OCTAE Connection - October 2, 2014 - Issue 216

OCTAE Newsletter

October 2, 2014



Vice President Biden Announces Recipients of $450 Million in Job-Driven Training Grants

On Monday, Sept. 29, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Secretary Arne Duncan announced the winners of $450 million in job-driven training grants for nearly 270 community colleges across the country.  An excerpt from the White House press release follows: 

“The funding is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training competitive grant program, which is co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education. 

“The grants will provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to partner with employers to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that will help job seekers get the skills they need for in-demand jobs in industries like information technology, health care, energy, and advanced manufacturing. 

“Building on the strategies advanced in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, these types of job-driven training partnerships were also identified in the vice president’s job-driven training report released in July as an important way to successfully prepare and place workers in jobs that pay a middle class wage.”

ED Hosts Moving STEM Forward Symposium  

From Sept. 29–30, the U.S. Department of Education, under OCTAE’s leadership, hosted the symposium “Moving STEM Forward in Career, Technical, and Adult Education.”  The Department welcomed participants from the corporate and non-profit sectors, the education field, other government departments and agencies, and others to discuss adapting STEM education to the needs of students, employers, and the nation’s economy.

Participants examined the state of STEM education and shared recommendations for how it can best meet the country’s job demand. On day one, four panel discussions were held on (1) the socioeconomic imperative for moving STEM forward in career, technical, and adult education; (2) equity and access in STEM education; (3) STEM innovations, initiatives, and collaborations; and (4) responses from three Administration officials to earlier panels and discussions.  

The second day’s agenda consisted of small working sessions where recommendations and strategies were suggested on a variety of key issues. One is that there are many STEM job vacancies that are currently unfilled, despite some analyses that suggest that the U.S. has a surplus of STEM and STEM-trained workers.  Depending on how STEM is defined by analysts, STEM and STEM-related occupations make up between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. workforce, and that percentage is expected to grow.  A number of participants emphasized that, in order to respond to low STEM employment, both short- and long-term realistic solutions are needed. One participant suggested that students and parents are being misled about the competencies needed to compete successfully for and be retained in higher-level STEM-intensive occupations.  Another warned that students, parents, and employers must be aware of “faux competencies,” i.e., competencies or credentials that ostensibly but falsely certify STEM competency.  Another attendee insisted on the need for “deep” literacy as a prerequisite for the numeracy and other skills needed to succeed in STEM-intensive occupations.  And another participant advocated STEM early education.  Permeating the discussions were comments about the need for an emphasis on equity and on urgency in addressing this issue. 

OCTAE Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin commented, “When we think about a strategy to give all our students – and when I say all, I do mean all – opportunities to develop STEM foundation skills, we need to make it real.  We need our business partners to make that happen.  We also need to make it count.  That is why dual credit opportunities for both high school and adult education students are essential.  We need that adult, secondary, and postsecondary compact for success.  Finally, we need to make it happen now.  Our businesses don’t have time to wait.  They have thousands of good unfilled jobs now.  This need requires us to rethink preparation, recruitment and on-boarding not for, but with, the private sector.  New forms of work and learn options need to be high on our list of priority considerations.” 

In his closing remarks, Uvin emphasized that it is everybody’s job to make adult STEM education and employment fair for all Americans.

New Round of Eligible Applicants to Compete for Promise Zone Designations 

On Friday, Sept. 19, the Obama administration invited a new round of eligible applicants to compete for promise zone designations. While no grant funds come with the designation, promise zones receive preference for certain competitive federal programs, as well as technical assistance.  "Promise zones are about giving folks who have been underserved for far too long the opportunity to build stronger neighborhoods and more prosperous lives," said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro at the competition’s launch.  Currently, there are 12 federal agencies working in close collaboration to provide resources and expertise to urban, rural, and tribal promise zones to expand economic mobility and opportunity. 

Applications are due on Nov. 21, 2014.  Click here for more information and application instructions.

Professional Development in Science Opportunity for Adult Education Providers

As part of its ongoing efforts to help states connect adult educators to high-quality professional development opportunities, the Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) has released the third installment in its online, self-paced science course seriesProject-Based Science Instruction for Career Preparation. This course builds on the first two science courses—Engaging Adult Learners in Science and Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development. Together, the three courses provide rationales for teaching science in adult education classrooms, support the lesson planning and instruction of science, and supply the connection between science content knowledge and its practical, daily application—especially in work- and career-related contexts. 

LINCS now offers 18 online, no-cost, self-paced courses for adult education practitioners. Last year, over 11,000 certificates were issued for their completion, representing over 26,000 hours of learning!

Register on the LINCS Learning Portal for these and other free courses, and join the conversation in the LINCS Community

Bloomberg Foundation Invites 80 Cities to Apply for Innovation Delivery Grants

The Bloomberg Philanthropies recently announced a $45 million investment to help city governments across the country use innovative approaches to address major challenges to improving urban life. According to the announcement, the foundation will direct substantial funding, as well as other assistance, to aid dozens of cities in adopting its Innovation Delivery model.  This model is an “approach to generating and implementing new ideas that has been tested and refined over the past three years in partnerships with city leaders in Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans.” 

Over 80 U.S. cities have been invited to apply for Innovation Delivery grants. Cities with 100,000 residents or more, and with mayors that have at least two years remaining in office, are eligible to apply. Grantees will be selected in fall 2014, and will receive between $250,000 and $1,000,000 annually, over a three-year period. Additionally, they will receive both implementation support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. As stated in the announcement, these new Innovation Delivery teams are to be functional by spring 2015, and will “use best-in-class idea generation techniques with a structured, data-driven approach to delivering results.” 

As well as the direct investments to cities, the announcement states that Bloomberg Philanthropies will “fund technical assistance, research and evaluation, and partnerships with organizations to further spread the Innovation Delivery approach.”  

Click on the Innovation Delivery playbook to learn more about the grants and the experiences of the five original partnership cities.