Career Pathways On the Move!

The Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL) continue our exciting work together around career pathways – both systems building and programs.  In April of 2014, we issued a joint Request for Information (RFI) to get information and recommendations about career pathways from stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

A diverse group of 141 respondents from across the nation commented.  We received information about existing career pathways systems, roles and responsibilities of career pathways partners, connections to economic development strategies, how pathways systems are funded, how participant outcomes are measured, and how providers ensure that pathways stay current with labor market trends.

CP RFI report image

Career Pathways Summary of Responses to a Request for Information

An interagency team has been reviewing and analyzing the responses and is pleased to share a summary report with overarching themes from the RFI.  The report includes facilitators and barriers to career pathway(s) development and implementation.  It also includes promising practices and recommendations for what federal, state, tribal, and local agencies can do to support the successful development of career pathways systems in light of recent developments such as the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  The report concludes with an overview of key opportunities, including:

  • Service to Diverse Populations
  • Increased Funding
  • Technical Assistance
  • Greater Flexibility
  • Support for Research

Career pathways are a required activity for state and local workforce development boards, and WIOA encourages their implementation throughout the new law.  This increased support for career pathways is guiding a comprehensive update and enhancement to the existing career pathways framework and Career Pathways Toolkit.

Yesterday, as part of the enhancement process, DOL, in partnership with the interagency team, hosted a Champions meeting, with those recognized as a champion in the implementation of a Career Pathways System in their state, locality, or tribe, to get valuable input on draft revisions to the Career Pathways Toolkit.  The champions provided their feedback as well as any innovations, creative approaches, and evidence-based practices they have developed since the publication of the last version of the Toolkit in 2011.

Please know that the information shared through the RFI and yesterday’s Champions meeting will be used to inform technical assistance efforts, funding opportunities, policy discussions, and other activities to support the development of career pathways systems.   So, stay tuned by staying engaged with the Moving Forward with Career Pathways project.

Students Showcase Career and Technical Education and STEM to Congress

Photo of two students in lab coats describe their biomedical program to Mark Mitsui from OCTAE while standing in front of their exhibit table.

Students from Washington County Technical High School, Maryland, explain their biomedical program to OCTAE Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mark Mitsui.

Students from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia demonstrated the role of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEM in preparing students for college and careers. The event was co-hosted by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and the Senate CTE Caucus. OCTAE attended the event which was held in a science fair-style format and provided an opportunity for students to explain their work and how it has prepared them for their future as professionals. Exhibits featured advanced technical skills in biosciences and robotics to engineering and computer programming, as well as employability skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking and creative problem solving that students are obtaining through their programs.

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Robin Utz serves as the chief for the College and Career Transitions branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE) for Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the US Department of Education.

Creating a Clear Path to Better Jobs for Low-Skilled Workers Stuck in Front-line Positions

America is creating millions of jobs. But, too many of these jobs go unfilled – five million to be exact. At the same time, there are roughly 8.7 million Americans looking for work and 24 million front-line workers who could fill these jobs, if they had the skills or were given the opportunity.

As the economy continues to improve, more and more employers struggle to find skilled workers with the requisite skills to fill in-demand jobs. At the same time, between twenty and thirty million workers in low-wage jobs – many of whom could be trained to fill more skilled roles – lack a clear path to a better job and career. According to the OECD, these workers are about half as likely as their high-skilled colleagues to participate in any job-relevant education or training over the course of the year. These workers need expanded opportunities and lowered barriers to gain both basic and technical skills.

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, the President called on employers across the country to adopt or expand additional measures to help front-line workers gain the training and credentials to advance into better paying jobs – including paying for college education, offering on-the-job training for career progression, and increasing access to technology-enabled learning tools. The day after, the President’s first stop and appearance was at Boise State University in Idaho where he launched an “Upskill America” initiative:

Today, we’re partnering with business across the country to “Upskill America” — to help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t have a higher education.  We want to recruit more companies to help provide apprenticeships and other pathways so that people can upgrade their skills.  We’re all going to have to do that in this new economy.  But it’s hard to do it on your own, especially if you’re already working and supporting a family. 

