Design and implement a combined planning process across key federal workforce development, education and employment programs. In 2020, states are required to submit WIOA two-year plans for 2021-23. States can elect to develop a combined plan that aligns plans, activities and use of funds for the six core WIOA programs with other key federal programs. In the current WIOA planning year, at least 15 states are submitting combined plans. When submitting these plans, states should consider prioritizing technological and digital skills resilience.

State Program Examples

  • Louisiana

    Combined State Plan

    In 2020, states are required to submit WIOA two-year plans for 2021-2023 to outline their planned delivery of programmatic resources across all WIOA programs. Louisiana prepared a relatively comprehensive WIOA 2021-2023 combined plan that aligns WIOA, Perkins V, TANF, SNAP E&T, JVSG, CSBG, SCSEP, and work programs under Section 6(d)(4) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. Leadership for this combined state planning came from the Office of Governor Edwards.

Establish a multi-stakeholder collaborative, such as a state office, task force or commission, with representatives from state agencies, labor, education, technology and industry, to explore key issues related the future of work and align state activities. As of January 2020, eight states had initiated task forces or other organized efforts to explore the impacts of technology on the workforce. These partnerships are critical in helping state and local leaders develop a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities present by technology, and for developing targeted policy and regulatory responses to meet the changing needs of workers and employers.

State Program Examples

  • New Jersey

    Future of Work Task Force

    New Jersey Governor Murphy signed in 2018 an Executive Order creating the Future of Work Task Force. In addition to industry and education partners, the Task Force is a partnership of the Governor’s Office, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, and the State’s Chief Innovation Officer. The Task Force is chaired by the Chief Innovation Officer, and is comprised of 25 state leaders across labor, industry, research, education and community organizations. One of the first actions of the Task Force was to announce a Request for Proposals soliciting original, data-driven research and analysis about the future of work in New Jersey, with a specific focus on four topics including: data on technologies impacting New Jersey, information on the populations most affected, anticipated effects on communities and transportation, and proposed opportunities to leverage technology to increase economic opportunities statewide.

  • Vermont

    Nation’s First AI Task Force

    In 2018, the Vermont Legislature passed a law requiring the creation of a fourteen-member Artificial Intelligence (AI) Task Force. Over a series of 15 meetings and public forums, the Task Force developed recommendations on the growth of Vermont’s emerging technology markets, and the use of artificial intelligence in State government. The Task Force released its report to the Final Report to the Senate Committee on Government Operations and the House Committee on Energy and Technology in January 2020.

  • California

    Executive Order to Establish Commission on the Future of Work

    Governor Newsom identified workforce preparation and equitable economic growth as a shared priority across the Administration, in response, in 2019 he signed an Executive Order to create a Future of Work Commission. The order tasks the group of 22 gubernatorially appointed commissioners to, among other things, “identify policies and practices that will help California’s businesses, workers, and communities thrive economically, while responding to rapid changes in technology and workplace structures and practices.” The governor also stipulated full state agency cooperation with the Commission’s work.

  • Washington

    Legislature Passed a Mandate to Create a Future of Work Task Force

    In 2018, Washington became the first state to mandate the creation of a Future of Work Task Force, with accompanying state funding. 6544 SSB charged the 16-member Task Force with creating a statewide policy framework that supports a talent development pipeline and lifelong learning. To increase the capacity of the Task Force, the Workforce Board was also allocated funding for two FTEs to oversee the Future of Work Project, including developing a set of annual recommendations to the legislature.

