positions.
Chase’s New Skills at Work program was created to bring together employers, training partners, policymakers, funders and others to share information, identify best training practices from around the world, and support sector partnerships.
“We need outcomes data to identify the best-in-class programs, which can be scaled up and implemented in other locales.”
We are moving forward with the national agenda for skills development to increase our global competitiveness.
Sen. Peter Courtney
Sen. Martin Looney
Dr. Gary Hoachlander, President of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, described the program’s positive outcomes.
Each day, 7,000 students drop out—one every 26 seconds. Nearly 25% won’t finish high school. For students of color, including Latino and African American students, that number can go as high as 40%.
The Career Pathways Linked Learning program, which combines challenging academics with hands-on technical learning to prepare students for both college and career success. Students are prepared to take advantage of the full range of post-secondary options, from university and community college, to apprenticeships, certificate programs, military, and direct employment.
Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser oversees 42 Linked Learning Pathways in 12 high schools serving 83,000 students.
“In the past, students were not excited about what they were learning; they did not see the applications to real life. Now they see the applications, for example, of geometry in building trades, or physics in the radiation center at the hospital, or metrics, as a group of students launched rockets with NASA scientists to test ceramics.”
Pathways integrate rigorous academic instruction with demanding technical proficiencies and field-based learning.
Robin Willner (NYS P-TECH Leadership Council) created highly successful programs to engage executives as mentors for high school students.
The education gap is threatening economic security for many Americans. Those with a college degree will earn $1 million more than those with a high school diploma over a lifetime.
P-TECH is a response to this challenge. The program redesigns grades 9-14 to prepare students for the 29 million “middle jobs,” the fast-growing job opportunities in the health, technology, manufacturing, and finance sectors, that have the highest demand for postsecondary education.
State departments and boards of education are responsible for supporting public early childhood, K-12 secondary, higher education, and technical and community educational institutions. Because education is a substantial part of the states’ budgets and responsibilities, the Senate Presidents’ Forum (SPF) has regularly examined emerging educational challenges.
As the United States faces global competition and challenges to its economic strength, state legislatures are implementing new educational strategies to address the “skills gap.” The Forum explored new approaches to education in sessions on Workforce Preparedness.
At the Summer 2014 Forum, Bryan Wilson, State Policy Director for the National Skills Coalition, assessed opportunities to close the US-wide “skills gap.” He presented data on efforts to identify sectors where the need for workers is greatest and to design community college training programs for those who need the most help to get and keep those jobs, including youth who are neither in school nor employed, low-skilled adults, and immigrants.
The National Skills Coalition is a nonprofit, non-partisan, coalition of business, labor, education and training providers, in addition to community-based organizations that advocates for raising the skills of workers for a strong economy. The coalition seeks to grow the American economy by investing in its people, so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.
The coalition’s mission is to organize broad-based coalitions seeking to improve the skills of the nation’s workers across a range of industries, advocate for public policies that invest in what works, as informed by our members’ real-world expertise and experiences, and communicate these goals to an American public seeking a vision for a strong US economy that allows everyone to be part of its success.
While some pundits question the reality of a “skills gap,” Mr. Wilson presented evidence from a variety of sources that the skills gap exists and has a negative impact on US productivity. In the Career Builder Survey, 54% of employers report job vacancies that cannot be filled due to a lack of qualified applicants. A McKinsey Survey found that 64% of companies say they cannot find qualified applicants for management, scientific, engineering or technical positions. In a National Manufacturing Institute Survey, 67% of small and midsize manufacturers report moderate to severe workforce shortages, and they predict this will get worse, rather than better. In a survey of manufacturers by Accenture, 39% of respondents reported a "severe" lack of qualified, skilled applicants, while 79% find difficulty in hiring the skilled people they need.
Midlevel skilled jobs, which require more than high-school but less than a four-year degree, make up the majority of skilled jobs in American’s labor market, Mr. Wilson commented. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, by 2020, 56% of jobs will require middle-level skills. He added that, while education reform—fixing K-12 education—is important, that alone is not the answer. States cannot address their middle-skill challenges by focusing solely on the next generation of workers coming out of K-12, because two-thirds of the next decade’s workforce is already working. The number of low-skilled adults already in the workforce is equal to the size of the next 10 high school graduating classes combined. Mr. Wilson pointed out that the skilled workers for tomorrow will be found among the low-skilled adults of today, including “opportunity youth” and immigrants.
A plethora of programs are designed to address the skills gap by providing middle-skill training for adults and youth. Programs include the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Title I Program for adults, youth, and dislocated workers, Employment and Training programs offered by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and community and technical college workforce education and training programs, which are the largest training programs in the US.
