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A Two-Year Review of Workforce Education

A Two-Year Review of Workforce Education

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One of the newsletters that I regularly read is Workforce Monitor. In July, Editor-in-Chief George Lorenzo published A Review of Workforce Education, 2020 to 2022: Two Years of Enormous Change.

The report is organized with the following topics.

  • Skills Shift
  • Enrollment Conundrum
  • Unprepared Learners
  • Numerous Workforce Education Resources
  • On Data
  • Reskilling
  • The Microcredential Craze
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Growth of Apprenticeships
  • Building LERS, CLRS & a Comprehensive Navigator

Like others, Mr. Lorenzo writes about the shifting skills in jobs. He cites an Emsi Burning Glass report from May noting four trends related to skills change. These are:

  • Digital skills
  • Soft skills in digital occupations
  • Visual communications
  • Social media skills

These are broader categories than the 20 top skills published by LinkedIn and appear to cover those areas.

Mr. Lorenzo provides an excellent overview of a complicated topic when he writes about the Enrollment Conundrum. Beginning with the significant drop in community college enrollment during the pandemic, Mr. Lorenzo links that with a Strada Education report on enrollment hesitancy indicating that confidence in higher ed’s ability to advance careers was down 13 percentage points. Not surprisingly, cost and finding time to attend college were two of the potential enrollment obstacles cited in the report. Mr. Lorenzo also writes about the research conducted by New America regarding fewer non-completers returning to college.

The lack of preparation of learners for college was another topic tackled by Mr. Lorenzo. He cites a Hechinger Report article written by Kathryn Boucher explaining how the disruption of high school caused by the pandemic has led to fewer students who are adequately prepared for college. I would argue that the problem with poor preparation for college began long before the pandemic which only accentuated the situation.

The numerous workforce education resources cited by Mr. Lorenzo are excellent and are regularly reported in his newsletter. For example, he cited Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) ranking of the economic value of college business programs. In addition to citing specific reports issued during the two-year period, Mr. Lorenzo notes that other major publishers of information about workforce education include:

The list is quite extensive and, in some ways, supports following and signing up for curated sources of workforce information rather than all these sites.

On Data is a topic that resonates with anyone tracking the biased and sometimes inaccurate reports from any number of sources on either side of the political spectrum. Mr. Lorenzo cites several articles and special reports of the Workforce Monitor. He specifically mentions that there is not enough data about non-degree credentials (NDCs). He also provides links to Workforce Monitor’s labor market webpage and metadata webpage.

For the report’s section on Reskilling, Mr. Lorenzo cites a CEW report titled Workforce Basics: The Competencies Employers Want as an in-depth resource for the topic. He notes that within specific industries, only certain combinations of soft and technical skills are worth pursuing through combinations of higher education and training. For example, computer programming languages are subject to volatility in demand from employers. He also extensively mentions the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2020 as a primary source of data about how many employees will require reskilling thanks to changing trends in technology.

The Workforce Monitor regularly covers Microcredentials and it’s not surprising that Mr. Lorenzo refers to this section as the Microcredential Craze. Mr. Lorenzo cites a June Workforce Monitor article that provides an excellent overview of the area that some critics refer to as “the Wild West.” He also mentions digital badges in this section and links to a webpage on his site that covers badges.

Mr. Lorenzo lists ten Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion organizations as well as his Workforce Intermediaries webpage that specifically position professional social capital as a core part of the learning and work experiences that they provide. Among the reports that he cites as worth reading are JFF’s How Intermediaries Can Help Black and Latinx Youth Develop a Strong Occupational Identity: Four Principles of Practice and Brookings’ Institutionalizing inclusive growth: Rewiring systems to rebuild local economies.

The Growth of Apprenticeships section of the report notes their apprenticeships webpage, an article about federal grants shaping the space, and an article about Achieve Partners’ initiatives in the apprenticeship space.

Learning and Employment Records (LERs) and Comprehensive Learner Records (CLRs) are topics of increased interest in workforce education. Mr. Lorenzo references an article that Workforce Monitor published in April of 2022 that describes the ongoing quest to align colleges around a common standard for these specific CLRs. He also references a JFF Labs report that references seven digital wallet providers viewed as innovators in the LER/CLR field. Lastly, he mentions that the creation of an efficient, data-rich workforce navigation system (called a “navigator”) could potentially help navigate the labor market mess operating within federal and state governments. Unfortunately, he notes, one has not yet been created.

There is no shortage of reports or data regarding the trends in workforce education and credentialing. Thankfully, for those of us who have an interest but not the time to investigate, there are curated sources like Workforce Monitor that you can subscribe to at no cost and receive a bi-weekly newsletter.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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