WDQC Hosts 2015 Annual State Advisors Fly-In

By Jenna Leventoff
September 17, 2015

Last week, WDQC hosted its second annual State Advisors Fly-In, “Implementing for Impact,” in Washington D.C. The two-day conference brought together 18 state representatives, WDQC’s national partner organizations, and the federal government to discuss various topics related to data collection and use.

The event featured discussions about Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) implementation, cross-state data sharing, the impact of data on workforce policy, credential measurement, and state legislation pertaining to data systems and use. Several themes permeated the meeting, including:

·         Interstate Cooperation – several meeting participants noted that interstate cooperation could help states economize on fixed costs and save time. Examples of ways that states could cooperate include sharing the code for federally funded systems, as well as sharing successful technical assistance approaches and methods for data analysis. The event even facilitated interstate cooperation, as officials from two different states began strategizing for a new interstate data sharing agreement.

·         Funding for More Analysts – several state representatives lamented their lack of staff capacity to analyze existing data. These states emphasized the need for federal and state grants that specifically provide funding for staffing. Increased staff capacity would enable states to glean useful information about education and workforce programs from data they already collect.  

·         Clear Articulation of the Benefits of Data – Many state representatives report that policymakers in their states don’t understand the benefits of data. Accordingly, clear articulation of what data is used for, and how it has led to change could help earn policymaker support of data systems.

The Fly-In included two sessions with federal employees. During the first day of the Fly-In, state and partner organization representatives spoke with federal officials from the Department of Education (ED), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Census Bureau, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, led federal officials in emphasizing the importance of high-quality data for supporting effective education and training programs, and listening to policy suggestions from state representatives, as well as concerns about the difficulties of complying with certain federal mandates.  

WDQC Director Rachel Zinn moderates the panel of federal employees

During the second day of the Fly-In, WDQC hosted a Congressional briefing, in cooperation with Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, entitled “Data Driven Workforce: Federal Policy Lessons from States.” At the briefing, state representatives told Congressional staff how their states have effectively used data to assist educators, students, policymakers, and businesses. The state speakers were:

·         Kate Akers, Acting Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, discussed how Kentucky policymakers use county profiles for strategic planning. The profiles show consistent metrics for each county in the state, and include information about educational attainment and employment.

·         Scott Godfrey, Performance Measures Analyst at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, explained how Minnesota’s Graduate Employment Outcomes Tool provides information about employment supply and demand, the skills gap, and career pathways.

·         Carol Rogers, Deputy Director of the Indiana Business Research Center, discussed Indiana’s efforts to apply occupation codes to wage records, in order to track career pathways and measure outcomes.

WDQC Director Rachel Zinn closed the Congressional briefing by explaining how federal policymakers could learn from state experiences, and support informative uses of data.   

WDQC would like to thank those who attended the event, and whose thoughtful discussion made it such a success. We look forward to next year’s Fly-In.