Written By Gabriel Moss and Ken Poole
The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board met on September 18 to receive recommendations from four Working Groups. One of those groups focused on the importance of data to the nation’s workforce system. The Board’s Data Transparency Working Group presented several ideas tied to two key focus areas: (1) Modernizing O-Net with a new flexible ontology for skills that could be used to drive data collection and analysis and (2) Developing a new trusted system to share aggregated and individual workforce data. The Working Group, co-chaired by Eric Holcomb, Governor of Indiana, and Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP, included LMI Institute Board member and National Association of State Workforce Agencies director, Scott Sanders. The group focused on three key priorities: (1) improving workforce data assets so that skills data can become readily useful, (2) creating learning records that connect education, experience, and affiliations to present a more coherent picture about individuals’ capabilities, and (3) break down data sharing barriers.
The Working Group encouraged with American Workforce Policy Advisory Board to develop consensus on an interoperable digital learning record that includes data about traditional education attainment, non-traditional learning pathways, experience, professional affiliations, and other certifications to help job seekers attain high-wage jobs. The Working Group presented a white paper identifying interoperable learning records (IRLs) as a novel and achievable method for connecting data about workers, employers, and educational and training institutions. The Working Group also recommended the adoption of limited, defined scope pilot programs to test IRL ideas for widespread adoption.
This widespread adoption will be enabled by the implementation of the Working Group’s three core policy recommendations: (1) create an inventory of current or planned projects and initiatives that relate to ILRs, (2) convene an expert group to develop an ILR project plan, and (3) champion fast-track prototyping among stakeholders in the ILR ecosystem to quickly bring a “minimum viable product” to market.
The first of these recommendations, the creation of an IRL inventory of current projects and initiatives, will be crucial in scaling and partnering between stakeholders to build an IRL ecosystem. For organizations and individuals engaged in this field, this inventory could mean increased opportunity for collaboration and coalition-building. Such a tool will be a boon to administrators as well as stakeholders, connecting communities and establishing a common ground and lexicon.
The proposed expert group will ensure the adoption of best practices and enterprise scale solutions through the piloting and roll-out of IRLs. The Working Group recommends these experts in policy, governance, and IRL-related technologies offer stakeholders the opportunity to ensure that the policies adopted at the federal level reflect their real, material experience in the field. These experts would identify those features and content required in an IRL minimum viable product (MVP) and ecosystem.
The report recommends the adoption of fast-track prototyping among stakeholders in order to scale up an IRL MVP as quickly as possible. The goal is to bring a solution to market by Q2 2020 in order to demonstrate IRL’s potential and begin realizing the benefits to American employers and learners. There is a tremendous need for increased transparency and uniformity in the nexus of transferable skills. IRLs promise to be this transparent bridge; bringing them to market as quickly as possible may be highly beneficial to workers and employers alike.