NSC Hosts First Leadership Forum of its State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP)

By Brooke DeRenzis, December 15, 2014

Last week, NSC convened policymakers from seven states, along with researchers and philanthropic partners, for the first State Leadership Forum of its State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). The Forum was sponsored by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Ford Foundation.

SWEAP is helping to develop system-wide information about workforce education and training programs for state policy leaders. SWEAP aims to create better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how these programs can work together in their state, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment.

Policymakers from California, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island met for two days in Miami, FL to discuss leading-edge data tools and how to use those tools to make policies that close the skill gap. In addition to governors’ advisors, workforce agency leaders, and higher education policymakers, state senators from Maryland, Mississippi, and Ohio attended, as did a Delegate from the Maryland House of Representatives.

Andy Van Kleunen, NSC Executive Director and Chauncy Lennon, JPMorgan Chase’s Head of Workforce Initiatives, Global Philanthropy kicked off the Forum by describing how SWEAP can help policymakers better target resources to prepare people for middle-skill jobs. Florida State Senator (and former Senate President) Don Gaetz shared how he used data to drive policy that made Florida’s career and technical education programs more responsive to the labor market. Ruben Garcia of the Texas Workforce Commission and Rachel Zinn of Workforce Data Quality Campaign, explained SWEAP’s suite of data tools:

  • Dashboards use a few common metrics to report outcomes for education and workforce programs individually and for the workforce system as a whole
  • Pathway evaluators show how workers with different needs are helped and which combinations of programs and services are effective for whom
  • Supply and demand reports show how the supply of newly credentialed workers compares to the number of workers that employers demand

In discussions led by Chris King and Heath Prince of the University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center, state teams described their states’ skill gaps and their current efforts to use data and information to close these gaps. They also discussed opportunities to use SWEAP data tools to better align their states’ education and workforce programs with each other and with the labor market.

The Forum concluded with a discussion of the next phase of the SWEAP initiative. In 2015, SWEAP will work with a select number of states to develop a suite of data tools and to help policymakers use those tools to better prepare a range of job-seekers for skilled employment in their state.

For more information on SWEAP, watch our new “commercial” that explains how SWEAP can help state policymakers improve equity and efficiency across state skills programs.