A Plan of Action for America’s Governors

by Michelle Massie
July 16, 2014

As the nation awaits the release of the Obama Administration’s report on job-driven training, National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released her initiative’s final report, An Action Guide for Governors, which describes how gubernatorial leadership can help to prepare America’s workforce to remain competitive.

Gov. Fallin’s yearlong initiative, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs, has focused on making significant improvements to education systems and workforce training programs and aligning those systems with the needs of business and labor markets.

An analysis of the report shows that it highlights some key elements of WDQC’s policy agenda. National Governors Association serves in an advisory role to WDQC.

In the report, NGA identified four policy components that lay out a plan for governors to improve and better align state education and training results with industry demand for a more equipped and better skilled workforce.

The policy components are:

  • Articulate and implement a strong vision connecting a state’s education and training pipeline with the needs of its economy to have more Americans achieve the “new minimum” of a postsecondary degree or certificate with labor market value;
  • Integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress, and measure success;
  • Support and scale industry and education partnerships to get results; and
  • Modify the use of resources and incentives to support the attainment of the integrated vision.

The first two policy components listed above -- Articulate and implement a strong vision connecting a state’s education and training pipeline with the needs of its economy; and integrate and use education and workforce data – are of particular interest to WDQC.

Building on the principles of our policy agenda, WDQC released our recommendations for federal action – both legislative and administrative – that would support better data for accountability, transparency and program improvement. Similar recommendations could be applied at the state level as well. For instance, whenever possible and appropriate, WDQC recommends requirements to report both degrees and non-degree credentials attained by program participants. This recommendation aligns with NGA’s goal to have more Americans achieve the “new minimum” of a postsecondary degree or certificate with labor market value. WDQC also supports the use of labor market information to ensure alignment between education/training programs and employer needs.

Another element of WDQC’s policy agenda – ensuring data access and appropriate use – is reflected in NGA’s second goal.

The NGA report offers state examples that demonstrate each of its policy components.

For example, several states including Florida, Missouri, Texas and Virginia demonstrate the second policy component – integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress, and measure success – by providing workforce earnings data in various forms (reports, dashboards) for students who graduate from their state’s public colleges and universities.

Governors have influence over their state’s public education, workforce and economic development plans; therefore, they are posed to foster changes in their states that encourage stronger connections and better alignment and accountability between education and workforce systems.