Virginia’s Forgotten Middle

Middle Skilled Jobs and Low Skilled, Low Literate, Entry Level Workers in the U.S.

• Middle skilled jobs require more than a high school education but less than a bachelor’s degree (e.g., associate degree, postsecondary certificate, apprenticeship, etc.)

• Comprise about half of all U.S. jobs. Historically, these jobs were available to those with a high school diploma (sometimes less), but changes in production and increasingly sophisticated technology now require more education and preparation for this growing group of jobs than ever before.
Additional education and training beyond high school is now the norm for access to middle skills positions.

– The Future of the U.S. Workforce: Middle Skills Jobs and the Growing Importance of Postsecondary Education, Achieve, Inc., September 2012

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The Skills Gap: Living wage work is available in all regions of Virginia, but not enough literate or trained workers are able to fill middle skilled job positions.

More than 175,000 middle skill job openings occurred in Virginia last year. Each job, on average, took 26 days to dill. That nearly month-long gap stripped businesses of more than 36 million hours of productivity; families of more than $1 billion in wages; and Virginia’s General Fund of an estimated $54 million in state income taxes.”

The Interest Gap: Too few people pursue these middle class careers because of outdated societal stigmas or they are unaware of them, how well they pay, the advancement opportunities they offer, or even how to secure the credentials necessary to pursue them.

The Affordability Gap: Financial aid is largely not available to Virginians pursuing short-term workforce training programs, despite evidence that they typically need it the most.

– Workforce Credentials: The Pathway to Virginia’s New Middle Class: Virginia’s Community Colleges, September 1, 2015

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Today’s Traditional Student Looks Like Yesterday’s Non-Traditional Students

traditional student

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released Demographic and Enrollment Characteristics of Nontraditional Undergraduates: 2011-12, a report with descriptive statistics about nontraditional undergraduate students. Nontraditional students have the following characteristics: they are independent, have dependents of their own, did not enter postsecondary education immediately after high school, and/or may be working while enrolled in school. The report presents key demographic, enrollment, and academic data from comprehensive, nationally representative surveys of nontraditional students. Click on image to enter the site.

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Throwing Down the Gauntlet for Professional Development

OCTAEIt is time to throw down the gauntlet for PD.  A serious conversation and commitment to Adult Education professional development is long overdue.  We should be talking more extensively and with higher-level commitment about the conditions we need to create for work and learning in our field, for the good of adult learners and our nation.  All the more so as we work together to prepare for a full and robust implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act…

Judging Adult Education Teacher Performance.  Very little national data is available by which to judge current teacher performance in Adult Education, but the data that is available shows enormous variation between and within states and local grantees on key performance indicators.  Depending on which state or local program they enter, adult learners face very different prospects for success. The likelihood that an adult learner will achieve a positive outcome in a given year can be three to four times higher in some states than in others, almost certainly due at least in part to differences in teaching effectiveness…

Many difficult questions face us at this juncture. For example, how can we take our efforts to scale? What service delivery training models should we choose?  Can we craft activities that are both efficient and effective? The New Teacher Project found that systemic district efforts did not significantly contribute to improvements in practice.  Are more personalized models needed for adult education? Are current job-embedded models providing the needed level of personalized support for educator growth?

Read the rest of the article at this link.

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Implementing WIOA: Proposed Information Collection

WIOA_Information CollectionThis recorded presentation of a  Workforce3One Webcast: Proposed Information Collection – Required Elements for Submission of the Unified or Combined State Plan and Plan Modifications Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, has been updated.

Find other recorded presentations and resources at this WIOA OCTAE site to assist stakeholders in understanding key provisions and changes in Title II, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act of WIOA.

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Health Literacy: What Others Are Doing

ama-logoThis Health Literacy Site from the American Medical Association has been designed to help programs build their own health literacy efforts. Ideas and activities are included from other national and state/regional groups as well as links to useful information.

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Apprenticeship Programs in Virginia: Some Information

 “There’s a hunger among young people for good, well-paying jobs that don’t require an expensive four-year degree,” said Sarah Steinberg, vice president for global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “The Apprentice School is the gold standard of what a high-quality apprenticeship program can be.”- Read the article about a Newport News apprenticeship program @ A New Look at Apprenticeships as a Path to the Middle Class, Nelson D. Schwartz, July 13, 2015, from the New York Times

Apprenticeship Information in Virginia:

The Virginia Registered Apprenticeship is a training system that produces highly skilled workers to meet the demands of employers competing in a global economy, through a combination of on-the-job training and theoretical classroom instruction. It is a “win-win” approach to workforce development for more than 13,000 apprentices (employees) throughout the Commonwealth.

Registered Apprenticeship connects job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers, resulting in a workforce with industry-driven training and employers with a competitive edge.

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Job Skills Guide

Illinois WorkNetThe Illinois WorkNet Center’s Job Skills Guide:

This site helps your adult students acquire the work skills employers want. Academic skills, technical skills, and workplace “soft” skills provide a solid base for getting into a career. Learn more about the skills and hear what employers have to say. The Job Skills Guide offers information on

  • Academic skills: Mathematics, Reading, Science and Technology, Writing
  • Technical skills and computer literacy
  • Industry-wide technical skills
  • Workplace Soft Skills
    • Attendance and self-presentation
    • Career advancement
    • Communications
    • Independence and initiative
    • Leadership and teamwork
    • Positive attitude
    • Problem solving
    • Understanding the big picture
    • Work ethic

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