Call to Order and Roll Call
Thesecond meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, August 1, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ken Winters called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Reginald Meeks, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, R.J. Palmer II, Johnny Ray Turner, Mike Wilson, and Ken Winters; Representatives C. B. Embry Jr., Donna Mayfield, Ryan Quarles, Jody Richards, Rita Smart, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Jim Thompson, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; and Janet Hoover, Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE).
Bridging Kentucky’s Workforce Skills Gap
Beth Brinly, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment, said the partnership between the Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), and the KYAE is a collaborative effort to address the workforce skills gap in Kentucky. The partnership is grounded in policy alignment, strategic investments, alignment of resources, and fostering a community of collaboration at the local level to model the state level.
Jay Box, Chancellor, KCTCS, said “Accelerating Opportunity” is an exciting and new initiative of the Jobs for the Future program. It is funded through five different foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Kentucky received $200,000 for the planning grant and hopes to receive an implementation grant in November 2011. The total grant would be $1.6 million for the state.
Dr. Box said “Accelerating Opportunity” allows KCTCS to work collaboratively with several partners to accelerate the learning of adult education students who have returned to college. The program focuses on getting adult education students through their developmental education courses and career and technical education training so they can quickly return to the workforce. Partners include: Kentucky Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development; Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; KCTCS; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and KYAE; Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment; Kentucky Workforce Investment Board; and business and industry partners.
Dr. Box said the new program will build on Kentucky’s career pathways investments and capacity-building efforts to increase credential attainment for lower-skilled adults. The program will strengthen instructional delivery, including integration, acceleration, and co-enrollment, to improve the overall adult education instruction and sequencing. The program will also link the adult education curriculum to the labor market and include employer input.
Dr. Box said the Accelerating Opportunity grant requirements include: selecting eight community colleges to test an integrated basic skills model; producing 3,600 students with marketable credentials by October 2014; having state and institutional policy support; making postsecondary data base modifications for student tracking; scaling the model across the state; and documenting program costs. The eight KCTCS pilot institutions are Gateway, Maysville, Jefferson, Owensboro, Bluegrass, Madisonville, West Kentucky, and Southeast Kentucky. KCTCS has invested $1.2 million to begin the pilot project this year, whether they get the grant or not. He said adult education has agreed to provide the teaching staff regardless of the grant status as well.
Dr. Box said KCTCS is involved in the Kentucky Workforce Investment Network System (KY WINS) incumbent workforce training initiative. It provides customized training for incumbent workers based on an employer’s current and emerging workforce needs. KY WINS funds 65 percent with employers paying 35 percent of the training cost for services delivered by KCTCS colleges. Since 2001, KY WINS has funded 1,090 projects; and 985 are completed, 105 remain active, and 166,919 participants are projected to be served through training and assessment. The average wage for trainees is $23.49 an hour.
Dr. Box said KCTCS has a statewide workforce transition initiative focusing on incumbent workers who have some college credit but have not achieved an academic credential. Kentucky is also part of a multi-state initiative with Michigan and North Carolina to support degree completion for adults with some college credit. The Adult Degree Completion program is funded by the Lumina Foundation and led by Jobs for the Future.
Dr. Box said developmental education courses are being added to the online transitional program Learn On Demand, which is a modular, self-paced, online learning system for adults needing basic skills. Developmental courses in math, reading, and writing will be available through Learn on Demand in Fall 2011.
Dr. Box said there is a KCTCS degree designed for federal or state certified apprenticeship programs. Students can receive up to 24 college credits for the on-the-job training portion of the apprenticeship. He said technical training for the apprenticeship is aligned to KCTCS programs. An additional 19 college credits in general education and 3 college credits for computer literacy are required for the degree. The apprenticeship program is available at Jefferson and West Kentucky. KCTCS is coordinating with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet to promote the apprenticeship degree statewide.
Mr. Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President, KYAE, CPE, said the National Commission on Adult Literacy is asking Congress and state governments to make postsecondary and workforce readiness the new mission of the adult education and workforce skills system. He noted companies are looking at human capital infrastructure when deciding on where to locate. He said individuals without a high school diploma are two times as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to be in poverty, and eight times more likely to be incarcerated. Workers need more than the GED to keep up with the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
Mr. Stagnolia said in 2002 the share of jobs requiring at least some formal postsecondary education or training was 74 percent. Each year, employers are demanding higher skills at all levels. It is estimated that by 2013 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs, 60 percent of all new jobs, and 40 percent of manufacturing jobs will require some form of postsecondary education.
Mr. Stagnolia said Kentucky has produced over 100,000 GED graduates in the last 10 years. Kentucky ranks as 13th highest in the nation in the percent of non-high school completers obtaining a GED. He said partnerships with key agencies will help Kentucky make further progress at a faster pace.
Mr. Stagnolia said KYAE serves students who do not have a high school credential; possess a high school credential, but need academic skills for college and career readiness; are unable to speak, read, or write the English language; and have significant challenges, many financial. He noted that 50 to 80 percent of KYAE students have a learning disability that might be undetected, and 70 percent are functioning below a 9th grade level.