Mr. Wilson noted that the problem with this “hodgepodge of programs” is lack of coordination. The National Skills Coalition launched the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP) to assess what the states are doing to better coordinate programs for effective job-skills training to meet the needs of local industries and create opportunities for employment. He reviewed some of the states’ strategies for aligning workforce programs and creating more rational and user-friendly career pathways. “We need to know what fields require more skilled workers and what level of skills are needed,” Mr. Wilson said. “Then we can build programs that train people for open jobs.”
One approach relies on Sector Partnerships. Within an industry sector, a partnership of employers, education and training providers, public agencies, labor, community-based organizations and others work together to identify industry skill needs and develop and implement plans to address those needs. This partnership may be convened by an agency or nonprofit intermediary but it is employer-led.
The partnership collaborates to identify skill gaps, develop plans to close the gaps, and implement the plan. Participants provide labor market information and identify skill standards and industry-based certifications. They establish K-12 to postsecondary pipelines and build career pathways for low-skilled adults. They implement the training programs to meet identified needs and do marketing for workforce recruitment.
Typically, the state provides funds to the local partnership in a Workforce Development Area from State General Funds or Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds—up to $5 million statewide and $25,000 to $250,000 per local grant will be allocated through a competitive RFP process.
Mr. Wilson cited examples of states with Sector Partnerships:
• PA: Industry Partnership Program, Act 67 of 2011
• MA: Middle Skills Gap Grant Program, Workforce Solutions Act/Economic Stimulus Bill of 2006
• MD: Employment Assistance Right Now (EARN), HB 227, 2013
A Career Pathway is a sequence of education and training courses and support services that enable low-skilled individuals to obtain postsecondary credentials and better employment. Career Pathways integrate basic education and skills training in career-oriented programs that are based on the skill needs of employers and industry sectors. Participants earn industry-recognized credentials and job placement support. Many programs include intensive wraparound support services necessary to help participants succeed.
Career Pathways have been instituted in several states, according to Mr. Wilson, including:
• IA: Pathways for Academic Career and Employment Program (PACE) $11.5m (2013)
• CO: HB13-1005 Accelerated Education and Skills Training (2013) HB 1085 Adult Education Act (2014)
• MN: Fast TRAC $3m over two years (2013)
• IN: SB 330, Financial Aid for Part-Time Students (2014)
• OR: Career Pathways Initiative
• WA: I-BEST, Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training SNAP E&T, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training
• RI: focused on job-driven investments. The Senate passed a resolution urging community colleges to expand middle-skill offerings, and the legislature appropriated $150,000 to establish apprenticeships in manufacturing.
Data and information are essential to allow policymakers to build an effective workforce development system. Mr. Wilson described dashboards of cross-program metrics that show the results of workforce and educational programs in a consistent and easily accessible manner. He emphasized the importance of Credential Measurement and Supply-Demand Reports that quantify the supply of credentials across human capital programs, compare the supply of newly credentialed workers with employer demand, and review scorecards that show the completion rates and employment and earnings outcomes of individual programs of study at local institutions and providers.
States leveraging data to improve workforce development have implemented dashboards, credential measurement and supply-demand reports, or scorecards including:
• IA: Iowa Education Outcome Initiative (2014)
• WA: “Workforce Training Results” Revised Code of Washington 28C.18.060
• MD: Cross-Agency Credential Measurement, StateStat
• WA: “A Skilled and Educated Workforce”
• CO: Skills for Jobs Act, 2012
• WA: CareerBridge.wa.gov
• CollegeMeasures.org: AR, CO, FL, TN, TX, VA
• KY: H.B. 87 Employment and Earnings of Postsecondary Graduates (2014)
• ME: H.P. 1253, State Education and Employment Outcomes Task Force (2014)
Mr. Wilson concluded that these state programs are testing models to find the effective ways to coordinate training programs for workforce development to meet the challenges of the US economy.
Juan Salgado, President and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, described his program’s strategies to connect employers who need workers with those who have the necessary skills to succeed. Using a referral process, the program provides needed training to workers and then funnels the applicants to the open jobs.
“At Instituto we believe education is power – it is the power and freedom to enjoy the best of what this country has to offer. It is the power to provide for our families and ensure a better quality of life,” Mr. Salgado told the Forum.
Instituto’s mission is to contribute to the fullest development of Latino immigrants, other minority groups, and their families through education, training and employment that foster full participation in the changing US society while preserving cultural identity and dignity.
Instituto is a recognized leader reaching every Latino family in the Chicago metro area where participants are proactive agents of change in their communities and have secure economic futures in an environment that recognizes and values everybody’s uniqueness and cultivates their growth.
“We strive to connect the workers’ desire to get ahead with the employers’ needs for workers,” Mr. Salgado said. The Instituto grew out of a community-based organization that met in the basement of a church and initially helped new Latino immigrants acquire literacy in Spanish and then in English.
