Category Archives: Workforce

State Investment in Workforce Development on the Rise

Written by Jacob Stenstrom

When analyzing spending on workforce development activities as part of states’ overall economic development expenditures, there has been a substantial increase over the last decade. For the budget year covering 2020, states have committed to spending a total of $1.76 billion on workforce preparation and development. This is more than double the amount from 2011. This amount is separate from Federal funding that is provided through a variety of U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Education programs.  While the increase corresponds with an overall increase in economic development spending by states, the percentage allocated to workforce development rose from 11 percent to 13 percent. In calculating the amount of state investment, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) focuses on the amount states spent on education, training and recruitment of workers with programs concentrating on improving the skills base and job placement of a state and/or community’s labor base. For economic development, these programs are almost always employer or firm focused.

Figure 1

When looking at the increase in workforce spending on a per capita basis, workforce development programs increased from $2.30 to $5.30 per person between 2011 and 2020.  This at a time when Federal spending to support employment and training declined. The data is reflected in the Workforce Development Spending trendline and in the Comparison of Workforce and Economic Development State Spending, presented in Figure 1 and Figure 2. Growing state spending is a recognition by states that companies are in desperate need of skilled workers, at a time when the unemployment rate has been at historic lows.  This has prompted states to focus on workforce preparation and development efforts like customized training tailored to the specific needs of a business, apprenticeships, or relying on community colleges, universities, or private training providers to help build a talent pipeline for companies in particular industries like manufacturing.

Figure 2

The five states that spend the most  on workforce development are Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, California, and Alabama. Each state listed, except for Minnesota and New Jersey, saw significant increases in spending year-over-year. Workforce development spending is, therefore, a heavy investment in more than just coastal-urban states. Rural states such as Minnesota and Alabama are leaders in workforce development spending. Several of these top five states have engaged in creating, supporting, and expanding programs.

Minnesota’s FY2020-21 biennial budget proposed more funding for Youth and Young Adult workforce development programs. Minnesota provided state funding for the Youthbuild program, Youth at Work Competitive Grants, and a Youth Program offer a construction career pathway for at-risk youth and young adults who have dropped out of school, youth with industry-recognized credentials and pre-apprenticeship training in residential construction; and provide summer and year-round employment and training services to low-income and at-risk youth, ages 14 to 24, through a partnership with the Local Workforce Development Boards and Youth Committees. However, the Department of Employment and Economic Development proposed a 6 percent decrease in workforce development for FY2020-21.

New Jersey has enhanced and refocused its investment in workforce development and apprenticeship programs over the past two years. There was a 32% increase in funding for workforce development programs in FY2019. The vast increase in funding is the result of additional support being put into the state’s Manpower and Employment Services and the Work First New Jersey program. The focus of these funding increases being employment and training services, strengthening of workforce development programs in the state. FY2020 budget proposal continues that commitment to workforce initiatives.

California has proposed an 11% increase in funding for workforce development programs in FY2020. The Governor’s proposed budget has included increased investment for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and the state’s High Road Training Partnership program, a sector partnership initiative of the California Workforce Development Board.

For more information and updates, visit the C2ER State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database.

Call for Proposals: 2020 C2ER Annual Conference and LMI Institute Forum

The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) and the Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute are soliciting proposals for the next annual conference and forum, which will be June 3 – 5, 2020 in Columbus, OH. The theme is The Roaring 2020’s: Mobilizing Your Talent and Economy for the New Decade.

The upcoming conference and forum marks the 60th anniversary of the annual conference – to recognize this banner year and as we enter a new decade, we are interested in learning how researchers are moving local, regional, and state economies and their workforce forward.

To see specifics and submit your proposal – view the full RFP.

Eliminating Barriers for Youth in Apprenticeship Programs

Contributors: Anuradha Dhar, Allison Forbes

Apprenticeships are a promising solution to employer-reported “skills shortages” and an effective way to connect young adults to in-demand skills and jobs. But to live up to their promise, apprenticeship programs for young adults must more effectively reduce barriers to participation and completion, especially for students of color, according to a new report from the North Carolina Justice Center.

