On Thursday, Nov. 20 a group of state legislators and education officials met with staff from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.  An update on the Administration's priorities, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and critical early education initiatives were discussed.

The language of workforce development is changing and the federal government’s shift in focus presents both some big opportunities and challenges for states. In July, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—also known as WIOA. It was a reauthorization of the legislation formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The act requires regional and statewide collaboration between workforce development programs, industry leaders and educators. Each state will be required, beginning July 1, 2016, to submit a four-year unified strategy that identifies skills gaps with employers and how the state is going to close those gaps.

President Barack Obama in July signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is designed to help individuals seeking employment access the needed education, training and support services to be successful in the labor market. This complimentary CSG eCademy session offers an overview of the federal law and its impact on states and explores innovative career pathway programs currently in place.

On October 1-3, 2014, the Policy Academy on Using Education Data to Improve Workforce Development brought together stakeholders from key states to facilitate discussion about the potential benefits of engaging with the research community when enacting and implementing state policy. The goal was to engage in nonpartisan conversation to utilize education data in creating effective policy to help students graduate with the skills to be workforce-ready.  

Education data and workforce data are both important for state workforce development efforts, but Dane Stangler believes getting people to recognize that is difficult. “How do we persuade people, how do we talk to people about why data is important?” Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, said during a recent CSG policy academy, “Using Education Data to Improve Workforce Development.”

The Department of Labor has awarded $14,837,785 in grants to six states - California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and South Dakota - to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities as part of the Disability Employment Initiative. The initiative awards grants to help increase the participation of adults and youth with disabilities in existing career pathway systems and other programs that bring together educational insitutions, the private sector and disability advocates. 

The recent New York Times article entitled “Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost” portrays the Workforce Investment Act – recently reauthorized as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – in a rather negative light, claiming that “many graduates wind up significantly worse off than when they started.” After extensive review of public records and interviews, the Times article presents a compelling case for greater accountability at the federal and state level for workforce training programs.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—The UPS headquarters in Louisville, Ky., has found a way to attract good workers and connect those workers to higher education. UPS/Metropolitan College covers the cost of tuition, books and academic bonuses to employees who work in the UPS overnight air operation while they’re attending school. The company partners with the University of Louisville, one of the largest universities in Kentucky, and the Jefferson County Community and Technical College to offer the program, Nick D’Andrea, director of state government affairs for UPS, told attendees at the Aug. 13 session, “Linking Education, Workforce Development for More Competitive States,” during the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

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Over the past two years, a big change has occurred in high schools across the state of Kansas. More and more students are getting a head start on their future careers and their postsecondary studies — by enrolling in and completing courses in career and technical education, or CTE. The rates of growth in the state are striking.

Alabama Rep. Mac Buttram thinks it’s about time people start thinking about career and technical education in a different way. Buttram recently was appointed to Gov. Robert Bentley’s new Alabama Workforce Council. The council, comprised primarily of state business leaders, is designed to help K-12 and higher education institutions in the state better meet the needs of businesses and industries. He was one of the featured speakers at CSG’s Policy Academy on Workforce Development, held Aug. 9 at the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference in Alaska.

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