In Illinois today, the challenge is less about new immigrants and more about the 25% of the student population who are Latino. Most students entering community college require 1-3 remedial classes before they can attend the 101 courses, and many end up dropping out without earning any credits. Mr. Salgado reported that, in Chicago alone, 60,000 young adults aged 16 to 21 are not attending school, which has seen a 50% drop-out rate for the past 15 years.
For 2014 and beyond, the organization is focused on addressing this alarming trend and improving job opportunities for these young adults. Employers acknowledged that, while they appreciated the work ethic of their Latino workers, many workers lacked the necessary English and math skills to perform the higher paying jobs, such as reading blueprints and operating computer-controlled machinery.
To meet this challenge, the Instituto has developed Career Pathways, which start each participant on a learning journey that begins where he or she is. If English as a Second Language (ESL) is needed, the first 16 weeks are spent acquiring this skill. A step-by-step pathway leads to higher skilled, higher paying jobs. A person who starts with an eighth-grade reading level will require 2 years of intensive training to qualify for a job that pays well.
Mr. Salgado pointed out that adults in the Instituto programs have many competing priorities such as jobs and families, and the program itself is quite demanding. Participants study 4 hours per day 5 days a week, in addition to working and caring for their families. This schedule takes intensive focus and commitment to get through the entire program. The Instituto provides essential support services including child care and transportation to encourage completion.
Instituto’s career pathways programs have been developed in a sector-based model, working in the medical and manufacturing sectors.
Chicago is home to many medical institutions, and Instituto’s survey of healthcare partners revealed a shortage of trained applicants for middle-level jobs. No one from the Latino community was enrolled in the community college Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. Instituto started a Career Pathway program in response to this need, and, to date, 319 LPNs have graduated from the community college with support from the Instituto program.
There is now a charter high school for medical jobs with 750 students enrolled. These children from working-class families are serving internships in the hospitals and preparing for professional positions in healthcare settings.
The Career Pathway Model
In partnership with local manufacturers, the Instituto developed a referral program that funnels trained applicants into open jobs. The Instituto works with manufacturers to ensure appropriate training that leads to the appropriate licenses and credentials. The Instituto schedules Human Resources interviews and provides follow-up services to support worker retention. Along with manufacturers, Instituto ensures that required assessements, such as skills or drug testing are completed.
Hon. Tom Finneran (Moderator): How do you identify which industry sectors will have job openings?
Mr. Wilson: Any locality asking for funding should have hard data indicating that the industry they are targeting will provide jobs, money, and a future for newly trained workers. We focus on sectors in which the marketplace has already demonstrated a competitive advantage. The training programs should emphasize these sectors.
Mr. Salgado: You must keep your eye on what’s happening on the ground and stay ahead of the trends. Then too, recognize that State Senate leaders can make the trends, as they are market makers. It’s important for policy makers and training program designers to stay informed about what is required for training and licensing of workers as these rules change.
Mr. Wilson: Certification and licensing are undeveloped areas of public policy. While 30% of adult workers must hold some license or certification, there are no public data on these areas. The National Skills Coalition is developing a database to identify which certifications and licenses have real value with employers.
Mr. Salgado: The Instituto and the Manufacturers’ Association have established a Roundtable to create feedback loops on what licensure and/or certifications are required for open and future jobs.
Sen. Mark Norris (TN): Some states have implemented federally funded longitudinal data systems. Are they useful?
Mr. Wilson: The utility of the systems varies by how each state uses the data. Currently, the data are used mostly to assess the impact of K-12 education, but postgraduate training is not tracked.
Sen. Troy Fraser (TX): As a manufacturer employing a lot of middle-skill workers and as a member of the legislature, I have been trying for 25 years to get the schools to be proactive and start training kids in high school for midlevel-skill jobs. I face a lot of resistance and am accused of trying to funnel minority children into lower-skill, lower-paying jobs. But we have an unmet need in the midlevel-skill jobs. As a manufacturer, I would pay to have people trained to fill these jobs.
Mr. Salgado: When Instituto started our medical assisting program, people demanded to know why we were training people for low-level Certified Nursing certificates. But we’re not doing that. Instead, we are setting participants on a career path that could lead to an RN or a BSN degree. Many of our students could not manage a 4-year college, so this gives them an alternate pathway to success.
Mr. Wilson: The concept is to provide multiple pathways, offering book learning or hands-on learning based on the learner’s preferences and abilities. In fact, the median earnings are higher for someone completing a technical training program in healthcare or performing a midlevel manufacturing job than for those with Bachelor’s Degrees.
Sen. Jonathan Dismang (AR): Is there a state with model legislation that engages major employers with the vocational and technical schools to design training programs for real jobs? In Arkansas, our Lottery earnings are earmarked for education, and they could be used for vocational training.