Many employers have already developed promising approaches to training and credentialing for upskilling front-line workers as part of successful talent strategies. And, we know that many others see the opportunity to benefit their workforce and bottom lines through investments in the skills of their front-line workers. This challenge creates a great opportunity for business, industry, labor, and government to team up and find and support a solution together.

The Administration is working with employers to identify and spread best practices for education, training and credentialing of front-line workers to help with their job progression. Examples of these practices are employers paying for their front-line workers’ college education, identifying clear internal pathways, providing career counseling and coaching, offering on-the-job training that leads to career progression, and providing access to online and technology-enabled education tools so workers can develop their basic and technical skills.

In the coming months, businesses of all sizes will be convened, as well as foundations, education and training non-profits and other partners who are committing to make new investments, to collectively set new goals and change policies that will enable low-skilled front-line workers to progress into better-paying jobs and help employers meet their current and projected unmet demand for skilled labor.

This effort to improve the skills of front-line workers builds on the actions Vice President Biden presented to President Obama on July 22, 2014 as part of his report Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity. In his 2014 State of the Union address, the President had tasked Vice President Biden with leading a review of federal employment and training programs, with the aim of making them more job-driven. Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity highlights successful job-driven training strategies, details executive actions that are being taken by the federal government, and new commitments by employers, non-profits, unions and innovators to help spread what’s working. As indicated in the release of the Ready to Work report, if you’re ready to work, you should be able to find a job that fits your skills, or get trained with the skills you need for a better job.

In November 2014, U.S. Secretary of Labor Perez launched The Skills Working Group, an interagency effort to maintain focus and attention around interagency, collaborative efforts of the Job-Driven Training Initiative, as well as emerging opportunities around cross-agency skills coordination. Thirteen federal agencies, the White House National Economic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget make up The Skills Working Group including the departments of Labor, Education, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Energy, Defense, Justice, Interior, and the Social Security Administration. The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education has been an active contributor to this work and leads the career pathways and upskilling work streams.

I find it inspiring to see businesses and labor-management initiatives expand access to training and provide supports for Americans to access pathways into the middle class. CVS Health, for example, is expanding access to job-advancement training for their employees by launching two new regional learning centers that will serve thousands of additional employees in the next two years. This builds on the six regional learning centers CVS Health currently operates in partnership with community colleges and other community service organizations, to help support thousands of workers as they build customer service- and healthcare-related job skills for career progression. The Upstate NY 1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund started C.N.A. training in the Syracuse (Central NY) area three years ago for incumbent SEIU members to allow lower level workers (dietary and housekeeping) to move up the career ladder.  Since this initiative was not always able to fill this program with incumbent workers, they started drawing on people from the community.  Community participants are funded through grants.

It is also exciting to see how many opportunities the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides for businesses – in partnership with adult education and youth and adult training providers or otherwise – to ensure that our nation’s workforce is ready to work and remains highly skilled and competitive. Whether it is through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act – Title II of WIOA – or through any of the other core programs, WIOA can play a critical role in achieving the goals of UpSkill America. Here are just a few ways that WIOA can do this:

  • Employer partnerships with education providers are eligible entities under Title II. This creates opportunities for employers and providers to team up and offer foundation skill development opportunities for low-skilled workers looking to get ahead. Learn more at a new, interactive site designed to support employer-adult education partnerships.
  • Employers can take advantage of increased access to work-based training. WIOA provides the ability for local workforce investment areas to help employers train their workers.
  • WIOA also increases reimbursement available for on-the-job training from 30 percent to 75 percent.
  • Businesses, under WIOA, can collaborate with American Job Centers, community colleges, and adult education providers to develop integrated education and training programs—including Registered Apprenticeships—at the workplace to help employees gain basic and technical skills and advance to the next level of work. Further, this collaboration can support regional sector strategies and the development of career pathways that support job seekers and help meet the needs of employers.
  • WIOA places a great emphasis on serving out-of-school youth. The new law requires local communities to spend at least 75 percent of available youth funding, or approximately $500 million, on this population. This provision goes into effect July 1, 2015. By partnering with the public sector to provide apprenticeships, internships, summer jobs, and other on-the-job training experiences, businesses can help the nation maximize opportunities for disconnected youth and young adults and build a skilled workforce.

