OCTAE Connection - Issue 208 - July 25, 2014

OCTAE Newsletter

                                 July 25, 2014

President Obama Signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Into Law  

On July 22, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law. The signing ceremony was a showcase for the importance of national workforce education and development to economic recovery. It included the release of Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, a federal-wide effort to ensure “that federally funded training programs are singularly focused on getting more Americans ready to work with marketable skills.” 

WIOA will become effective on July 1, 2015, the first full program year (PY) after its enactment.  However, the act includes several provisions that become effective on other dates.  For example, Governors must submit Unified State Plans pertaining to workforce investment programs, adult education and vocational rehabilitation to the Secretary of Labor on March 1, 2016. In addition, the WIA performance accountability section remains in effect for PY 2015, with the new WIOA performance accountability provisions taking effect at the start of PY 2016 on July 1, 2016.    

Following the signing, both the departments of Labor and Education announced WIOA implementation resources and outreach efforts to their stakeholders. Bookmark the OCTAE WIOA Reauthorization website of resources for extensive information on the act and links to the resource websites of the department of Labor and vocational rehabilitation.    

Baccalaureate and Beyond:  Employment Experiences and Lives  

Whether or not attaining a four-year degree is the surest avenue to obtaining a “good job” continues to be debated, as OCTAE Connection has noted in recent issues.  Baccalaureate and Beyond:  A First Look at the Employment Experiences and Lives of College Graduates, 4 Years On, a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (July 2014), looks at the employment outcomes of approximately 17,110 students who completed their four-year degrees in the 2007–08 school year.  This article reports on selected findings from the study. The authors caution that readers should not “draw causal inferences based solely on the bivariate results presented.”

Employment and Enrollment Status.  The study found that 69 percent of the graduates studied were exclusively employed four years later, while 11 percent were both employed and enrolled in additional postsecondary education. About 6 percent of the students were enrolled in postsecondary education or training and not working, 8 percent were not looking for work, and 7 percent were unemployed and seeking work.

Of the graduates who were employed in 2012, about 85 percent were STEM undergraduate majors as compared with about 82 percent who were not.  Those with engineering and engineering technology majors had the highest employment rate among all STEM majors (89.6 percent). For non-STEM majors, employment rates ranged from about 87 percent among those who majored in health-care fields to about 78 percent for those who majored in the social sciences.

Time Spent Employed, Unemployed, and Out of the Labor Force.  Members of the cohort who didn’t enroll in postgraduate education were, on average, employed for about 84 percent of the months from graduation to 2012.  During this same time period, on average,  this cohort was out of the labor market for about 10 percent of the months and unemployed for about 6 percent of them.

Hours per Week and Salary in Current Primary Job.  The graduates who were not in school and who had been at their current job for more than three months when the follow-up survey was conducted worked an average of 41 hours per week at their primary job.  Among the 85 percent who worked 35 or more hours a week (the designation for a full-time worker), their average annual salary from that primary job was $52,200.

Demographics and Enrollment Characteristics.  Approximately 54 percent of four-year degree recipients were unmarried with no children, while 21 percent were married with no dependent children.  Twenty percent were married with dependent children, and 5 percent were unmarried with dependent children.

Please visit the online link for in-depth information about these topics, including data on sex, race/ethnicity, age at award of degree, and major field of study.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and OCTAE Announce Collaboration to Assist Low-Skilled Youths and Adults

At the recent American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Susan Hildreth announced the publication of a Dear Colleague letter signed jointly by Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin of OCTAE. The letter encourages effective collaborations “between libraries and federally funded adult education programs” … “to enhance the skills, employability, and quality of life of youth(s) and adults with low skills,” particularly in the area of digital literacy. It describes the partnership, current and planned activities of the two organizations, and mutual benefits of the collaboration.   As the letter states, “partnerships between adult education providers and libraries stand as a powerful example of shared responsibility for strengthening communities’ skills and talent pools.”

From her office, Hildreth said, “Public libraries are great equalizers, making services and information available to all learners in their communities. This joint initiative combines the strength of libraries, often providing the only free source of Internet access, with the strength of the adult education system, which provides training expertise, tools, and resources for youth and adults with low literacy. Working together, we can improve the lives of many Americans.”

As stated in the Dear Colleague letter, “OCTAE is and continues to work to expand access to rigorous, meaningful learning for youths and adults through innovative uses of technology that supplement and enrich classroom instruction as well as provide self-study opportunities. Since individuals of all ages are using libraries as learning sites, not only can library professionals benefit from the expertise of adult educators, and the specialized tools and resources of the adult education programs, but adult education programs can increase their reach and visibility in communities, extending learning opportunities by explicitly partnering with libraries.”  The letter acknowledges that librarians share resources, tools, and best practices that help adults become digitally literate and support them in sharing their knowledge and skills with other learners.  For example, the Providence Public Library (R.I.) used an IMLS grant to create Adult Lifelong Learning Access, a project to “spur stakeholders across (the state) to implement models for increasing access to digital literacy, adult education, and workforce services” at “two of the state’s leading public libraries.”

The Public Library Association's website, www.DigitalLearn.org, is another IMLS-funded project.  It is an online hub for libraries and community organizations to increase digital literacy across the nation. According to its website, it offers “a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy, and a community of practice for digital literacy trainers to share resources, tools and best practices.”

For more information on this joint endeavor, readers are encouraged to read the Dear Colleague letter and IMLS blog post (or the OCTAE cross-posted blog), which provide additional background on the formation and development of this partnership.