SWEAP update: leaders from seven states meet to advance use of data tools

By Bryan Wilson, November 21, 2016

On November 16 and 17, forty leaders from seven states met in Chicago to advance the use of data tools to inform state workforce development policies. The State Leadership Forum was part of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). 

With the generous support of JPMorgan Chase Foundation and USA Funds, NSC’s SWEAP is creating better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how these programs can work together to meet employer skill needs, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment.

SWEAP is assisting California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island develop three types of data tools: dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports. Dashboards use a small number of common metrics to report education and employment outcomes across workforce development programs. Pathway evaluators show how people use a range of education and training programs to earn credentials and move into jobs. Supply and demand reports display how the supply of newly credentialed workers compares to the number of workers that employers need.

At the Forum, state teams consisting of Governor’s Offices, legislators, state workforce agencies, state higher education agencies, state workforce development boards, and others demonstrated their data tools and discussed how information from the tools can impact policy. In addition to the four SWEAP states, attending the Forum were representatives from three new states: Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan. 

The states shared many ideas on how information from the tools can impact state policies. Among them: the data can inform resource allocations and postsecondary program offerings; the data can identify key industries for sector partnerships; the data can pinpoint talent pipelines for business recruitment and job growth; the data can be an important part of state career guidance policies; and the data can identify effective pathway programs.  Also, the process itself of building the tools can point out gaps in a state’s data infrastructure that require administrative or legislative fixes.

In 2017 NSC will share lessons learned during SWEAP with additional states. In the winter NSC will conduct a webinar on SWEAP.  In the early spring we will post reports from each of the states and on the project overall. Also, throughout the year NSC and Workforce Data Quality Campaign staff will be available to assist other states, particularly on state policies associated with data tools.