Mr. Wilson: That’s why partnerships are so important. Local employers need to have a role in helping to define the training programs. The reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) may help create a more unified system. To date, Georgia has allocated specific scholarships for technical training and Tennessee has done the same for 2-year college degrees.
Sen. Jeffrey Kessler (WV): West Virginia is prioritizing career and technical education in our next session. In our state, 40% of 16- to 28-year-old men are unemployed and not in school. They end up in jail, in prison or on drugs. We need strategies to target this group.
Mr. Salgado: That 40% needs a lot of help. They require adult high schools that can lead them toward career pathways.
Mr. Wilson: Career pathways and sector partnerships are just as applicable to disconnected youth where standard approaches have not worked. They need to see a practical path they can take toward a career they are interested in.
Sen. Mo Denis (NV): What is the priority across the country? Are states putting more money into the school-based training or creating incentives for businesses to do training?
Mr. Wilson: It varies by state, but this may be changing since the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. WIOA increases the funds available to the states, which could be used to create Sector Partnerships programs. The act also requires community colleges to be connected to Career Pathways and provides funding for training in middle skills and apprentice programs. [See http://www.doleta.gov/wioa/pdf/WIOA_FAQs_Acc.pdf]
Sen. Pam Jochum (IA): It’s a myth that a person needs a 4-year college degree to succeed. There are 300,000 Iowans in the workforce who do not have even a high school degree. The legislature created the Navigator Program, which helps adults earn their GED and follows them through obtaining necessary certifications or licensing, making job applications, preparing for interviews and, finally, getting and keeping a job. It is a new program and we will be measuring the outcomes.
In the last 3 years, the legislature has increased the investment in the community colleges and built a collaboration among the community colleges, Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Departments to educate high school students about midlevel-skilled jobs. Iowa has enough workers but not with the right skill sets. Now we’ll need metrics to assess our results.
John Colborn, Director of the Aspen Institute program, Skills for America’s Future, described its work with community colleges and employers to create partnerships that offer economic opportunity for job seekers and competitive advantage for employers. Mr. Colborn reviewed a number of factors that impact a person’s employment opportunities.
Mr. Colborn pointed out that while economic recovery is happening in some markets for some people, the return to employment varies locally. Labor markets are local, Mr. Colborn observed, noting that states such as South Dakota, Iowa, and Utah have a labor shortage and less than 4% unemployment, while others such as Alaska and Rhode Island struggle with greater than 6.5% unemployment.
The picture also is bleaker for the long-term unemployed, people who have given up looking for work or accepted involuntary part-time work. Nationwide, there are currently about 3.8 million workers who have been unemployed for an average of 37 months.
A worker’s educational levels directly affect his or her employment and earnings. Since December 2007, employment for people with Bachelor’s Degrees is up by 5 million jobs and only 100,000 for those with some college. At the same time, jobs for high school graduates have decreased by 3.1 million and by 1.5 million for those without high school diplomas.
In 2014, unemployment rates were 11.0% for those without a high school diploma, 7.4% for high school graduates, 6.6% for some college but no degree, 4% for a two-year occupational degree, 3.4% for those with a Bachelor’s Degree, and 2.7% for individuals with a post-graduate degree.
Any education beyond high school provides a better opportunity for employment and a premium on lifetime earnings. People with Bachelor’s Degrees earn approximately 50% more than those with high school degrees, and advanced degrees bring in more than twice the earnings, and professional certifications or licensing can also add to earnings, Mr. Colborn reported.
Job Creation and Low Wage Work
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says growth in the labor force is projected to slow significantly through 2016, which is traceable to Baby Boomers retiring and labor force participation rates of women declining. Jacob Kirkegaard, author of The Accelerating Decline in America’s High Skilled Workforce, says that during the last 30 years, the nation’s workforce skill levels have stagnated. He also predicts America could face “broad and substantial skill shortages” in this decade, which presents an enormous problem for US firms, especially since a skill cycle that once ran for three years now lasts just nine months.
The challenge is how to bring the long-term unemployed and less educated workers into the workforce in better-paying, high-skill jobs at a time when midlevel-skills jobs are disappearing, and less desirable low-skill jobs and more demanding high-skills jobs are increasing.
To a large degree, the future success of American businesses will depend on their ability to find talented employees—who can quickly learn new skills and implement increasingly sophisticated technologies—and retain them. And due to the corporate trend of focusing on core competencies and outsourcing the rest, the depth and range of skills required of employees will increase.
The US ranks 5th in the world for people entering college, but only 18th for college completion, Mr. Colborn reported. And there is a disconnect between the perceptions of college administrators and business leaders about how well colleges are preparing students for today’s careers.
