Data Trailblazers Address Skills Summit

by Christina Pena
February 11, 2015
WDQC hosted a panel discussion on “Workforce Development in the States: Progress and Possibility,” earlier this week at the National Skills Coalition’s annual Skills Summit, held just outside of Washington, DC.

Data experts address WDQC Skills Summit event

Director Rachel Zinn moderated the expert panel. The session included a discussion of promising practices and the challenges states face in compiling, matching, and using data to monitor training and credential attainment, and their relevance to workforce progress.


She reviewed the progress her own state has made in developing such scorecards. Services that receive funding in New Jersey must provide data on all training recipients’ employment outcomes and wages, and not only on those students who receive public funding. Employers and people looking for training can access the scorecards at  New Jersey is also in the process of developing performance dashboards for roll out later in 2015.

  • Matthew Meyer, North Carolina Community Colleges, and the Workforce Credentials Coalition (WCC) highlighted pilot programs designed to track certifications through education and workforce data systems with the long-term goal of facilitating analyses on the utility of various credentials for the labor market.

He described WCC's pilot program, which aims to obtain certification data more efficiently than conducting post-program surveys by using the National Student Clearinghouse as a repository for data obtained directly from industry associations. The pilot program has been matching records between National Institute for Metal Working Skills certifications and community colleges in several states, including California, North Carolina, and Virginia. The next step in this project will be to match those data with Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage data. He also described another pilot program that has relied in part on data-sharing arrangements between CompTIA (provider of information technology certifications) and states such as Iowa, Illinois, Florida, and Kentucky. For this program, data are going directly to the states rather than to a third party.

  • Nancy Sharkey, National Center for Education Statistics at U.S. Department of Education, provided an overview of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grants to states. She described how grants have enabled many states to make the transition from gathering data to setting up systems that can inform education and workforce policies.

Challenges for states include data governance, sustainable funding, and effectively using data to affect decision-making. She cited a particular need for states to be able to learn from one another and to bring SLDS and Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grant managers together. The Department plans to publish a solicitation for a new round of SLDS grant applications within the next few months.

The session concluded with questions and comments from state and local workforce experts in the audience. Topics included the challenge of receiving contradictory information from federal officials on the legality of data sharing, the ongoing need to vet credential measurement with employers, and ensuring that training providers report on the employment outcomes of those they have served.