Mr. Stagnolia said GED graduates enrolling in Kentucky’s colleges and universities within two academic years increased slightly in 2009-2010 to 23 percent. He noted 93 percent of adult education students enroll in KCTCS as a point of entry to postsecondary education.
Mr. Stagnolia discussed the three KYAE strategies to meet the needs of adult learners. He said Kentucky was the first state to adopt common core standards and adult education will do the same. It is important for adult education students to meet rigorous standards and enter into postsecondary education not needing developmental education.
Mr. Stagnolia said the second goal of adult education is to provide success coaches to work with these students who often do not have access to guidance counselors or parents to help them navigate through the educational process. He said student success strategies are critical for student success.
Mr. Stagnolia said the Skill Up Kentucky initiative is a contextualized GED program that emphasizes the integration of 21st Century skills through problem-based instructional activities targeting a variety of workplace contexts. Through this innovative new program, students obtain their GED while developing a wide range of professional soft skills to enhance their marketability for the global workplace of the 21st century. At the end of the six-month adult education program, students earn their GED, National Career Readiness Certificate, Microsoft digital literacy certification, and college credits in the field of study.
Ms. Beth Brinly, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment, said the WorkSmart Kentucky Plan was derived from the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board’s strategic plan. It has four goals: align with education objectives of the state; align with economic development objectives; simplify the workforce development system; and achieve customer-centered service delivery.
Ms. Brinly said one of the major partnership efforts of the WorkSmart Kentucky Plan was identifying sector strategies. A steering committee was comprised of people from key agencies who identified a set of sectors that would be a priority of all the partner agencies and align strategic investments and resources to prepare the citizens of the Commonwealth for high-wage jobs. She said five state sectors have been identified as critical and endorsed by all the partner agencies: energy creation and transmission; auto and aircraft manufacturing; business services and research; health and social services; and transportation and logistics.
Ms. Brinly said the same process was used to determine three to five key regional sectors. A number of the local areas have already identified regional sectors, but the process is on-going across the Commonwealth. She noted an online sector toolkit was developed to enable regional and state sector information to be shared. The sector toolkit can be accessed at kysectorstrategies.com. She said the employer community will determine what career pathways are critical for their company’s growth and expansion. She said the career pathways will lead to industry certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. The information will also be used to overhaul the eligible training provider list to help individuals make informed choices about pathway options that will provide a family sustaining wage and allow them to remain in their community.
Ms. Brinly said another focus is on high impact Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs). WIBs grow a strong and engaged board that drives the vision, mission, objectives, and implementation steps. They set clear strategic direction, and manage assets effectively and efficiently. She said local WIBs receive feedback reports and can apply for technical assistance resources to address issues deficiencies.
Ms. Brinly said the Work Ready Communities initiative is to support efforts at the local and regional levels to address the skills gaps in Kentucky. The new program is designed to transform local economies and give counties a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and jobs. The program promotes collaboration among key community stakeholders including education, economic development, elected officials, employers, workforce agencies, and community organizations as they work toward common community goals. She said each community must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. To earn certification, counties will have to meet established criteria in six areas: high school graduation rate; National Career Readiness Certificate holders; demonstrated community commitment; educational attainment; soft skills development; and availability of internet and digital literacy.
Ms. Brinly said WorkSmart Kentucky wants to be a solution based business services partner with the employer community. She said this includes having user friendly online services and a one-stop certification process. It includes rapid response redesign, which responds to the needs of businesses throughout its complete life cycle.
Ms. Brinly said WorkSmart Kentucky is partnering with KYAE and KCTCS on the National Career Readiness Certificate effort. They are able to do job profiling and help match people with jobs. She noted the program is demonstrating a new brand and identity in hopes that it is more readily recognized across the state.
Approval of Minutes
With a quorum being present, Senator Wilson moved to approve the minutes of the July 11, 2011, meeting and Representative Meeks seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by voice vote.
Bridging Kentucky’s Workforce Skills Gap – Continued
In response to questions from Senator Winters, Ms. Brinly said the local workforce investment board works with the community college system, the economic development community, and local elected officials to identify the three to five sectors regionally that are specific to that economy. The local board forwards the recommendation after consensus is reached.
In response to a question from Senator Winters, Mr. Stagnolia said the GED Express program is being implemented and was modeled after the Opportunity School for Women program in Berea, Kentucky. He said the program works with the military and targets individuals not in the educational pipeline to fast track their work on GED attainment in an intense and focused learning environment. He noted the statistics regarding GED graduates enrolling in Kentucky’s colleges and universities within two years did not include individuals who took the GED for military purposes unless they also enrolled in postsecondary education.
In response to a question from Senator Winters, Mr. Stagnolia said the adult education program works with very few students who have some college credit. He noted adult education students must test below a 12th grade level to receive services. He said about 30 percent of adult education students have a GED or a high school diploma.
In response to a question from Senator Winters, Dr. Box said KCTCS will give academic credit for experiential learning. He said department heads may meet with employers to validate the skills the individual learned on the job and then award credit for the corresponding courses.