  • Indiana

    Governor's Workforce Cabinet

    Through a combination of state legislation and a waiver from the USDOL, Indiana replaced the state’s federally-mandated workforce development board with the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet in 2018. The waiver requested a smaller and more nimble cabinet with the authority to align resources, programs and partners, more direct employer engagement and added an expressed mission to prepare Hoosiers for jobs more efficiently, effectively and quickly. The Cabinet brings together state agency leaders from K-12, postsecondary, family and social services, economic development, workforce development, and corrections—along with employers, lawmakers and community leaders.  The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet recently submitted a new WIOA plan for public comment that will serve as the Cabinet’s strategic plan, guiding action for the next several years. The plan shifts Indiana’s talent development focus from programs to people, meeting all Hoosiers where they are to provide the right fit of services and supports to improve the quality of their lives—whether they are a young adult graduating from high school, an underemployed adult who needs to skill-up for a better career, a disabled Hoosier, or someone on state assistance. The plan considers all types of Hoosiers and aligns programs to support individual needs. One of the subcommittees dedicated to advising the development of the plan is the Industry Committee. The Industry Committee will review and determine the current and future needs of the economic drivers in Indiana. This includes specific skills and credentials (industry-recognized certifications, technical certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees, etc.). This also includes housing, transportation, labor supply, automation, talent attraction and recruitment, and other factors that will contribute to the success of Indiana’s economy. There is a particular focus on the Future of work and will also inform the State Plan in tackling Indiana’s industry challenges. The Industry Committee will continue to convene after the plan is submitted to provide feedback regarding local- and state-level systems and processes to be updated to ensure successful implementation. This Committee will also assist with monitoring the progress of the plan.

  • Colorado

    Office of the Future of Work

    Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order in 2019 establishing the Office of the Future of Work within the state’s Department of Labor and Employment. The Office serves as the central point for the state’s efforts to respond to Colorado’s rapidly changing economy and workforce and is responsible for submitting annual recommendations to the governor. Specific areas of focus include modernizing worker benefits and protections; including exploring portable benefits capable of supporting workers in the on-demand, or ’gig’ economy; developing resources to aid individuals and businesses in managing the changes the future of work brings; and aligning resources to prepare target populations most likely to be impacted by technology.

Allocate funds to initiate systems improvement to ensure continuous implementation toward shared workforce goals across Administrations. One of the major challenges states face in building a continuous lifelong learning system is funding for capacity-building across the education and workforce systems. In particular, states cite a lack of funding to build partnerships with industry, fund collaboration between state agencies, and apply for supplemental funding from external grant programs. Several states are experimenting with adding new resources to improve the ecosystem serving workers and the workforce system at-large.

State Program Examples

  • Wyoming

    Wyoming Innovation Network

    In January 2021, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon established the Wyoming Innovation Network which is made up of the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges and is focused on developingstrategic programmingto meet the state’s evolving workforce needsThe network is led by the University of Wyoming President, in collaboration with leadership of other institutions of higher education across the state, to build partnerships with industry leadership and develop solutions that translate to a more diversified and sustainable Wyoming economy. WIN has several key objectives: expanding workforce development in high-growth occupationspromoting entrepreneurs and new business startups, establishing research and market analysis agenda aimed at technology transfer and commercializationand developing revenue sources such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students.  The state leveraged federal funds allocated through the 2020 CARES Act for initial funding; future funding may be sustained by corporate partnerships.   

  • Virginia

    Governor’s Allocation of Discretionary WIOA funds

    Every state is permitted to use up to 15 percent of its WIOA Title I funds for specific statewide projects at the governor’s discretion, including systems improvement. In 2018, Governor Northam allocated $5 million of Virginia’s discretionary funds to support the Virginia Community College System in redesigning statewide career pathways to better prepare students with skills they will need for high-demand, well-paying jobs. With this funding, the Virginia Community College System has restructured almost all workforce programs to help students access in-demand skills from day one. This restructuring is first of its kind across the country and is especially applicable during times of national labor shortages. Program success is measured not by academic completion but by job placement.

Establish a bold, collaborative vision for credential attainment. 43 states have established postsecondary attainment goals for the number of adults who must hold a higher education credential to meet the nation’s need for talent. The most promising examples of these attainment goals combine a long-term goal with measurable, shorter-term goals, and metrics that align state, federal and private funding sources across the education and workforce system. To increase accountability, states should also consider ways to clearly articulate the state’s attainment goal, including a target date, in statute, higher education master plans, or other public documents

State Program Examples

  • Oregon

    Revised Attainment Goal for Adult Learners

    In 2017, the Oregon Legislature enacted House Bill 2311, revising the state postsecondary attainment goal to include working-age adults not currently enrolled in an institution of higher education or another post-secondary training program. The bill also requires the Higher Education Coordination Commission in conjunction with the Oregon Workforce Investment Board to develop this goal in alignment with statewide with career trajectories, education interests, and job opportunities. 

