This is the third blog in our series about the New Skills for Youth Initiative, a partnership between the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Advance CTE, and JP Morgan Chase & Co. which provides states the opportunity to obtain grants that schools can use to align their curricula with skills that businesses value and thereby increase student readiness for careers and postsecondary education.
Recently, CCSSO, Advance CTE, and the Education Strategy Group completed a review of the work done by the 25 states that were involved in Phase One of the New Skills for Youth Initiative. Below are common approaches that states utilized in Phase One.
States took advantage of the opportunity to build cross-sector ownership for career readiness. Cross-sector groups included representation from not only from K-12 and postsecondary schools but from state workforce readiness and economic development initiatives. The leading states have strong governors who are making certain that this career readiness work in their states is aligned with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and economic development work more generally. The cross-sector collaboration between K-12 and postsecondary is especially critical to ensure aligned career pathways, credentials of value, and dual credit opportunities that shorten a student’s timeline for earning a degree or credential.
Equity was a key driver in the work of these states. The New Skills for Youth grants require states to report data on access and completion of high-demand career pathways by under-served and non-traditional student populations. Early reports show that students in economically disadvantaged communities have less access to high demand pathways than students in advantaged communities. Disparities are especially noteworthy between white students and students of color. This initiative provides an excellent opportunity to close gaps in access, achievement, economic opportunity, and earnings between groups of students.
States participating in this career readiness work understand the regional differences within their states. While a state may have defined high-demand and high-wage pathways, there is room for regional differences based on regional economies. Leading states are asking regional WIOA boards to develop goals for pathway access and completion based on regional needs.
Phase One of this initiative occurred at the same time that many states were in the process of completing education plans required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA.) Therefore, many of the states that participated in Phase One included key elements from their ESSA plans, such accountability, in their work within this initiative.
As the New Skills for Youth Initiative moves into Phase Two, the ten states awarded grants (Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin) have set aggressive goals to improve career readiness outcomes in their states that, if reached, will in turn grow local, regional, and state economies. You can find out more about the specific work of these 10 states here. Stay tuned for future blogs that describe the work of individual states!