Responding to questions from Senator Wilson, Dr. Box said KCTCS uses a standard evaluation tool to help individuals determine their career pathways. It is a survey that allows students to work through a series of questions to help determine strengths and interest areas. Ms. Brinly said the WorkSmart Kentucky Program uses a bank of assessment tools based upon career interest. Mr. Stagnolia said KYAE utilizes the assessments provided in the Kentucky Career Centers.
Mr. Stagnolia said that soft skills such as integrity and work ethic are embedded in the adult education curriculum. He said problem solving, communication, critical thinking skills, and knowing the importance of showing up to work on time are integrated in student instruction. Ms. Brinly said the Kentucky Career Centers provide workshops to teach soft skills. The Work Ready Community initiative will use a soft skills measurement tool at the high school level and another for the adult worker population. She said it will be a community driven process and the resources and measurement tools will be shared. Dr. Box said soft skills are embedded in all KCTCS technical program curriculum.
Dr. Box testified that funds set for the KY WINS project were established in 2000-2001. The General Assembly appropriates $1.6 million each year to the program.
Responding to questions from Representative Richards, Mr. Stagnolia said the adult education program relies on census data to identify how many people in an area do not have a high school diploma. He noted 40 percent of students who enroll in the adult education program are functioning below a 6th grade level.
Mr. Stagnolia noted that adult education is a non-compulsory program. He said a big challenge is to think of ways to inspire and motivate the students at the lowest levels to become involved in the program. It is important for the educational pipeline that local adult education programs are encouraged to recruit lower level students to address the skills gap. KYAE is looking at strategies utilizing technology as a way to engage lower level students. Some of the students can use technology, but many at the lower reading levels need high-touch instruction as well.
In response to Representative Richards, Dr. Box testified that the criteria used to select the eight community colleges for the Accelerating Opportunity initiative was to select rural, urban, and suburban areas to ensure all parts of the state were represented. KCTCS selected some community colleges that had adult education grants and others that they had established good working relationships with like Jefferson County. KCTCS also looked at which of the colleges had a true commitment to the workforce in the area and were working with WIBs. He said 13 colleges were ready to go, but KCTCS had to narrow it down to 8.
In response to a question from Representative Wuchner, Dr. Box said he did not know if the students that were receiving work and life experience had to pay for the college credit per credit hour, but he would investigate and report back to the committee. He noted that a testing fee is charged for students who opt to test out of college courses.
Senator Winters said the regional universities tend to not charge students for acquiring college credit for experiential experience or if they pass a CLEP test. He said they normally charge an administrative or posting fee for those credentials.
Responding to comments and questions from Representative Meeks, Ms. Brinly said the infrastructure for the workforce investment system in the Commonwealth of Kentucky did not receive the priority it needed during good economic times. She said there are 54 technology projects underway to improve resources and services to customers. An interactive telephone bank is being implemented across the state and will help busy offices. The user-friendly online service will also review work eligibility and post work referrals so individuals do not have to come in person to the office every six weeks. The online system will indicate if individuals followed up on work suggestions and initiated contact to obtain employment.
Ms. Brinly said restructuring the delivery system should speed up the process and eliminate work backlogs at a time when federal resources are dwindling. She also noted employers, such as the Ford company based in Louisville, has a voice in how applicants apply for jobs. She noted additional staff was brought from other offices in Frankfort to meet employer demands in handling applicants. The Office of Workforce Investment has also received a $1 million reemployment and assistance grant from the federal government in order to target individuals who are most likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits and get them in for early intervention. She said these individuals need to get on the fast track to receive training before all their benefits have been exhausted.
In response to a question from Representative Meeks, Ms. Brinly said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resources have been exhausted and workers have been laid off, contributing to less customer service to unemployed individuals. She noted ongoing restructuring efforts should help the problem. She said the employment and training system in Kentucky experienced a 20 to 36 percent cut to programs, but will continue to invest in state employees and technology to help serve customers. She noted KCTCS has helped in this endeavor by granting a partial tuition waiver in order to keep current trainees enrolled in the system.
Responding to questions from Representative Smart, Ms. Brinly explained the signage for the Kentucky Career Centers and said the new brand will apply to all of the offices associated with the Department of Workforce Investment. The final result should be a pipeline that meets the employer and community needs. She said the Kentucky Career and Technical Education efforts should support the career pathways identified in the regional sector strategies and support career coaches. She noted career coaches talk to individuals about transferring credits, applying for financial aid, planning for college, and discussing the rigor of courses to help them expedite their career goals.
Senator Winters said the Career and Technical Education Task Force is focusing on the secondary level and some middle school programs. He said the task force report will be heard at the November Interim Joint Committee on Education meeting. He also noted that Senator Westwood’s career pathway bill identifies career counselors that basically do the same things as a career coach. It is important for these career counselors and coaches to foster, coerce, coach, and inspire these students for the program to be successful. He noted that collaboration and partnerships will make Kentucky’s future bright. He credited Senate Bill 1 in part for encouraging KCTCS, Department for Workforce Investment, CPE, KYAE, the Department of Education, and labor and industry for working together and he commended their work.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.