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Happy New Year from CAEL’s Workforce and Economic Development Team

A new year is here, bringing with it new opportunities and, of course, great challenges.

For years, the WED team has worked with communities and regions to build stronger economies through investment in learning and workforce development. Now, we’ll be sharing the examples of this work and stories of success and challenge from our partner communities across the US.

By sharing these stories, we hope to increase dialogue across the wide range of communities who we are privileged to work with, to help all communities to achieve economic success, and to enable every community member to share and contribute to that success.

We welcome your feedback, and invite you to share your community’s stories of successes and challenges overcome in linking workforce and economic development.

Sincerely,

The CAEL WED Team

  • Joel Simon, VP
  • Sarah Miller, Associate Director
  • James Reddish, Associate Director
  • Jade Arn, Senior Consultant
  • Wilson Finch, Senior Consultant
  • Devon Coombe, Director of Business and Budget Planning
  • Angela Gallagher, Research Associate
  • Tucker Plumlee, Research Associate

Creating Career Awareness in High Demand Fields Across the State of Tennessee

When we at CAEL think about Tennessee, amazing music, barbeque and scenery come to mind, but so does economic boom, job growth and increased levels of education. CAEL has been lucky to have worked throughout Tennessee for years and to have seen the economic changes the alignment of dozens of systems to make education affordable and increase college completion. The next frontier is to ensure that every Tennessean understands the careers across the state and how they can access education and training to align their skill sets with their desired career path. CAEL is pleased to announce that we will be working on a new initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Complete Tennessee, to create a statewide career awareness portal to aid students, recent grads, current workers, career changers and any other job seekers to better understand opportunities in the labor market.

CAEL’s efforts will leverage existing state and institutional stakeholders and the work already underway in Tennessee. CAEL will communicate to Tennesseans the key industries, job opportunities and job requirements that will help them make informed educational choices, encouraging academic and career success. In our work nationally we see a lack of effective career guidance for residents to understand what jobs are out there, what skills they need, training opportunities, career outlooks and resources to discuss opportunities. CAEL’s concept for a career guidance portal in Tennessee will help to address these important and often unmet needs.

A 2016 report by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission noted that the state was projected to award 76,656 degrees in 2025, an increase of 12.66 percent over the number of degrees given in 2014, but concluded that “a concerted effort must be made to ensure that students are earning degrees in fields in which jobs are available.” That’s why CAEL’s support is crucial for this initiative.

CAEL’s efforts will expand the functionality of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) system. The expanded iPASS system will provide learners in Tennessee with relevant and up-to-date career exploration data and information. The Foundation is currently building advising resources into the system, but currently lacks career guidance. CAEL is developing that missing component in Tennessee, building a model that can be replicated in communities throughout the country.

To learn about other initiatives CAEL has spearheaded, click here. Want to know more about CAEL’s customized services to support workforce and economic development? Click here to learn how CAEL can help.  

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Degree Attainment in High Growth, High Demand Industries

To meet employer demand, many communities are promoting completion of college degrees, and a wide range of degree completion initiatives have developed across the US. While increasing college attainment is critical, success won’t happen with just any credential. CAEL supports individuals and communities encouraging credential attainment in key industries, aimed at key specialties, at levels that reflect the needs of each specific regional economy.  

Over the past three years, the Lumina Foundation has been supporting 75 communities throughout the country working to increase the degree attainment via the Community Partnership for Attainment (CPA), and CAEL has been pleased to help those communities focus their efforts in degrees that align with high demand and high growth industries and jobs. Additionally, CAEL has supported communities who look beyond just young people to meet degree completion goals, helping to make industry-relevant programs more accessible to adult and non-traditional learners.