In the U.S., 10.9 percent of young adults of color (ages 16 to 25) are seeking work but unemployed, two percentage points more than the national average for this age group and four percent higher than their white peers (see the chart below). With unemployment at a sustained low nationwide, and employers clamoring for talent, these numbers reflect a disconnect between young adults of color and employers.

A typical apprenticeship program is sponsored by an employer, creating a direct link between training and employment. The North Carolina Justice Center report finds that even when youth apprenticeship programs are well designed, with employers engaged as program sponsors, paying wages and college tuition, a range of barriers can stop students of color from accessing, entering and completing these high-quality apprenticeship programs. The study specifically looked at county-level, locally led apprenticeship programs belonging to the Eastern Triad Workforce Initiative in central North Carolina.



Exposure and recruitment

Lack of early exposure can mean some students never hear about apprenticeship programs or have a chance to apply. Even when students hear about a program, they may decide the program is not for them because they don’t see anyone who looks like them. Career counseling staff, classroom instructors and other trusted advisors must be informed about these programs and encourage students of color to apply.

Parental skepticism is another barrier. Apprenticeships leading to technical, middle-skill jobs are often not recognized as a pathway to financial stability. The report notes that “many parents and their social networks see four-year college or joining the military as the only pathway out of poverty into middle class stability because it was the only path available to them.”


“Without an intentional effort to engage students of color they may never hear about apprenticeship because they were never informed, they may never apply because they were never recruited, and they were never recruited because they lacked a personal connection with a mentor or trusted teacher.”

– North Carolina Justice Center report


Student screening

To introduce students and their parents to the apprenticeship program, employers may host meet-and-greet events with students and parents at the work site. But some students and parents cannot attend due to lack of transportation, employment and family obligations. These challenges may be particularly acute for students of color due to historical wealth gaps.

Students are also subject to explicit screening criteria that may screen out otherwise qualified students of color. Stringent standards may not capture students’ full abilities and may shrink the talent pool over time. Additionally, GPAs may reflect deeper socioeconomic disparities and biases faced by students of color in schools. Other reports on youth apprenticeship, such as this one from New America, have raised similar concerns about minimum GPA and attendance requirements.

Pre-apprenticeships, full apprenticeships, and community college degree completion

Once selected for a program, apprentices must navigate workplace practices and balance family responsibilities. Students who contribute to family income may work multiple jobs and lack funds to buy appropriate materials for the job, and students of color are more likely to face these financial barriers. Additionally, students of color entering a majority white work environment may need help adapting to a new culture of work. Interpreting behavior at the workplace is particularly important to students of color, a finding also reported by the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Report.

Proactively connecting apprentices to mentors, financial supports and “wrap-around” support services (such as childcare or transportation) would help ensure that students of color from low-income families complete their programs to secure employment with their sponsoring company. It is worth noting that, in North Carolina, a state-sponsored tuition waiver is key to ensuring the affordability of youth apprenticeship programs. North Carolina’s tuition waiver allows apprentices to complete their degree for free, helping attract and retain students.

Read the executive summary from the North Carolina Justice Center. To learn more, join the C2ER webinar with report authors Allan Freyer and Allison Forbes on August 15.

 

Professional Certifications and Licenses Increase Earnings and Reduce Unemployment, New Data Shows

Written by Anuradha Dhar

At the end of June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the Department of Labor released a report on 2018 data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) on the role of professional certifications and occupational licenses in the U.S. labor market. Their most recent annual data was released in January 2019.

This data, produced since 2015, is the first to provide such comprehensive insights into the prevalence of certifications and licenses and related earnings. The Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute has been working with this data since 2015 to produce the State Certification and License Database, found here.

