November 2017 (Vol. 8, No.10)
California Program Looks for Solutions to Skills Gap
A statewide program known as “SlingShot” aims to improve career opportunities and fill needed jobs The program is part of an employment initiative through the Workforce Development Board (CWDB). It aims to solve regional employment challenges in California through partnerships among government, employers, schools and other groups.
The origins of the SlingShot program date back about five years, said Tim Rainey, CWDB's executive director. "We started out trying to solve a pretty big problem in the workforce system," he said.
There were a lot of programs around California administered by many different agencies—with little coordination among them, Rainey said. State government officials wanted to align the programs behind a common vision and common goals. In each of 12 regions in California, they challenged community colleges and workforce boards to reach out to industry and come up with a problem that needed to be solved. The state offered each region $1 million for their projects if they met certain requirements.
The program tries to connect workers to open jobs—or to jobs that are projected to be open in the future. "This is a connection of supply and demand," Rainey said. Other goals are to create more industry-valued credentials and more apprenticeships, he added.
The state has launched an evaluation of the SlingShot program, but the results aren't available yet.
Digital Promise Partners with Facebook to Offer Micro-credentials for Adult Learners
Digital skills are in high demand. According to a Burning Glass report, eight in 10 middle-skill level jobs require digital skills, such as online communication and productivity tools. Adult workers often do not have this training, and increasingly employers report difficulty finding qualified workers with digital middle skills. Unfortunately, this gap between digital skill level and skill need is expected to continue increasing over the next 10 years.
Various efforts are underway to address this digital skills gap, including bootcamps and other computer-science efforts. Most, however, are aimed at more advanced skills, not the middle skills that make up a sizable part of the current digital skills gap. In addition, the majority of the courses offered in these programs are long-form (lasting several months), in-class, and often cost-prohibitive.
Digital Promise worked with Facebook to create a set of micro-credentials (a form of digital badges) focused on helping adults in the workforce learn these “middle” skills in the area of digital marketing. The first set of workshops – Social Media Marketing from Facebook will roll out today with local partner Grand Circus, a Michigan coding and IT bootcamp provider.
Digital Promise will train organizations across the state to deliver the workshops to their local communities starting in November. Those organizations include SouthWest Solutions, BUILD Institute, SistersCode and ACCESS.
Facebook has pledged to train 3,000 Michiganders in digital skills focused on social media over the next two years through these workshops.
In the Social Media Marketing from Facebook workshop, students will learn the basics of social media marketing using Facebook and Instagram and have the opportunity to earn four micro-credentials that demonstrate the skills they have learned:
- Social Media Marketing Basics
- Marketing with Facebook Pages
- Marketing with Facebook Ads
- Marketing with Instagram
Over four weeks, students will develop a Facebook page and Instagram account for a local community organization or business of their choice; use that page to create awareness, drive traffic, and/or attract customers; and create advertising campaigns in support of that page.
Closing the digital skills gap will create job opportunities and a new pool of qualified applicants for employers nationwide. In addition to the launch happening today in Detroit, we’ll also announce that the workshops will be available in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday. This is big step forward and an exciting opportunity and we look forward to working with our esteemed partners to close the digital skills gap.
National Skills Coalition Releases State Policy Toolkit
Many states have enacted policies to increase the scope of work-based learning that combines instruction at a worksite with classroom learning. Few of these state policies, however, focus on low-skilled populations of out-of-school youth or disadvantaged adults. National Skills Coalition’s (NSC’s) scan, for example, found that among the 14 states that have policies supporting pre-apprenticeships or youth apprenticeships, all 14 states target in-school youth. While disadvantaged adults may be among those who benefit in the 26 states that have work-based learning policies that support adult training, very few of these policies specifically target disadvantaged adults.
NSC’s new policy toolkit on work-based learning for out out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults focuses on state policies designed to make work-based learning more widely available and successful for disadvantaged populations. The toolkit also emphasizes policies to make work-based learning more available and effective for small- and medium-size employers. The toolkit concentrates on work-based learning that combines instruction at a worksite during paid employment with classroom education, and that culminates in an industry-recognized credential. Workers in paid work-based learning programs obtain skills and credentials while earning a wage. This is especially important for disadvantaged individuals with immediate financial needs.
The toolkit contains:
- An explanation of the key policies that support the growth of work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults;
- Examples of current state policies and local practices that expand work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults; and
- A legislative template for state work-based learning policies that target out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.
Source: National Skills Coalition
Adults and Community College Degrees
Adults are coming to community colleges seeking a different approach to education, says Jim Jacobs, and that will require institutions to pay attention to a few important design features.
Most community colleges have adopted the mission of serving low-income, underprepared students who are in need of postsecondary education for any success in employment and earnings. There is growing consensus that this approach should encourage students to define a specific program of study at the outset of their college experience, with the college promoting strategic interventions to keep them on track to completing their program. But most of those initiatives are directed to students making the transition from high school to college, and little attention has been paid to applying this approach to the needs of working adults.
Public Agenda conducted a survey on perceptions regarding higher education in September 2016 and found public confidence waning, with just 42 percent of Americans believing that college is necessary for work-force success. That is a 13 percent drop in affirmative responses to the same question posed in 2009. And while a more recent poll conducted in February and March by New America found greater support for the potential of postsecondary education, only one-quarter of the respondents thought higher education was doing an adequate job.
These adults have come to college to build skills to seek better jobs. The majority have families who depend on them. As a result, they want effective and efficient education -- to take a few courses and then get back in the work force as quickly as possible. While this will present some challenges to the pathway efforts of colleges, any obstacles can be overcome with attention to a few important design features.
Source: Inside Higher Ed by Jim Jacobs, October 2017