The UpSkill America initiative, the implementation of WIOA, the modernization and expansion of apprenticeships, and the implementation of the executive actions in the Ready to Work report are all contributing to the momentum that is building in our country to make sure that all Americans have the skills that employers need and that will allow them to get ahead.

 

Johan E. Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Public Comments Received on Career Pathways

On April 23, 2014, the Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL) issued a Request for Information on Adoption of Career Pathways Approaches for the Delivery of Education, Training, Employment, and Human Services in the Federal Register. The request asked commenters to respond to 13 different questions regarding the design and implementation of career pathways systems. The comment period closed on June 9, 2014 and generated an impressive 142 public comments.

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Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
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Policy Analyst, OCTAE
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Director, Policy, Research, and Evaluation Services Division, OCTAE

Wisconsin Hosts Program of Study Framework Webinars

The Wisconsin Advanced Manufacturing Pathway Educational Network, or WAMPEN, is hosting a series of three free webinars to help educators and administrators better understand the ten components of the Program of Study framework. Staff from the WAMPEN project will share their experiences implementing the framework to better serve students and manufacturers in Wisconsin.

The first webinar, scheduled for September 25, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm Central Time, will provide an overview of the WAMPEN project and the ten components of the Program of Study Framework.

Upcoming webinars topics include integrating literacy in manufacturing curriculum on October 30, and integrating math instruction in manufacturing curriculum on December 4, 2014.

There is no need to register or RSVP and you can connect to the webinar at http://breeze.fvtc.edu/wampen and also use the link to test your connection in advance.

WAMPEN is one of six projects funded under OCTAE’s Promoting Rigorous Programs of Study(RPOS) discretionary grant program in 2010. You can find more information about the WAMPEN project on their website and download a flyer with the dates and times of all three webinars.

Federal Agencies to Host Live Stream Dialogue on Career Pathways

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will host a National Dialogue on Career Pathways.  Federal agency leaders from each Department will provide opening remarks on the impact of building effective career pathways can have on our nation’s workforce system.  In addition, the Dialogue will highlight strategies and lessons learned from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders.   Among the featured speakers will be

  • Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
  • Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education
  • Mark Greenburg, Acting Assistance Secretary for Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families
  • David L. Casey, Vice President for Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark
  • Maura Banta, Director of Global Citizenship Initiatives at IBM USA

National stakeholders representing business, organized labor, education, workforce and health and human services agencies are encouraged to host events in conjunction with the broadcast.   To help organize the event, a national Viewing Party Guide is now available.  Leading career pathways states and local areas, such as Colorado, Kansas, and Charlotte, NC will be highlighted as well as innovative career pathways practices from organizations like Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, IL and Wider Opportunities for Women.

The National Dialogue will be broadcast via live stream beginning at 9:00 AM EDT and end at 4:00 PM EDT.  Before and during the event, you are encouraged to post questions on Twitter using the hashtag #careerpathways. The federal team will monitor your questions on Twitter and respond to them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during the event.

Sign up now to get email alerts from the new Career Pathways Exchange, a project funded by OCTAE to support states’ work on career pathways.  This email-based information service will connect interested stakeholders with career pathways-related resources, news, and events from a wide network of federal agencies and partner organizations. Members can select to receive email digests on their topics of interest, including: Building Cross-agency Partnerships, Identifying Sector/Engaging Employers, Designing Programs, Identifying Funding Needs, Aligning Policy and Programs, and Measuring System Change and Evaluations.

Suggested Social Media Posts for the National Dialogue:

Pre-event post: Join @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov on 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET for a live stream plenary on #careerpathways.

Pre-event post: On 9-23 @ 9:00 AM ET, @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov will speak live about job-driven #careerpathways. Don’t miss it!

Day-of post: Join business leaders @cvscaremarkfyi’s David Casey and @IBM’s Maura Banta today via live stream @ National Dialogue! #careerpathways

Day-of post:  America, let’s talk about #careerpathways today!  Share your thoughts with us @USDOL @usedgov and @HHSGov.  Join the Dialogue.