  • Iowa

    Future Ready Iowa

    To increase Iowa’s talent pipeline, Governor Reynolds set a goal of 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. In August 2016,  Executive Order 88 created the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, a collaborative approach aimed at highlighting best practices and nurturing high-quality partnerships to meet the state’s attainment goal and workforce needs. Funding from an NGA grant supported staff to develop short- and long-term metrics and reporting benchmarks on this goal, which state leadership used as evidence to request an $18 million increase in workforce training programs targeted at proven and promising training models in high-demand occupations. To build on this goal, the legislature later enacted Senate File (SF) 2353, which requires local workforce boards to develop and implement career pathways aligned with statewide workforce goals. Since then, the Alliance has established three programs including the Last-Dollar Scholarship, Employer Innovation Fund and resources to help employers prepare their future workforces.

Develop a sustainable preschool through postsecondary education and workforce (P20W) governance structure. A transparent governance structure can facilitate data-sharing, access, and ultimately, track individual mobility from education through the workforce over time. Statewide governance structures help address common state priorities including (1) bringing down inter-agency siloes; (2) providing insights into key questions of governors and stakeholders; and (3) making sustainable, aligned progress across the workforce system. As a result of these data systems, educators, business leaders and policymakers can incorporate real-time results into their efforts to develop a future-ready workforce.

State Program Examples

  • Mississippi

    Mississippi LifeTracks (MLT)

    Mississippi Lifetracks (MLT), was developed with strong leadership and support from former Governor Haley Barbour. MLT is an interoperable data system with the capability to tack and link education and training information from early education, K12, higher education, community college, public university and workforce data across multiple agencies.

  • Connecticut

    Executive Order Created the Chief Data Officer Position

    Connecticut Governor Lamont signed an Executive Order to create the Chief Data Officer (CDO) position and fund a data coordinator in each executive-branch agency to serve as a liaison to the CDO.

  • Multi-State

    25 States: Chief Data Officers

    25 states now have Chief Data Officers (CDOs), 18 of which have been appointed by the Office of the Governor. The state appoints an individual to oversee data quality, identify data gaps, ensure data security, and determining measures of success of systemwide digital infrastructure. State CDOs play an important leadership role within state government, including as the clearinghouse and advocate for coordinating data sharing between agencies and with the legislature. According to the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, CDOs are responsible for overseeing data quality, identifying gaps, ensuring security, and determining measures of success of systemwide digital infrastructure. CDOs play an important leadership role within state government, including as the clearinghouse and advocate for coordinating data sharing between agencies and with the legislature.  State leaders offer different perspectives on whether CDOs should reside in the Office of the Governor, Office of Technology, or elsewhere, however, there is consensus that enabling CDOs to be an advocate for agency action around data is a critical investment from states who are committed to preparing a future-ready workforce. The Beeck Center currently operates the State CDO Network to connect data leaders across the nation, and aims to improve data-related policy and service delivery through tools such as the CDO in Government Playbook.

  • Maryland

    Data Governance Advisory Board

    Maryland passed a charter to formally engage a range of stakeholders in its statewide data governance framework, the Maryland Longitudinal Data System. The Data Governance Advisory Board (Data GAB) consists of a “data steward” from state agencies, all of whom oversee data quality, gaps, security, and success measures pertaining to education and workforce goals of the state. The Data GAB is also responsible for developing a vision and mission around the collection, protection, and use of data across agencies to answer questions and inform policy decisions.

  • Kentucky


    In 2013, Kentucky passed 151B.132, establishing the Office for Education and Workforce Statistics, now known as KYSTATS. The Executive Director is appointed by the governor and is responsible for collecting and integrating education and workforce data so that policymakers, practitioners and the public can make data-informed decisions on education and training programs. This governance structure has successfully acquired several federal grants to fund statewide data alignment, adding more than $11 million in funding toward the use of effective data in Kentucky.

