Industries in every state are struggling to find qualified applicants for jobs, while job seekers too often find they lack the skills needed to enter or move along a career pathway to a good job. Preparing a workforce that is poised to meet the needs of businesses and ultimately to make the state more economically competitive is a top priority for many governors. Therefore, many of them are exploring ways to scale—increase opportunities for—high-quality, demand-driven work-based learning as a proven way to prepare their citizens for the modern workforce.
Policy Academy on Scaling Work-Based Learning
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), with support from the Siemens Foundation, is assisting states in scaling quality work-based learning programs for youth and young adults in STEM-intensive industries (those in the science, technology, engineering and math areas) such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and energy.
In Phase I of the project, the NGA Center engaged six competitively selected states (Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and Washington) in this work. The six initial states achieved significant milestones in their efforts to scale quality work-based learning, including:
- Launching statewide initiatives to raise awareness of work-based learning and embed these programs into education and training systems;
- Securing state funding to support the expansion of work-based learning programs for educators and workers; and
- Developing online portals to share information about work-based learning opportunities with state residents.
In Phase II of the Policy Academy, the NGA Center will continue supporting Phase I states as they implement their efforts to scale work-based learning. The NGA Center will select a new cohort of policy academy states in fall 2017, and those states will have opportunities to learn from Phase I states about the most effective policy and practice changes that can support work-based learning at scale. The duration of Phase II of the policy academy is July 1, 2017 through May 31, 2019.
Apprenticeship: Comprehensive Support Program for the American Apprenticeship Initiative Grantees
In today’s economy, there are fewer well-paying jobs and career opportunities for individuals with a high school education or less. Registered Apprenticeship combines learning in the classroom with paid, on-the-job training. It helps workers build skills they need to enter high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and it helps employers build a qualified workforce. Despite the documented promise of Registered Apprenticeship, participation remains small in the United States compared to global peers. To increase participation in apprenticeship, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched the American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grants in September 2015 to expand Registered Apprenticeship into a broader range of industries and increase participation by non-traditional populations. The program awarded $175 million in grants to 46 grantees, including states, regional partnerships and localities.
To support that historic effort, the NGA Center is providing comprehensive support and assistance to all AAI grantees in partnership with DOL, with additional support from the Siemens Foundation. The NGA Center’s technical assistance program supports grantees through the critical start-up and early implementation stages of their grants, to help position grantees for sustained success. The NGA Center is also documenting grantees’ best practices to ensure the initiative helps inform broader efforts to expand apprenticeship.