NSC releases toolkits to advance a skills equity agenda

By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth, October 26, 2016

Arming people with the skills they need to succeed is crucial for workers, for business, and for our economy. But many people face challenges in accessing and completing training that can lead to a middle-skill career: low-income people, workers with caregiving responsibilities (many of whom are women), immigrants with language barriers, etc.

To expand economic opportunity for people and build a pipeline of skilled workers for business, we need to create better access to training and credentials that lead to careers – and we need to do so equitably.

That’s why National Skills Coalition is advocating for states to adopt a set of policies that broadly expand access to middle-skill training, especially for those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity. The policies in our skills equity agenda are intended to remove barriers that, if addressed, will make it easier for low-income people to access and complete middle-skill training that leads to an in-demand credential and family-supporting job.

For instance:

  • Integrated education and training policies can help people refresh basic math, reading, and English skills while training for an in-demand occupation;
  • Job-driven financial aid policies make it possible for students (including part-time students, those in short-term programs, and working learners) to enroll in middle-skill training programs; and
  • Stackable credential policies allow working learners to balance their education and training with job schedules, family needs, and financial resources.

These are just three examples of state policies that, when properly implemented, can expand equitable access to middle-skill training, credentials and careers.

National Skills Coalition has developed a series of toolkits to help states develop and enact these kind of “skills equity” policies designed to help states bridge their skills gap, help people train for in-demand occupations, and help businesses find the skilled workers they need to succeed.

The toolkits are part of NSC’s skills equity agenda – an effort to advance state policies that expand access to middle-skill training through job-driven financial aid, SNAP E&T, stackable credentials, alignment, integrated education and training, and TANF E&T.

The toolkits provide resources for policymakers and advocates to advance a skills equity agenda in their state. In addition to containing model legislation that advocates and state legislators can adapt, the toolkits describe each type of policy, explain why it’s important for states to adopt such a policy, detail components of the policy, and offer examples from states with model policies. In the coming months, NSC will also release 50-state scans that will identify which states have skills equity policies in place – and which states have opportunity to adopt new policies.