Some examples of CAEL technical assistance to CPA communities has included:

  • Mapping careers in target industries in Tulsa, Nashville, San Antonio and Racine, WI
  • Identifying industry-relevant programs in revealing gaps in the available programs in Tulsa, Kansas City, Boston, and Fort Wayne, IN
  • Assessing colleges’ and universities’ ability to engage and support adult learners in Kansas City, Louisville, Tulsa, and Nashville and Shasta, CA
  • Defining target industry skills needs in Louisville
  • Increasing colleges’ ability to support veterans in Jacksonville, FL

The program concluded last November, capping an effort to foster conditions within communities that increase access to higher education, encourage greater postsecondary completion rates and improve equity. The initiative encouraged best practices to support community collaboration, supported communities’ efforts in eliminating attainment gaps and focused on communities’ steps to encourage completion of higher education programs. Many, many of these communities worked specifically to focus all of these degree attainment efforts within the needs of their local economic realities.  

CAEL is proud to have assisted communities throughout the U.S. to support their higher education attainment and community transformation goals.  

Click here to discover CAEL’s approach to meeting the unique needs of each community it serves. 

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Current Projects

We are actively engaged in projects throughout the country, helping communities grow and prosper. Here are a few examples of current work.

  • Building a career pathways community of practice in Monterey, CA
  • Helping dislocated manufacturing workers in Indianapolis apply their skills in other growth industries
  • Creating workforce partnerships for the information technology industry in communities across Iowa
  • Facilitating transfer of military STEM skills into high demand civilian occupations in Seattle, WA and Jacksonville, FL
  • Helping colleges across Missouri to align their programs with industry certifications
  • Helping colleges in Mississippi, Colorado, Illinois and West Virginia grant college credit for work-based and other prior learning
  • Building a pipeline of skilled workers for Northwest Arkansas’s high growth sectors

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Client Corner

We spoke with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Operations Officer, Nancy Eisenbrandt about CAEL’s Career Action Platform, which provides learners in Tennessee with relevant and up-to-date career exploration data and information. The platform will expose Tennesseans to the key industries, job opportunities and job requirements that will inform educational choices and encourage academic and career success.

CAEL: There are a number of other initiatives focused on workforce development in Tennessee already underway. How have those efforts helped the state align for carrying out this initiative?

Nancy Eisenbrandt: In the middle of 2013, the Chamber, three workforce development boards and the Tennessee Board of Regents launched an effort to better connect high growth sector employers with the degrees and credentials that were being produced by the public higher education system. From that we formed three skills panels, led by business and higher education representatives from both technical college and community college systems.

That collaborative work led to the Nashville Chamber being invited to apply for a Lumina Community Partnership for Attainment grant, in which we put forward, as one of the key tenets, that we would work to continue to align higher education supply with the demand in these high growth sectors. We knew that if we could increase postsecondary education attainment, particularly among adults, it would be crucial that they be linked to real jobs and the training, degrees and credentials that were necessary to successfully fill those jobs.

So, we’ve been on this road for a while in terms of recognizing how important it is to be able to communicate and ensure that the higher education system was producing credentials and degrees with the competencies that businesses were needing in these high-growth sectors. This initiative was born from, and furthers, that prior work.

CAEL: What is the value of this initiative for Tennesseans?

Eisenbrandt: So often for individuals, whether they’re entering higher education from high school or they’re looking at returning to college, there’s a mystery in terms of what an employer needs in order for that individual to advance within their current industry and employer, and/or if they want to make a career change into a new field, where the greatest opportunity to do so lies. This initiative removes that mystery. Because in Middle Tennessee we’ve had a large focus on adult attainment, that linkage becomes even more critical, owing to the time commitment necessary and the essential nature of the working adult.

CAEL: What makes this initiative unique?

Eisenbrandt: I don’t believe this has carried out on a statewide basis, with a regional focus and by then tying those regional employers closely to those sectors, that this particular project is going to focus on. Setting up an architecture to put high demand, high growth sectors into a career action platform that’s tailored is, I think, very innovative. Advanced manufacturing in Middle Tennessee is very focused on auto manufacturing, for example, but in East Tennessee there’s a strong focus on chemical manufacturing. So, the idea that we can truly personalize this career information to the economies that are serving those populations becomes very important to this work and is incredibly unique.

CAEL: Why is this project important to the work that you lead at the Chamber of Commerce?