Certifications and licenses are credentials that demonstrate an individual’s competency related to a skill or knowledge used in performing specific jobs. Licenses are issued by a federal, state or local government agency; certifications are issued by nongovernmental certification bodies.

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Call for WIAC Nominations

Dear Economic and Workforce Development Leaders,

C2ER and the LMI Institute are collaborating with National Association of State and Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to facilitate nominations of State Labor Market Information (LMI) Directors, economic development leaders, Workforce Information Board representatives, academics, and business leaders to serve on the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC), which was created under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The WIAC is required to have 14 members, appointed by the Secretary of Labor, including four (4) State Workforce Agency LMI Directors, one (1) economic development leader, one (1) Workforce Board representative, one (1) academic researcher, and one (1) business leader.

Please consult the Federal Register Notice for detailed information on the membership of the WIAC, the nominations process, and the nomination requirements. A year ago, the WIAC successfully submitted recommendations to the Secretary of Labor for improving the nation’s workforce and labor market information. C2ER Board Chair, Jennifer Zeller of Georgia Power, and association member Andrew Reamer of George Washington University are among the original WIAC members who helped draft the recommendations.

Action Requested:  If interested, send your nomination materials to Ken Poole (kpoole@crec.net), C2ER and LMI Institute Executive Director, by Thursday, January 31, 2019. Required nomination materials include: a current resume or CV, cover letter, and contact information.

Thanks for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you.

Ken Poole

The Opportunity Atlas Collage

Just released to the public this week, Harvard researcher Raj Chetty and team, in conjunction with the Census Bureau have created an interactive tool to explore economic mobility at the neighborhood and Census Tract level – The Opportunity Atlas.

C2ER staff have enjoyed reading up on and playing with the new tool. The list below offers a collage of quick links to articles exploring the analysis it has to offer.

Find anything interesting to share using the tool? We’d love to hear from you!

The 58th Annual C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum Is Near

Join us in Atlanta for the 58th Annual C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum. Click here for the full agenda. For additional information, visit the Conference page. Hope to see you there!

 

State Data Sharing Initiative Reports Released!

We invite you to learn more about how to improve your economic and workforce development outcomes by using evidence to drive decision making.  The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) just released the report, “Advancing State Data Sharing for Better Economic and Workforce Development” and the tool “Legal Guide to Administrative Data Sharing for Economic and Workforce Development” that offer important lessons for states interested in enabling the responsible use of administrative records for program research and analysis.

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2017 LMI Institute Accomplishments

lmi accomplishments mapTechnical Training

  • Delivered two Basic LMI Analyst courses and one Applied Analyst training course.
  • Designed and delivered two customized courses on data visualization using Excel and Tableau.
  • Introduced a half-day course on “Analyzing and Developing Workforce Studies” at the 2017 LMI Institute Annual Forum.
  • Hosted a monthly webinar series attracting over 800 attendees.

LMI System & Program Support

  • In partnership with C2ER, launched the State Certifications and Licenses Data Tables to provide a state by state perspective on certifications and licenses.
  • Convened the 2017 LMI Institute Annual Forum in Denver, Colorado.
  • In partnership with CREC, engaged in the State Data Sharing (SDS) Initiative, to provide technical assistance to five states looking to shape data sharing processes for better policy and program evaluation.
  • Engaged LMI Institute state and affiliate members to address system needs.
  • Provided management and training support for the Projections Managing Partnership.
  • Hosted the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Household Dynamics Program’s monthly webinar series.
  • Served on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Data User Advisory Council (DUAC).

Research

  • Implemented research and technical assistance to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ (NASWA’s) National Labor Exchange, in partnership with CREC.

Partnership Facilitation

  • Fostered and continuously improved key partnerships with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), BLS, the NASWA LMI Committee, the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC), the Analyst Resource Center (ARC), the BLS / LMI Oversight Committee (BLOC).
  • Supported the WIAC by providing background information to the Council and serving as a subject matter expert for the committee on data sharing, governance, and funding for the workforce information system.

