Maryland Leaders Consider Data Tools for Policymakers

Jenna Leventoff
April 20, 2017

WDQC, in collaboration with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center, held a packed meeting this week about using data tools to impact policy change in Maryland. At the meeting, more than 35 representatives of Maryland state and local governments, postsecondary academic institutions, and Maryland-oriented foundations joined together to learn about data tools for policymakers and discuss how they could be used to further Maryland’s policy priorities.

Domenico "Mimmo" Parisi and Zack Krampf, of the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (nSPARC) at Mississippi State University, began the meeting with a demonstration of three data tools they have created for Mississippi: 

  • Dashboard - uses a small number of common metrics to report on education and employment outcomes across workforce development programs;
  • Pathway evaluator - shows the best pathways to gain skills for work in particular industries; and,
  • Supply and demand report - compares the number of trained workers in a state to the number of workers that employers need, in order to help align training with employer demand.

They explained how Mississippi policymakers have used these tools, and data more generally, to make policy decisions in the state. For example, Mississippi used data to identify gaps in its skilled workforce, and created a workforce training fund to help workers gain skills required by employers moving into the state.

Mississippi’s tools were created as a part of National Skills Coalition’s State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP). The project seeks to create better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how education and workforce training programs can work together, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment. SWEAP is assessing how state policy leaders find such information useful for improving workforce development policy, and ultimately educational and labor market outcomes for program participants.

After the demonstration of Mississippi’s SWEAP tools, the conversation shifted to Maryland’s policy needs, its data tool priorities, and the potential challenges the state faces in creating data tools. MLDS staff will take this information to its Research and Policy board in the hopes of building its own SWEAP tools and promoting a better understanding of the connection between education and employment in the state.

You can learn more about the SWEAP project here. Moving forward, WDQC plans to provide assistance to states seeking to implement SWEAP data tools. If your state is interested in implementing SWEAP tools, please contact us at info@workforcedqc.org.