  • Multi-State

    16 States: P20W Cross-Agency Data System

    Currently, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have a full P20W system that captures data across all four core agencies (early learning, K-12, postsecondary and workforce). The main methods states have used to develop these structures include legislation, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between agencies, executive order, and federal State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grants.

Empower individuals to document, secure and share evidence of lifelong learning through a digital profile. States have an important role to play in helping individuals understand how to use their credentials to market themselves to potential employers. A common lexicon is one strategy toward building credential transparency, and helps users compare programs, evaluate outcomes, and understand the impact of investments in public and private training. When adopting this common language, experts stress that credentials must be informed by the real-time needs of employers in order to increase efficiency among existing programs. Many experts also agree that as individuals are required to obtain more credentials, one’s digital profile and transcripts should be non-proprietary to an institution, and instead belong to the person regardless of where one works.

State Program Examples

  • Multi-State


    BlockCerts is an open standard for creating, issuing, viewing, and verifying blockchain-based certificates. These digital records are registered on a blockchain, cryptographically signed, tamper-proof, and shareable between individuals and employers. BlockCerts have emerged as an open source way to issue and validate credential attainment, so that individuals can own and communicate demonstrated competencies over time. States may look to partner with private sector organizations to make available these digital records between institutions and employers.

  • California


    The California Community College system uses an online platform called LaunchPath to assess students’ learned skills and to display “skill badges” on their public profile when they apply for jobs. This technology is designed to facilitate better work-based learning matches between students and employers, and to empower students to retain ownership of their competencies.

  • New Mexico

    Digital Badging

    In New Mexico, a collaboration between Fab Lab Hub and the Departments of Economic Development, Workforce Solutions, and Education, along with New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership have successfully supported the development of a statewide digital badging program. In 2019, the New Mexico Department of Economic Development provided $20,000 in funding for the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) to create a Lab Safety certification for 3D Printing as well as laser and CNC machining to up-skill LANL employees and train statewide workers for positions at the three national labs located in New Mexico as well as at commercial companies. Piloted at Fab Lab Hubs’ facility at Santa Fe Community College, Digital Badges were issued through the continuing education department and will be expanded to other colleges, high schools, alternative education programs, fab labs and makerspaces in 2020.  These digital badges, which are micro-credentials that adhere to the international OpenBadges standards, allow for individuals to earn a wide variety of certifications for individual skills and competencies ranging from 3D Printing molds for jewelry designers to Fabricating Props For The Film Industry.  The New Mexico badges can be earned in an average of 6 weeks, at an average cost of $250 and empower individuals to acquire new competencies continuously throughout their lives.  The individual badges can also be stacked into Master Badges for jobs such as a Master 3D Printing Operator or Master Robotics Repair Technician.  A master badge can usually be attained for a few thousand dollars over a period of about 6 months. The pilot saw increased enrollment in the digital badge program, 30% of people who attained a badge were placed in new jobs, 30% were upskilled in existing jobs, and 20% used the skills to start a new business. The remaining badge-earners took the classes for their own lifelong learning. While this initiative was led primarily at the local level, the State assisted in the convening of stakeholders to promote the program among educators, employers and policy makers, including via a state-wide Summit in Fall 2019.

  • Alabama

    A One-Stop Platform Partnership with Credential Engine

    In 2019, Alabama Governor Ivey announced a collaboration with Credential Engine, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to credential data transparency and literacy. Alabama plans to develop a one-stop platform to house longitudinal data, which will operate as a virtual resume, or “student backpack”, to signal to employers the credentials carried by individuals. The Office of the Governor also is working with employers, higher education professionals and community leaders to publish to the statewide registry, credential data to enhance learners’ access to understanding career pathways throughout the state.

Facilitate the use of high-value, industry-recognized credentials in workforce training programs. In addition to building a registry of credentials, states can take their high-value credential identification work a step further by incentivizing the use of high-value credentials that are the industry-accepted standard. A number of states are implementing this strategy by ensuring that eligible parities listed on the state Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) include recognized credentials. States can consider further building on this work by enabling priority industry credentials to count for postsecondary credit or hours and making high-value credential attainment count in accountability systems.