Eisenbrandt: In 2015, the Chamber initiated a workforce study that looked at all of Middle Tennessee and that study indicated that, during the next five years, we were going to see significant shortages of skills and talent in key areas where we were also going to see notable job growth. Worse, we saw that we were going to have a shortage of about 25,000 people to fill those jobs that we were creating. So, for us this initiative is essential for the long-term prosperity not only of the economy, but also for the prosper of the men and women of Tennessee.

CAEL: How do you see the value in this work for your employers? What have you been hearing from them in the community and how does this work address their needs?

Eisenbrandt: One of the things we hear over and over again from all sectors is the critical nature of basic employability skills, including those that are less tangible and so more difficult to convey through a degree or credential, like communication, problem solving and teamwork skills. I think it will continue to be a challenge for our colleges to be able to embed that kind of training into the curriculum overall, so this initiative will help them as they integrate those skills.  

We’ve also heard that the process of identifying new degrees and credentials, particularly for fast-moving sectors like information technology, needs a clearer pathway of communication to better understand where the education demands are so that colleges can be more responsive in adding curriculum as needed. For example, our skills panels carried out a review of local community colleges’ information technology curriculum, and what they found was that none of the colleges were teaching anything around mobile applications. Yet we knew that there are a great number of companies that were in need individuals who are skilled in building them. So, that was added as a degree focus. I think that agility is important across the board.

CAEL: What can other communities learn from this initiative?

Eisenbrandt: This initiative stresses that the alignment between higher education and economies is essential for job growth and company prosperity, and that it requires a very clear communication path to be successful. Not only between higher education and the organizations hiring these individuals, but between those groups and the individuals who are going through that career search process and trying to understand where their best opportunities are—both in terms of their personal interests and abilities, and with respect to high-growth sectors.

CAEL: What will the successful implementation of this project look like in Tennessee?

Eisenbrandt: We hope that as a result of this project we’ll produce a very clear set of tools that individuals who are on education pathways can use to better inform their choices in terms of postsecondary education. We also hope to produce a closer linkage between employers and higher education. There’s this triangle that encompasses higher education, employers and employees, and if you can get that triangle functioning on a regular basis at all points, I think that it provides a significant opportunity for success.

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Helping Communities Grow

We are actively engaged in projects throughout the country, helping communities grow and prosper.

Here are a few examples of current work.

  • Mapping target sector learning opportunities in Tulsa, OK and Nashville, TN
  • Helping dislocated manufacturing workers in Indianapolis apply their skills in other growth industries
  • Creating workforce partnerships for the information technology industry in communities across Iowa
  • Facilitating transfer of military STEM skills into high demand civilian occupations in Seattle, WA
  • Helping colleges across Missouri to align their programs with industry certifications
  • Helping colleges in Mississippi, Colorado, Illinois and West Virginia grant college credit for work-based and other prior learning
  • Building a pipeline of skilled workers for Northwest Arkansas’s high growth sectors
  • Building a career pathways community of practice in Monterey, CA

Workforce and Economic Development

Q1 2017 Upcoming Events at a Glance

16th Annual Kansas Workforce Summit
Capitol Plaza Hotel Topeka
1717 SW Topeka Blvd | Topeka, KS
1/18-1/19
Website

2017 Taney County Community Workforce Summit
Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks
1 Opportunity Ave. | Point Lookout, MO
1/31
Website

Wisconsin Economic Development Association Governor’s Conference on Economic Development
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
509 W. Wisconsin Ave. | Milwaukee, WI
2/8-2/10
Website

2017 Workforce Development Symposium
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
1101 Lincoln St. | Columbia, SC
2/8-2/9
Website

The Ohio Continuing Higher Education Association (OCHEA)*
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
175 Hutchinson Ave. | Columbus, OH
3/23-3/24
Website

The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) Forum 2017*
Washington Hotel
1919 Connecticut Ave. NW |Washington, DC
3/25-3/28
Website

The Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA) Spring Legislative Conference
Hilton Harrisburg and Towers
1 N 2nd St. | Harrisburg, PA
4/24-4/26
Website

*CAEL will be among the featured speakers