Mr. Colborn reported that, while 96% of college and university chief academic officers said they are extremely or somewhat confident in their institution's ability to prepare students for success in the workforce… only 11% of business leaders strongly agree that today's college graduates have the skills and competencies that their business needs.
Mr. Colborn acknowledged that education is essential to improve employability and earning potential, but it must be linked to workforce demands. “We have to focus on the intersection of the labor supply and labor demand,” he emphasized. Employers need employees with higher level skills, with degrees and certificates relevant to the labor market’s needs. We have to improve the effectiveness of community colleges to provide updated, lifelong learning for career development, he concluded.
Mr. Colborn described a model state agenda for aligning employer needs with workforce training systems, which would start with career and technical-education reforms and expanded apprenticeship efforts.
States would need to align workforce- and economic-development strategies and support industry-targeted workforce efforts. One way to do this is to provide incentives to encourage partnerships between community colleges and employers. Mr. Colborn stressed the importance of investing in data systems to track effectiveness of education and training efforts by capturing information on job placement, wages, retention, and advancement as well as completion of degrees and industry-recognized credentials.
A state agenda for investing in better student outcomes would include maintaining college affordability mechanisms and improving work-study opportunities. He emphasized the need to invest in student tracking and performance indicators in addition to using performance-based funding.
Because many students get bogged down in remedial classes and never earn credits toward a degree, Mr. Colborn said states would need to reduce the need for – and improve the effectiveness of – basic skills remediation and improve credit transfer efficiency.
This Fall (2014), the US Department of Labor will launch the American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI). It is the largest investment in apprenticeships in US history. The Department of Labor is making $100 million in existing H-1B funds available for American Apprenticeship Grants to reward partnerships that help more workers participate in apprenticeships.
The new American Apprenticeship Grants highlight partnerships among employers, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, nonprofits and faith-based organizations that launch apprenticeship models in new, high-growth fields. Many fast-growing occupations and industries with open positions, such as in information technology, high-tech services, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, have the opportunity to adopt and adapt apprenticeship programs to meet their skilled workforce needs and align apprenticeships to pathways for further learning and career advancement. [See: http://www.doleta.gov/oa/aag.cfm]
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (MI): All the credits a student earns should count toward a degree. In Michigan, we require all colleges to exchange transfer credits. If a student leaves after 2 years in a 4-year program, he or she can still get an Associate's Degree. We are funding higher education based on the graduation rate.
Mr. Colborn: Community colleges are good at following policy rules, so this is a good mechanism to get them aligned with the state’s job training needs.
Sen. John Alario (LA): We approved a $300 million expansion in our school funding, including workforce development. We created industry–community college partnerships, and allocated $40 million to higher education for workforce development.
Mr. Colborn: It’s critical to provide incentives for community college and industry partnerships. The next step is to document the effectiveness of the training programs they generate.
Sen. Hanna Gallo (RI): In Rhode Island, we are focusing on the adults with partial college credits and getting them engaged to complete their 4-year degrees.
Mr. Colborn: Advisors in community colleges are overwhelmed. There may be 1,000 students assigned to one advisor. We have to automate advising, create early-warning systems and identify targeted populations that will need additional support to complete college.
Sen. Mark Norris (TN): Our Tuition-Free Tennessee program allows college scholarships to be used for applied technical training. Mentoring is required to supplement advising for students who need additional support. We have extended the concept of “base level” education to include higher level skills.
Mr. Colborn: During the Industrial Revolution, we decided that workers needed 12 years of education to be prepared for the workforce. We have to revisit that belief because today’s jobs may require 14 years of preparation. We need a more efficient education system that produces better outcomes for more students/workers. Our remedial Common Core support is poor. A more effective way to prepare students for the workforce is required.
There is a strong new federal push for apprenticeships, with federal funding becoming available this fall for these programs. South Carolina, for example, has the highest participation in apprenticeship programs in the country.
Eric Lugo, Vice President for Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, explained Chase’s philanthropic initiatives in support of the national agenda for workforce development and improved global competitiveness. Mr. Lugo and his team conducted a national poll asking the businesses that Chase serves “What do you need from Chase--beyond capital--to be successful?” The answer: We need talent.
They found that employers are having trouble finding workers who are trained for the jobs that are available, particularly in skilled labor and professional positions. His team asked “How can Chase’s philanthropy and strength be leveraged to make a real contribution to closing the skills gap and supporting the US workforce development initiative? What can we do to ensure that people are trained and competitive for the skilled jobs of the 21st century? What data are needed, what capital is needed, and what relationships are needed to prepare workers and link them to open jobs?”
To address this challenge, Chase committed $250 million to New Skills at Work, a 5-year program focused on closing the skills gap in the communities where Chase has a big employment footprint and also in areas where unemployment is high. The team brought together employers, community colleges, nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and other stakeholders to develop a strategy to address the skills gap.
