From Job Training Lapses to a Lack of Data Sharing

March 16, 2010 by Emsi Burning Glass

image of Lightcast gradiant

Several enlightening community college-oriented articles and reports have come out recently. Here’s a quick rundown.

Inside Higher Ed gives a good synopsis of a Center for American Progress policy paper on the lack of “quality, coordinated” career development services. The bottom line, argues CAP, is that the U.S. needs a new career counseling approach so people can find training — and a job.

Choitz suggests that the federal government create a “career navigation service” that compiles all of the education, training and placement resources for job-seekers in one place. And, despite some criticism, she thinks it should be online. …

The system Choitz recommends would provide users with skills assessments, accurate labor market information for their localities and a directory of educational opportunities available to them. There would also be a social networking component that would allow users to interact with peers, counselors and employers for support.

Community College Times has this piece on an AACC policy brief that outlines how workforce data is not readily shared between community colleges. The brief, entitled “Moving Success from the Shadows,” goes in depth on the shortcomings of data collection and sharing between education institutions.

Here’s an excerpt:

Before the workforce outcomes of educational pursuits can be comprehensively analyzed, the following activities or policies need to receive further attention.

1. Encouraging the establishment of postsecondary longitudinal data systems. Nearly half a billion dollars either has been spent or is pending distribution to SEAs for the expressed purpose of building longitudinal data systems based on student-unit records. While the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and the proposed American Graduation Initiative (AGI) encourage the establishment of postsecondary education data systems, the funds have yet to be provided (and AGI is not yet authorized).

2. Providing colleges with access to data. Federal and state legislation need to explicitly authorize providing necessary and appropriate workforce-related data to colleges and their representing agencies, if applicable, while ensuring adequate privacy protections. The substantial institutional reporting burdens associated with federal programs would be greatly reduced if colleges were given the ability to more fully interact with existing data systems and exchange partnerships that track individual workforce outcomes.

3. Collecting comprehensive employment data. Collecting individual-level education and workforce outcome data across various state and federal departments, agencies, and partnerships must somehow take into account the role that individual choice plays in a given career path as well as the fact
that, currently, employment data are not available for all categories of employment. Thus, collecting data that truly reflect occupational success for any given trainee is an immensely complicated issue that merits further analysis.

Lastly, Inside Higher Ed also this look at what’s happening to the American Graduation Initiative and how community colleges have benefited from increased attention.