2017 C2ER Accomplishments

During the past 12 months, the Council for Community and Economic Research, YOUR professional membership organization, has been hard at work increasing the visibility of economic, workforce, and community research by advocating for higher quality data, promoting more focused public and private investments in local data, and continuing to strengthen C2ER products and services.  We keep you informed about new data sources, exciting research, and opportunities to learn.  Following are some of the most vital accomplishments during the past year.

Communication with Data Users and Producers

Publications: C2ER/LMI Institute Weekly Update and Journal

  • Modernized the weekly Update with a fresh look
  • Monitored and summarized emerging data issues, relevant events, and recent research
  • Distributed weekly Update to more than 8,000 individuals, including members and targeted stakeholders
  • Developed target updates to non-members to increase membership rates among current readers
  • Published blog posts on topics relevant to C2ER members, including C2ER events and economic development news and trend analysis (http://blog.c2er.org/)
  • Produced four specialized blog-formatted articles for the Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development on relevant issues to economic development analysts and practitioners

Annual Conference, Training and Certification

  • Coordinated C2ER Annual Conference, LMI Institute Annual Forum and the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) Summit for more than 240 attendees
  • Delivered in-person training courses:

Basic Labor Market Information Analyst

Foundations of Applied Economic Development Research

Intermediate Tableau for Economic and Workforce Developers

Leadership in Research Workshop

Analyzing & Developing Workforce Studies

New Census Tools 101

Applied Analyst Training

  • Conducted 24 webinars, reaching over 2,000 audience members
  • Certified three new Certified Community Researchers (CCR) in Quarter 4, 2017

Data Advocacy and National Visibility for C2ER Member Efforts

  • Served as member of BLS Data Users Advisory Committee
  • Collaborated with Friends of BLS and the Census Project in federal statistical advocacy efforts
  • Met periodically with key Census, BLS, and BEA leaders to improve regional data access
  • Represented the interests of statistical data users in meetings with Congressional staff during several visits to Capitol Hill, including organizing C2ER volunteers to contact Congress
  • Signed on to several letters advocating for proper funding for Census, BLS, and BEA
  • Provided input and technical assistance to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Data Collection and Research Activities

Cost of Living Index – C2ER’s flagship data product since 1968   http://www.coli.org

  • Remodeled and issued 2017 County and State Level Cost of Living Index
  • Improved the process of library application and added three non-COLI databases including the State Business Incentives Database, State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database, and C2ER Diversity Index Database
  • Conducted online data scraping for housing, grocery, and miscellaneous categories nationwide
  • Attended annual conferences for the American Library Association, Tableau, and Emsi to promote C2ER products and membership
  • Increased metro participation with eight new communities contributing data

C2ER State Business Incentives Database Update http://www.stateincentives.org/

  • Maintained and updated unique summary of around 1,800 state programs designed to help businesses create jobs with 2017-2018 state legislative changes
  • Added additional programs for all U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia
  • Renewed the partnership with SelectUSA at the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide content to international companies seeking U.S. facility locations
  • Updated the program manager contact list based on state agency feedback

C2ER State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database Update  http://www.stateexpenditures.org

  • Updated database for FY 2018 proposed expenditures, as well as FY 2016 actual and FY 2017 appropriated expenditures (when available), for all 50 states in the database
    • Updated 2,300 and added 1,100 more state economic development program expenditure records

Other Policy and Economic Research and Technical Assistance

  • Continued partnership on a two-year project on state data sharing laws, regulations and agreements for a project sponsored by Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • Assisted National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) with assessing the data analytic opportunities from the National Labor Exchange database of job openings data
  • Provided state incentives information to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce SelectUSA program
  • Conducted research on Current Population Survey microdata about the prevalence of credentials by education level, occupation, and other workforce characteristics
  • Launched the C2ER Tools of the Trade Database, an online resource for economic and workforce developers to identify data resources to guide their research