Renewing Economic Opportunity for All

UPDATE September 22, 2014: In recognition of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 22-28, 2014, we revisit this blog post recognizing the role of adult education in the economic and social health of our nation. This week allows us to spotlight the many practitioners and volunteers who improve their communities through education and applaud the commitment of learners to improve themselves, their families and their communities through increased education, English proficiency, and workforce preparation.  Get involved and recognize Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in your community. Join the online celebration by including the #AEFLWeek and #AESuccess hashtags in your daily Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts.

“For the one million young men and women who are out of school and who are out of work, this program will permit us to take them off the streets, put them into work training programs, to prepare them for productive lives, not wasted lives […] It will help those small businessmen who live on the borderline of poverty. It will help the unemployed heads of families maintain their skills and learn new skills. ”

Photo of President Johnson signing the EOA in a ceremony in the White House rose garden surrounded by onlookers.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

These words were spoken by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 20, 1964 as he signed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA), a keystone of the “War on Poverty.” The EOA created several programs across a number of federal agencies that aimed to “eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this Nation by opening to everyone the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity.” EOA was a legislative milestone that highlighted the need for investments in high quality education for youth as well as adults. In addition to programs like Head Start, Job Corps, and VISTA, EOA authorized federal grants for adult basic education, which marked the beginning of federal statutory involvement in adult literacy. This Law set the stage for other crucial adult education legislation to address the issue of illiteracy such as the Adult Education Act of 1966 and the National Literacy Act of 1991.

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Department of Labor Career Pathways Webinar

On Wednesday, June, 4, 2:00-3:00 pm ET, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will host the latest event in its Eye on the Workforce Engagement Fund Stakeholder Engagement Series. Hosted by ETA Deputy Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow, the webinar, Advancing System Alignment and Career Pathways Innovations, will feature Workforce Innovation Fund grantees from California, Rhode Island, and Washington State. Mr. Seleznow will lead the panel in a discussion of emerging innovations in creating effective, integrated, and sustainable career pathways systems.

Registration is open and free.

Get engaged! Tweet questions for the panelists during the June 4 webinar to @USDOL using #workforceinnovation and post comments and questions about engaging business/industry and advancing career pathways on the bottom of the project web page.

If you missed the Department’s Innovating @ the Speed of Business live panel discussion in March, you can view it now.

Comment Period Opens on Career Pathways Systems

Add your voice! Tell us what works and where states need help to develop career pathways systems. The response period begins April 23 and will be open for 45 days. Save the date May 1 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT for a webinar for Q & A on this topic.

The departments of Education (ED), Labor (DOL), and Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced the release of a Request for Information (RFI) to support the development of high-quality career pathways systems. The RFI solicits information and recommendations from a broad array of stakeholders—those in the public and private sectors, as well as in state, regional, tribal, and local areas.

The RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the participating federal agencies.

As detailed in the RFI, “… ensuring robust economic growth, a thriving middle class, and broadly shared prosperity will require a significant expansion of the skills and knowledge of American workers over the next few decades.” To that end, ED, HHS, and DOL are exploring opportunities to improve the alignment of their programs at the state, tribal, and local levels so as to support robust career pathways systems. The three agencies will analyze the information collected through the RFI to inform and coordinate their policy development, strategic investments, and technical assistance activities and to improve the coordination of federal policy development with investments at the state, tribal, and local levels.

This RFI marks the first time that the three departments are jointly collecting and analyzing information on “…the benefits of and challenges to aligning diverse funding streams, programs, and stakeholders around career pathway systems; and the current and potential future use of career pathways systems to help at-risk populations gain skills and access the middle class.” At-risk populations identified in the RFI include low-income youths and adults, out-of-school youths, individuals with disabilities, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients, tribal communities, English learners, immigrants, rural populations, veterans, currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, dislocated workers, and trade-affected workers.

