Highlights innovative practices from states that better align their education and workforce development systems with industry needs.

This policy brief identified a number of ways in which federal policy might better support the development of these initiatives. Some can be implemented within the WIA framework, whereas others lie outside of the WIA domain” (p.16). “[The authors] tried to answer [the following] questions:

• What innovations have occurred during the past decade in key states, and what were their most commonly observed characteristics? Do we know anything about the extent to which these innovations have been successful at addressing the skills needs of employers and workers?

• Can these innovations survive and prosper in the current and future economic and fiscal climates?

• How can federal policies be more supportive of such innovative efforts?” (p.4). (Abstractor : Author)


Major Findings & Recommendations

• American Reinvestment and Recovery Act dollars, “coupled with the loosening of training provider policies…enabled continued progress at the state and local level and likely increased the workforce system’s training and credential outcomes” (p.5). • “In several states, governors and state agency administrators were key agents of change in workforce policy…. Working with their elected officials and colleagues on the state and local level, these leaders pursued innovative solutions that included aligning funding from state workforce and human service agencies, passing enabling state legislation, designating the state’s share of federal WIA funding toward new innovations, aggressively seeking waivers from the United States Department of Labor, and aligning education and training programs with employer demand. Several states integrated and repurposed federal funding streams, changed education and training strategies for adult learners, and moved from a ‘work first’ approach towards a more integrated, training-focused system” (p.5). • "Innovation has been further shaped by state workforce agencies’ implementation of ―demand-drive policies such as sector partnerships and career pathways policies that engaged employers in identifying skills and credentials for the workplace" (p.4). • " While not significant enough to reverse the broader long-term trend of disinvestment in funding for workforce programs, coupled with the loosening of training provider policies, the infusion of funding through the Recovery Act enabled continued progress at the state and local level and likely increased the workforce system’s training and credential outcomes" (p.5). • “In several states, governors and state agency administrators were key agents of change in workforce policy.... Working with their elected officials and colleagues on the state and local level, these leaders pursued innovative solutions that included aligning funding from state workforce and human service agencies, passing enabling state legislation, designating the state’s share of federal WIA funding toward new innovations, aggressively seeking waivers from the United States Department of Labor, and aligning education and training programs with employer demand. Several states integrated and repurposed federal funding streams, changed education and training strategies for adult learners, and moved from a ‘work first’ approach towards a more integrated, training-focused system..... These states shifted from an emphasis on short-term, low-cost job training and job matching, to encouraging more workers to develop news kills and knowledge by earning the credentials needed by employers in the current and future labor market. Pennsylvania’s Industry Partnerships, Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind and Oregon’s Career Pathways all followed this path" (p.5-6). • "These and other state policy developments over the past 8 years centered around several key practices -- sector partnerships, career pathways, and innovative adult learning strategies -- all of which have shown promise in states that have adopted these reforms" (p.6). (Abstractor : Author)