Chase’s New Skills at Work program was created to bring together employers, training partners, policymakers, funders and others to share information, identify best training practices from around the world, and support sector partnerships. The aim is to encourage ongoing collaboration, support existing public and private efforts, develop shared plans in individual communities or regions, and highlight innovative approaches that can be replicated.
Guided by insights gained through research, JP Morgan Chase will make targeted investments to build the capacity of proven, demand-driven training partners and help them scale their programs. The goal is to help more young people and adults attain the credentials that position them to compete for skilled employment opportunities and can put them on a career pathway.
Reflecting on the current, chaotic, uncoordinated systems of education and training prevalent in most states today, Mr. Lugo stressed the importance of first creating a data system to assess outcomes among diverse career pathways and to provide feedback to the institutions that are designing training.
“We need outcomes data to identify the best-in-class programs, which can be scaled up and implemented in other locales,” he said. Such data will strengthen the public agenda, he noted, and also help individuals assess different career pathways. These data-driven analyses will inform training organizations, employers and policymakers as they develop effective workforce development programs.
Better data on local skill supply and demand are essential, Mr. Lugo added; therefore, the program develops Workforce Readiness Gap Reports, which examine the sectors within local markets that drive current and forecast economic growth and assess whether existing training programs are producing enough skilled candidates for available jobs.
Citing the example of New Skills at Work support for the Illinois Pathways Agenda, a statewide initiative, Mr. Lugo said “The goal is to align colleges, community colleges, and other training programs to meet the needs of local growth industries including healthcare, manufacturing, biotech, energy, finance and research and development. We are moving forward with the national agenda for skills development to increase our global competitiveness,” he concluded.
Hon. Tom Finneran (Moderator): Do other firms have programs like Chase’s philanthropic initiative to support workforce development?
Mr. Lugo: We have engaged with other institutions such as Boeing and Accenture to develop programs to move people into higher growth, higher skilled jobs.
Hon. Tom Finneran (Moderator): You mentioned that 96% of college administrators think they are doing a good job of preparing students for the workforce but only 11% of business leaders agree. What’s happening here?
Mr. Colborn: More than 30 employer surveys in the last 18 months have gotten the same message: Employers are desperate for workers with skills, and they are unhappy with the workers being produced by the higher education systems. To address this situation, we are convening a dialogue among colleges, industry and the WIOA boards to focus on getting better solutions for workforce development.
Sen. Hanna Gallo (RI): There seems to be a disconnect. Manufacturers used to do their own training. Now they want the technical schools to do the training but the manufacturers want to control it.
Mr. Salgado: The World Business Chicago Roundtable is a good model of broad-based interests, including manufacturers, other employers, nonprofit organizations and the community colleges. Critical reflection is needed from all sides. The manufacturers are saying they made a major mistake to stop their own investment in training. Now they have to rely on the system. For the manufacturers, there is the tension between getting the work done and getting the workers’ training done.
Sen. Peter Courtney (OR): When we focus on career or technical training, does that mean we should abandon the core curriculum? Some skills are universally needed, such as math and communications skills.
Mr. Colborn: We need to offer different alternatives to obtain those core skills, not a single academic path. Evidence shows that directed career pathways lead to better outcomes; there is less choice and one course leads to the next.
Employer surveys confirm that three skill sets are necessary: technical skills; basic skills that include reading, writing, and verbal skills; and career-readiness skills such as problem-solving, working in teams, finding information, teaching yourself, and working with a boss.
Mr. Salgado: We describe it as a Liberal Arts education for workers. They need the core competencies, which are academic skills that are shaped for the work life.
Sen. Martin Looney (CT): Many community college students get bogged down in remedial courses and end up with a lot of debt but never get the credits toward an Associate Degree. There should be limits on the number of remedial courses offered. Instead, extra supports should be embedded in credit-bearing courses. We need a forced dialogue with urban high schools to provide the remedial support that will prepare students for community college while they are still in high school.
Mr. Wilson: The state of Washington has an Integrated Basic Education Skills Program, where basic skills and higher skills are taught in the same classroom.
Mr. Salgado: Community colleges do not have the resources to deal with remediation. We have to set standards for entry into the community colleges. We need more innovative solutions for remediation, which may be delivered more effectively by private or nonprofit entities.
Sen. Troy Fraser (TX): What’s missing from the data on jobs and the economic recovery is the fact that manufacturing did not really recover; instead, jobs went offshore. Academia has stigmatized working with your hands. People are under-employed with their college degrees, and they are always looking for a better, more skilled, higher paying job.
Tom Finneran (Moderator): What is your key advice to state leaders on workforce development?
