States Advance Data Tools

Bryan Wilson
November 23, 2016

On November 16 and 17, forty leaders from seven states met in Chicago to advance the use of data tools to inform state workforce development policies. The State Leadership Forum was part of the State Workforce and Education Alignment Project (SWEAP), a project of National Skills Coalition.

Staff from WDQC, which is also a project of National Skills Coalition, attended the event to discuss state progress on data systems and facilitate conversation on effective use of data tools.

With the generous support of JPMorgan Chase Foundation and USA Funds, SWEAP is creating better cross-program information that allows state policy leaders to see how these programs can work together to meet employer skill needs, and how individuals can advance through these programs over time in the pursuit of postsecondary credentials and higher-paying employment.

SWEAP is assisting California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island in developing three types of data tools: dashboards, pathway evaluators, and supply and demand reports. Dashboards use a small number of common metrics to report education and employment outcomes across workforce development programs. Pathway evaluators show how people use a range of education and training programs to earn credentials and move into jobs. Supply and demand reports display how the supply of newly credentialed workers compares to the number of workers that employers need.

At the Forum, state teams consisting of Governor’s Offices, legislators, state workforce agencies, state higher education agencies, state workforce development boards, and others demonstrated their data tools and discussed how information from the tools can impact policy. In addition to the four SWEAP states, attending the Forum were representatives from three new states: Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan. 

The states shared many ideas on how information from the tools can impact state policies. Among them, the data can: inform resource allocations and postsecondary program offerings; identify key industries for sector partnerships; pinpoint talent pipelines for business recruitment and job growth; be an important part of state career guidance policies; identify effective pathway programs.  Also, the process itself of building the tools can point out gaps in a state’s data infrastructure that require administrative or legislative fixes.

In the coming months, National Skills Coalition will share lessons learned during SWEAP with additional states, through a webinar and reports from each of the states and on the project overall. Also, WDQC staff will be available to assist other states with enacting state policies that support data tools.