WDQC Briefs Federal Leaders

by Rachel Zinn
October 30, 2014

Leaders from the Departments of Education and Labor and the Office of Management and Budget met yesterday with WDQC and its partner organizations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss state progress on collecting and using workforce data.

WDQC presented the results of its new report, which shows how states rank their progress on 13 elements of a strong data system. Across the nation, states are advancing on data governance and measuring employment outcomes, but struggling to collect accurate information on certifications and licenses.  

Meeting participants described several ongoing challenges for states and possible action steps to help alleviate those problems. Discussion topics included:

  • Many states have focused on building the capacity of their data systems, but are not using the data to improve workforce policy and services. A new round of state data system grants from Department of Education, scheduled to be awarded within the next year, will try to incentivize more use of data for program improvement. In some states, like Nevada, employers have asked policy questions that help drive utilization of data.

  • States are getting mixed messages about how to share data while complying with confidentiality rules, especially for wage records. The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, a WDQC partner, explained that its current research on state confidentiality laws and data sharing agreements will identify effective ways for states to legally link data.  

  • Private postsecondary schools, both for-profit and non-profit, rarely have their student records included in state longitudinal data systems. Under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, more data will be required on employment outcomes from these schools when they provide occupational training. Some states (e.g. Washington, New Jersey, Virginia) collect data on a wide range of schools, and their requirements could be replicated.