Mr. Lugo: Put the money where the impact is. Implement policies to allocate funds across all the stakeholder entities. Use federal and local workforce funding in a coordinated way across the community college system.
Mr. Salgado: Pay for outcomes, not for seats in the classroom. Measure “entry into the workforce” as the critical outcome.
Mr. Wilson: Increase employer engagement in skills training. Reform education to produce more effective outcomes. Get better data on the education and training systems so you can see what works.
The Senate Presidents’ Forum heard presentations on several programs that have successfully prepared students to enter and succeed in the workforce. Gary Hoachlander, President of ConnectEd, The California Center for College and Career, Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser, of Long Beach, California’s Unified School District, and Robin Willner, Staff Director of New York State’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) Leadership Council, described how their programs connect education to workforce preparedness.
Dr. Hoachlander reminded the Forum of the emergency in US education, noting that each day, 7,000 students drop out—one every 26 seconds. Nearly 25% won’t finish high school. For students of color, including Latino and African American students, that number can go as high as 40%. A high school diploma makes a significant difference. There is very little opportunity available for high school dropouts, who make up the majority of incarcerated youth and adults. Each year, dropouts cost the nation more than $320 billion in lost lifetime earning potential. This is a most intolerable situation, Dr. Hoachlander said.
Revamping the high school system and increasing the graduation rates bring great economic and social benefits, he said. But more math, science, English, and social studies without relevance won’t engage today’s students. We have to change the way we deliver instruction by making it more applied, relevant, and rooted in real-world experience, he urged.
An advocate for strong career and technical education, Dr. Hoachlander oversees the Career Pathways Linked Learning program, which combines challenging academics with hands-on technical learning to prepare students for both college and career success. Students are prepared to take advantage of the full range of post-secondary options, from university and community college, to apprenticeships, certificate programs, military, and direct employment.
Delivery models for Linked Learning vary widely, including Career Pathways within comprehensive high schools; small, themed learning teams and themed high schools, and schools with a special focus such as High Tech, New Tech, or Big Picture schools. All schools provide a comprehensive 4-year program of study integrating 4 key learning components: a college-prep core emphasizing real-world applications; a technical core of courses meeting industry standards and leading to certification; work-based learning. Additional supports, such as academic, social-emotional, college and career guidance, and transportation help to ensure greater success for the student.
Christopher Steinhauser is Superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), California’s third largest, with about 83,000 students. McKinsey & Company named his district one of the world's 20 leading school systems—and one of the top 3 in the US. Despite budget cuts, LBUSD students, 70% of whom receive free and reduced-price lunches, 25% of whom are on welfare, and 5,000 of whom are homeless, recently earned a record $52.5 million in college scholarships. Seven of Long Beach’s high schools in 2012 were ranked among the top 9% in the nation by the Washington Post. Mr. Steinhauser attributed the district’s success to Linked Learning. “The Common Core is what we teach,” Mr. Steinhauser said, “and Linked Learning is how we teach it.”
He added, “In the past, students were not excited about what they were learning; they did not see the applications to real life. Now they see the applications, for example, of geometry in building trades, or physics in the radiation center at the hospital, or metrics, as a group of students launched rockets with NASA scientists to test ceramics.” LBUSD students pick from a rich array of Linked Learning Pathways that combine academic subjects with workplace exposure spanning from Agriculture and Natural Resources, Building and Environmental Design, Business, and Health Sciences to Information Technology, Manufacturing, and Finance, among others. Graduates qualify for a free semester at Long Beach Community College, and California State University guarantees enrollment for LBUSD students who meet its criteria.
Pathways integrate rigorous academic instruction with demanding technical proficiencies and field-based learning. Student Outcome Charts reflect what students should know and be able to do upon completing the course sequence for that program. These outcomes reflect proficiencies above and beyond the academic-content standards required by the district, state, and federal government. The program is designed to build knowledge, competence, and character traits that help students to be ethical decision makers, adaptable and productive citizens, critical and innovative problem-solvers, effective communicators and collaborators, and college- and career-ready scholars. LBUSD’s 90% graduation rate and college and career success indicate that its innovative design is helping students to achieve these goals.
Robin Willner is Staff Director for the New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School program or P-TECH. P-TECH, in its fourth year of operation, is a novel school design for students in grades 9-14 to secure a high school diploma that meets the Common Core State Standards, an Associate's Degree in Applied Science, and the workplace learning necessary for success in today’s careers.
Ms. Willner shared data showing that the education gap is threatening economic security for many Americans. Those with a college degree will earn $1 million more than those with a high school diploma over a lifetime. In 2012, unemployment rates for those without a high school diploma were 80% higher than average. An Associate's Degree slashed the unemployment rate in half compared to those without a high school diploma. Weekly earnings for those with an Associate's Degree were 66% higher than for those without a HS diploma. Only 36% of job openings do not require at least some postsecondary education and only one-third of those jobs pay more than $35,000 per year.