State Program Examples

  • Connecticut

    SkillUp CT

    The Governor’s Workforce Council expanded access to Metrix Learning licenses and purchased license to 180Skills for those receiving unemployment insurance through SkillUpCT. These platforms allow eligible residents to enroll in short-term training tracks that lead to more than 100 industry certifications. In 2020, the state utilized federal CARES Act funding to provide free training for displaced people seeking quality job opening with in-demand industries, including supportive services, individualized job coaching and short-term credential attainment through aligned education and training providers

  • New Jersey

    Requires Public Works Contractors to Recognize Credentials

    In 2018, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed into law a requirement that public works contractors must certify participation in a DOL-approved apprenticeship program prior to receiving a contractor registration certificate. The law also requires that apprenticeship programs include training for every classification of worker a contractor employs on a public works jobsite. State contractors and vendors have an enormous capacity to conduct on-the-job training which can result in accumulated credentials for education and training. Requiring state contractors to offer an educational benefit ensures that as new training and apprenticeship programs are developed, workers are obtaining credentials which are industry-recognized and portable to future work.

  • Alabama

    Links Credentials to In-Demand Occupations

    To facilitate the identification and use of industry-recognized credentials that are linked to in-demand occupations in training programs, Alabama established the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways (ACCCP), a public-private entity that identifies credentials of value through dialogue with employers. The state uses this information to ensure that state investments target programs that lead to these credentials. The Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) includes a description of each eligible program, designation of industry-recognized certificate, and program performance.

  • Minnesota

    Requires Eligible Training Providers to Provide Industry Recognized Credentials

    To facilitate the identification and use of industry-recognized credentials in training programs, Minnesota has issued policy guidance for provider eligibility on their WIOA-manded Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) that requires that programs listed lead to industry-recognized credentials.

Design funding systems that continuously improve toward the state’s workforce goals. Outcomes-based contracts help focus education and training program providers on delivering results. In contrast, traditional cost-reimbursement contracts often pay service providers regardless of whether they actually help people get jobs, gain skills, or earn higher wages. As rapid changes take place in the workforce over the next decade, states can consider dynamic funding strategies that scales up success by default, such as through outcomes-based payments, can help maximize the impact of state dollars.

State Program Examples

  • Rhode Island

    ResultsFirst Initiative to Promote Outcomes-based Funding

    Rhode Island partnered with the Pew-MacArthur ResultsFirst Initiative  to develop more in- depth reports that connect budget, staffing, and performance data for data-driven decision making. The ResultsFirst Initiative utilizes an econometric model to analyze costs and benefits of investments in public programs. The model relies on the best available research on program effectiveness to predict the public safety and fiscal outcomes of each program in Rhode Island, based on the state's population characteristics and the cost to provide these programs.

  • Virginia

    Pay for Performance (PfP) for Improving Outcomes for Youth and Young Adults

    In 2018, the Northern Virginia Workforce Development Board’s SkillSource Group launched a contract to provide bonus payments, through WIOA PfP, to providers that achieve predefined milestones for programs serving those in foster care and justice-involved young adults.

  • Nevada

    Work-based Learning Pay-for-Performance

    In 2018, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation released a Work-Based Learning Pay-For-Performance (PfP) Grant Request for Proposal that combined evidence-based strategy requirements with PfP.

  • Tennessee

    Ties Postsecondary Performance Funding to Outcomes

    Many states have implemented postsecondary performance funding to evaluate student success, efficiency, and affordability in determining continuation of funding for higher education programs. Some states have experimented with comprehensive systems, in which all sectors of public higher education are measured, while others have applied these metrics to certain industries. In Tennessee, an outcomes-based financing model increased Tennessee’s attainment rate by 8.9 percent between 2013 and 2017 and exceeded the national average of 7.6 percent. A performance-based funding model could be a useful strategy for states who are currently seeing low-performance in their education and skills training programs and may wish to prioritize performance in specific industries which are at greatest risk of automation. 

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