OCTAE Connection - Issue 225 - February 27, 2015

OCTAE Newsletter

February 27, 2015

"Thank You for Celebrating CTE Month!"

National Skills Coalition Releases New Report on Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youths and Adults

The National Skills Coalition recently released Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youth and Adults, a new report by Rachel Unruh and Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, on the effects of U.S. immigration policy on the estimated 11.4 unauthorized immigrants in America’s labor force. The report examines the need for immigration policymakers to address gaps in the adult education and workforce systems in order to create effective policies that will allow immigrants to contribute to the economy.  According to Missing in Action, while policymakers at the national and state levels have already put forward proposals that make it easier for immigrants to do this, some credential requirements do not align with labor market demands.  The report also finds that no policy to date has included the investments or infrastructure necessary to support job-driven educational pathways for unauthorized youths and adults.  Entities at the state and local levels serving youths and adult populations are encouraged to read the full report. 

According to the report, immigration policies that are aimed at deferring action on deportations have substantial economic potential for these youths and adults, as well as for the entire nation. It is well-documented, the authors say, that higher levels of education are associated with higher earnings and economic productivity.  And without immigrants, the nation’s workforce will not be able to replace the workers who are expected to retire between 2010 and 2030.  In short, “The absence of immigrants in the workforce could impede the nation’s ability to maintain current productivity, let alone to foster economic growth and opportunity.” 

Three recent immigration policies, The DREAM Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), are examined, and workforce system gaps are identified in each. The report finds that while federal immigration policy has tremendous economic potential, it must support job-driven training leading to middle-skill credentials.  This will “ensure that the current lack of access to job-driven educational pathways does not become a barrier to citizenship in the future.” Findings also show that “with the impending implementation of the newly reauthorized WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), now is a particularly important time for the workforce development and immigrant integration communities to proactively engage in conversations with each other and with local, state, and federal policymakers about creating job-driven educational pathways for a significant and essential segment of America’s current and future workforce: unauthorized youth and adults.” 

Missing in Action concludes that if a strategy is not developed now to ensure that the WIOA’s implementation “is informed by the immigration and adult basic education communities, the positive economic impact of immigration policy will be missing in action.”Back to Top

Certificates: A Fast Track to Careers

For students without the time, money, or inclination to pursue college degrees—either at the associate, bachelor’s, or higher levels—certificates can offer them fast tracks into careers, according to Elka Torpey’s recent article in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, “Certificates: A fast track to careers.” The value to one’s occupation of obtaining a certificate, however, varies significantly in the associated average wages, number of jobs available, whether or not they are typically required by the employer, and their cost.  Therefore, prospective certificate seekers need to consider their options very carefully, and this article provides them an overview. (It supplements a column in issue 224 of the OCTAE Connection regarding projected job vacancies between 2012 and 2022.) 

According to Torpey, certificates are the most popular types of postsecondary awards, with more than a million awarded in 2010–11 in a variety of areas.  For a prospective certificate seeker to make an informed choice among the options available, he or she needs to understand what the certificate signifies and how options and costs vary among the schools that offer them. A student typically earns a certificate to prepare for a specific occupation, and most certificate programs are for individuals who have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.  They are particularly beneficial in helping students obtain further career-related qualifications. 

Certificates are preparatory courses of study.  They typically do not lead directly to professional licenses or certifications. They differ from licenses, which permit an individual to practice in a certain occupation, and from certifications, which are awarded when an individual has demonstrated competency in a particular occupation, and often involve assessments and documentation of experience.  Generally speaking, schools issue certificates, states or other governments issue licenses, and industry organizations issue certifications.  It is important for students to distinguish among the three in order to determine the paths they will need to follow to achieve their desired objectives. 

According to this article, most certificates are awarded by community colleges and private not-for-profit institutions.  Students need to weigh their options carefully in choosing where to pursue their desired certificates.  Among the major factors to consider is cost, which varies, often significantly, among institutions, with public school programs typically being less expensive than their private school counterparts.  For example, Torpey found that in 2011–12, tuition and fees for full-time, in-state students at public community colleges averaged $3,384.  Comparatively, at two-year private nonprofit institutions the average cost was $13,204, and at two-year private for-profit institutions the average cost was $14,131. 

The article states that individuals pursue certificates primarily to prepare themselves to enter or gain advantages in the job market.  As noted in the introduction, this can be a successful strategy if pursued intelligently. Torpey cites data that show that certificate earners enjoy wage premiums, earning, on average, 20 percent more than those with only high school diplomas.  And there is, on average, a 37 percent wage premium for those who work in occupations in which their certificates were earned. 

Torpey’s article concludes with useful tips for certificate seekers to help them make the best decisions for their futures. 

A later follow-up column will discuss certificates in particular occupational fields.Back to Top

Corporation for National and Community Service Announces Funding Opportunity

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently announced a funding opportunity, within its Social Innovation Fund.  CNCS has identified $51 million for eligible grant-making institutions interested in developing “innovative, evidence-based solutions to challenges facing low-income communities nationwide in our focus areas of healthy futures, youth development and economic opportunity.” The full grant amount includes $11 million dedicated for the continuation of existing grants. According to the announcement, “Each selected grant maker will be awarded $1 million to $10 million and will match every federal dollar of the grant award. At least 80 percent of awarded federal funds must be invested in sub-grantee programs, who match their grants 1:1 as well.”  

Applicants are encouraged to read the full Notice of Funding Availability for all of the requirements, application instructions, and important resources. 

Applications are due on March 17, 2015, at 5 p.m., ET. Successful applicants will be notified in July 2015.Back to Top