WDQC Addresses State Officials

by Michelle Massie
March 16, 2015

Rachel Zinn, WDQC Director, served as a panelist during a meeting of the Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI)  grantees held just outside of Washington, DC last week.

The session included a discussion around the theme of “Creating Impact in Changing Contexts.” The idea was to encourage WDQI grantees to look beyond building and maintaining their data systems to utilizing the information contained within to reveal insights about the workforce. 

Rachel focused her remarks on progress made in the development and usage of state data systems. Based on the results of WDQC’s inaugural survey, which reported responses from 40 states plus the District of Columbia, WDQC found that states were making good progress in the areas of interagency data governance, state funding support, and assessing employment outcomes. Even with those strides, there was room for improvement. For instance, states lagged in their ability to measure non-degree credentials, seek industry validation, and perform skills gap analyses.

In addition to state-level successes, Rachel pointed out areas where promising federal developments have occurred, such as language in the proposed college ratings system from the U.S. Department of Education that might provide a means to assess employment outcomes. And, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will no longer issue waivers that allow a state to extend the period of initial eligibility for training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Without this waiver, training providers must report employment outcomes for all the students they serve to remain eligible for WIOA funding.

In addition to Rachel, the panelists were:

Neil Ridley, Director of State Initiatives, Center on Education and the Workforce , Georgetown University, challenged grantees to think about the big research or policy questions that their WDQI-funded data systems could help to answer. He identified three categories where grantees can develop these questions: understanding the credentialing marketplace, charting career pathways, and using predictive analytics to promote participant success. 

Matt Bailey, Co‐Founder, Code for DC, encouraged participants to open their data to the public to spur civic collaboration. He suggested that by making data more accessible and understandable to the public, it could lead to heightened awareness about information contained within these data sets and even lead to data quality improvements and fresh perspectives around the end-user experience.

WDQI grants, administered by DOL, support states in the development of longitudinal databases that will integrate workforce data and create linkages to education data. DOL has awarded four rounds of WDQI grants. The grantee meeting was organized by Social Policy Research Associates, which provides technical assistance for the WDQI program.

WDQC works closely with several state data experts that also represent WDQI grantee states.