P-TECH is a response to this challenge. The program redesigns grades 9-14 to prepare students for the 29 million “middle jobs,” the fast-growing job opportunities in the health, technology, manufacturing, and finance sectors, that have the highest demand for postsecondary education. P-TECH’s Early College High School models offer students opportunities to experience postsecondary education and earn credits toward a degree. Students gain early workplace experience within a college-going culture. An extended school year—with more months and a longer day—allows adequate time for academic study as well as mentoring for professional development.
Key benefits for students include a rigorous, relevant education for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) careers; workplace learning, including worksite visits and internships; individualized support and pathways; a cost-free Associate of Applied Science Degree in a high-tech field; and preference for jobs with business partners after graduation.
NYS P-TECH also develops programs in high-wage, high-skill, high-demand career areas. It aligns school, college, and community systems to support strong academic performance, to promote appropriate career choice and preparation, and to ensure that employers have access to a talented and skilled workforce. P-TECH’s students are motivated and primed for success in their fields.
Eric B. Lugo, Vice President in Global Philanthropy, is currently responsible for the local implementation and communication of the global philanthropic strategy at JP Morgan Chase & Co. In this capacity, Eric oversees grant-making activities, along with coordinating efforts across various stakeholders, including internal senior business partners, nonprofit organizations, public-sector officials, and clients.
Eric is a member of the Nuestro Futuro: Latino Heritage Endowment Steering Committee at the Chicago Community Trust, a member of the Thrive Chicago Council on Opportunity Youth with the City of Chicago Office of the Mayor, and a member of the Chicago Council at the United Way of Metro Chicago. Eric received his Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Latina/Latino Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and earned Master’s Degrees in Business Administration and in Integrated Marketing Communications from Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business. He currently resides in Stone Park, Illinois.
Juan Salgado has been the President and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino since 2001. Over the last 13 years, Juan has led the Instituto through a period of national-award-winning recognition and historic organizational growth spurred by a focus on creating partnerships, enhancing core competencies, leading innovation, providing quality services, and participating in targeted advocacy. Under his direction, the Instituto has established national best-practice educational and workforce models and earned the 2009 National Council of La Raza Affiliate of the Year.
In 2011, the White House recognized Juan as one of 13 people nationally serving as Champions of Change for social innovation in their communities. Juan holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Illinois Wesleyan University. He received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Illinois Wesleyan University and is a recent graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management Program.
Bryan Wilson is the State Policy Director at the National Skills Coalition (NSC), leading the NSC’s efforts to assist state-based coalitions and policymakers in the development of policy proposals. He also provides assistance with policy implementation and measuring the impact of policy changes.
Prior to joining the NSC, Bryan was the deputy director of Washington state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, which oversees both the Evergreen State’s workforce development and career- and technical-education programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels. He also held policy posts in the Washington state governor’s office and in the state House of Representatives. Bryan has a Doctoral Degree from Rutgers University.
Gary Hoachlander is president of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Beginning his career in 1966 as a brakeman for the Western Maryland Railroad, he has devoted his professional life to helping young people learn by doing — connecting education to the opportunities, challenges, and many different rewards to be found through work. Widely known for his expertise in career and technical education, high school improvement, Linked Learning, and many other aspects of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, Gary has consulted extensively for the U.S. Department of Education, state departments of education, local school districts, foundations, and a variety of other organizations. He earned his B.A. degree at Princeton University and holds a Master’s and Ph.D. degree from the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley.
Christopher J. Steinhauser has served as superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District since 2002. The school district is California’s third largest, with about 83,000 students. With more than 30 years of experience in Long Beach’s diverse school system, Steinhauser has earned a national reputation for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps. His school district has earned the national Broad Prize for Urban Education and has qualified as a finalist for the award five times. In a 2010 report, McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counselor to many of the most influential businesses and institutions in the world, named the Long Beach Unified School District one of the world's 20 leading school systems — and one of the top three in the U.S. — in terms of sustained and significant improvements.
Robin Willner is Staff Director for the NYS P-TECH Leadership Council, coordinating the statewide replication of this new 9-14 school design for students to secure a high school diploma that meets the new Common Core State Standards, an AAS degree and the workplace learning necessary for success in 21st century careers. On behalf of the critical partners —- NY State Education Department, State University of NY, Business Council and the Governor's office — will support implementation and continuous improvement of the model for 10 new communities, new industries and new careers.
Ms. Willner has served on the Boards of Directors of Grantmakers for Education and the Center for Education Policy and the National Academy of Engineering’s K12 Task Force and led the Design Principles Committee for Change the Equation.
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