Career pathways systems are seen as a promising strategy for meeting the skills challenge by offering distinct but complementary workforce, education, and support services that are aligned with the needs of business and industry. These systems have also demonstrated promise for meeting the individual—and complementary—goals of the three federal agencies. This RFI builds on the 2012 joint letter to promote interdepartmental career pathways approaches and on related efforts across the federal government to improve the coordination and cost effectiveness of workforce investments and economic development.

As stated in the RFI, it is expected that the analysis period will not only deepen the departments’ shared vision and understanding of career pathways systems, but will also generate essential information that can “inform policy development and the next generation of investments and technical assistance by providing us with greater clarity on the facilitators and obstacles to career pathways systems development.”

RSVP for a webinar about the RFI will be held May 1 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT. (Must be logged into Workforce3One to register.)

Building Strategic Partnerships for Immigrant and Refugee Integration

A number of communities at the local and state level have been forward thinking about the ways to incorporate and integrate immigrants into civic and economic life. These states and localities have recognized that creating a welcoming environment, coupled with policy and programmatic reforms that provide access to immigrants and English learners is a win for everyone in the community.

Cities like Atlanta, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Dayton, Philadelphia and Nashville to name a few, have developed strategies on various aspects of immigrant integration integral to the success of their cities. Many of these municipalities have created strategies to compete globally for talent and as well as in the arena of economic development. 

In New York City, the New York Department of Youth and Community Development has engaged in an intentional plan to create educational opportunities for youth that could qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The New York Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment recently came out with a study of Immigrants’ use of financial services.

County governments like Montgomery County, Maryland and Santa Clara and San Mateo in California have partnered with philanthropy and the federal government to rethink systems for improving service delivery and policies that benefit the entire community.

In New York State, the New York State Office of New Americans has taken the significant step of creating a system of 27 neighborhood based Opportunity Centers throughout the state. The initiative seeks to increase access to English-for-Speakers-of-other-Languages (ESOL) training, preparing New Americans for the naturalization process, connecting New Americans to business resources to harness their entrepreneurial spirit, developing and leveraging the professional skills of New Americans, and reducing exploitation of New Americans by scammers and con artists through consumer protection initiatives. Below is one story about how the Opportunity Centers are being utilized.

Omar Omar
Last year, Omar Omar came to Syracuse as a refugee. Originally from Eritrea, a small country in the horn of Africa, he was forced to flee everything he knew due to the war and internal conflicts.
The first thing Omar did when he resettled was to go to the ONA Opportunity Center in Onondaga County to work on his English. Hosted by partners Catholic Charities Diocese of Syracuse, the ONA Opportunity Center provides immigrants English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL) training, naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) assistance, and entrepreneurial assistance. While Omar knew some English, he was seeking to improve his skills. Omar took advantage of the ONA Opportunity Centers unique blend of expert teachers, technology and volunteers in its ESOL training. Omar followed up his training by obtaining a library card so he could continue learning.
Omar was seeking a job, so he began working with the ONA Opportunity Center staff, asked for help from the volunteers, and applied for many jobs. When he found out that a new hotel was hiring, Omar asked an ONA Opportunity Center volunteer to help him with the on-line application, an application that took well over an hour to complete. Omar was given an interview and hired for a full time position in the housekeeping department. While Omar continues to study nursing, he must first obtain his high school equivalency diploma. Omar’s goal is to help people and he does so whether at the hotel, in the Eritrean community, his neighborhood, or ultimately in the health care field.

 

At the federal level, the Department of Education, the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, through a contract with World Education, Inc. and its three partner organizations (National Partnership for New Americans, IMPRINT, and Welcoming America) is identifying innovative immigrant integration models that will help us understand how adult education can 1) improve immigrants’ access to effective and innovative English language programs, 2) support immigrants on the path to citizenship, and 3) support immigrants’ career development through training and education. The project has  produced a descriptive framework on theoretically-sound immigrant integration practices. Place based initiatives will grow from this partnership in 2014 in several locations across the country that will benefit from the technical assistance on the creation of networks for immigrant integration.

These and other game changing initiatives take into consideration the circumstances of immigrant newcomers. As the debate on immigration reform continues at the federal level, states and localities are forging ahead, creating opportunities for immigrants to contribute and to help build their communities.

Johan Uvin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education