Confronting the Skills Crisis And Workforce
Challenges of the New World Economy


Volume 5, Number 1, June 2012

Please submit articles and news items to the NOCC office for inclusion in future newsletters and on the CRCC web site.

Previous NOCC newsletters are available at the NOCC/Resources site.

In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development and Education News
  • CRC Consortium News


  • 2012 Careers Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison Center on Education and Work, January 28-30, The Concourse Hotel, Madison.


  • "Old models, which lock us into one way of thinking or looking at educational reform through the lens of only one model to the exclusion of all others, are no longer viable. Events are moving too fast. The future is too unpredictable. We have to expand our thinking, consider all possibilities, and take the best from all models and disciplines".
    This is a major conclusion of the the Education and Human Capital Requirements Roundtable, convened by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation and the US Council Foundation, released in a white paper in May 2012. They further conclude we need to have a "deeply cogent, synthetic, openminded, and continuous conversation--accompanied by policymaker input, expert opinion, and popular awareness-building--about how we can all act together to transform our educational systems to respond effectively to global 21st Century needs and aspirations". Exploring Approaches to Lifelong Learning for the 21st. Century is available for free download.

Among the employability issues Farell raises in the article are: Graduating students seem to have little idea what kinds of jobs are expanding and where the career opportunities lie; Employers are struggling to grasp the qualification of applicants; and Training standards and education benchmarks vary greatly throughout the country.

Apparently, technological job search tools are not filling the need so it has been suggested that we need a national database showing which jobs are in demand, locally and nationally, married to national standards for certifying the skills of college graduates as potential employees.

Separately, these ideas are not new--in fact they have been around for decades (remember the National Skill Standards initiative, and other similar standardization efforts?). What DOES seem to be new in this recommendation is the suggested marriage between the supply side and the demand side of the employment equation.

In the meantime, it seems that our technological advances have flooded employers with tens of thousands of online applications none of which address the employer's main question--What type of worker will the applicant be? That's why, at least for the foreseeable future, personal recommendations and word of mouth are still among the best tools for getting a job.

  • Indiana has adopted legislation that will allow WIA training funds to be used for prior learning assessments (PLA). This is a recognition of PLA as a key workforce development strategy, and the legislation forces law-makers to develop policies that will help residents translate on-the-job experience into college credit. This is espeically good news for returning veterans. Similar PLA discussions are underway in Oregon.
  • By 2020, one in four children enrolled in the K-12 public school system will be Latino. Raising the achievement level of these children is described as a "Demographic Imperative" in Education Week (June 2012). Educational outcomes for Latino students lag far behind those of most other ethnic and racial groups and addressing this issue is a key factor in the future economy. For example:
    • 17.6% of Hispanic 16-24 year-olds dropped out of high school in 2009
    • Among 25-64 year-olds, 64% have finished high school, and in the class of 2009, that number is 63%
    • Among 25-64 year-olds, roughly 37% have completed some college course work or an associate degree

    However, according to NAEP results and participation rates in AP exams, Latinos have made more progress toward closing the achievement gap with their white peers than African-American students have.

    Limited or no participation in pre-kindergarten programs, poor English-speaking skills in the first school grades, and low expectations for high academic performance among older children have been cited as key issues in this important issue.

  • "Unemployment Among Recent Law Graduates Is as Bad as It's Ever Been". This headline to a June 2012 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education is perhaps an indicator of the depth of the problems in the US economy. Katherine Mangan reports on data released by the National Association for Law Placement:

    • 85.6% of 2011 law graduates whose employment status is known had jobs 9 months after leaving law school. However, hidden within this data are those graduates who are working part-time or in jobs that do not require a law degree.
    • Only 65.4% of employed graduates were working in positions that required them to pass a bar examination. This proportion is more than 9 percentage points below what it was in 2008.
  • "We're Losing Our Minds" (Palgrave Macmillan) by Richard H. Hersh and Richard P. Keeling focuses on the quality of learning and education--or lack thereof--in many colleges and universities. In February 2012, Hersh and Keeling participated in a Q&A session that was reported in Inside Higher Ed. Among their provocative observations--
    • "There's no question that high costs are a problem. But low value is a bigger problem."
    • "And we can only improve value by increasing the quality and quantity of learning in college."
    • "Students--and their minds--respond to high expectations."
    • "Access, retention, and completion rates are not--or, at least, should not be-considered ends in themselves."
    • "The culture of higher education does not elevate teaching and its intended purpose, learning, to high priority."
    • "Faculty must both lead and be at the center of [cultural] change."

On the current discussion about a three-year bachelor's degree, the authors are not persuaded.

    "Students come to college inadequately prepared for college-level work as it is; even four years may not be adequate for many to learn enough."

They also say that "true higher learning--that is developmental and transformative--happens inside and outside the classroom, takes time, cannot be rushed, and would probably be undermined by a compacted three-year college experience.. . . More is not necessarily better; better is more."

  • In a June 2012, paper in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Anthony Carnevale, director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce warns:

    As long as we are distracted by the blue-collar jobs receding in our rear-view mirror and by short-term budget spats right before us, we are likely to miss the fact that the road we're on leads straight off a cliff.

    In The Real Education Crisis is Just Over That Cliff , Carnevale points out that "this country is disinvesting in higher education at an alarming rate--as it has been doing for decades--and we are hurtling into the future unprepared for the economy that awaits us."

    His comments are supported by data that show that by 2025, we will need 20 million more 2- and 4-year-college graduates, and that if we fail to meet this goal, "we will lose some half a trillion dollars every year in the form of new businesses that never open and technological advances that other countries will make instead of us."

  • A bipartisan group of four US Senators: Warner, Coon, Moran, and Arubio recently sponsored Startup Act 2.0 as a follow-up to the Jobs Act of last year.Watch videos here.

    The legislation is in response to existing and arbitrary caps that it is claimed are forcing almost 20,000 American-educated degree holders to leave the U.S. every year, and in turn, join or set up competitor businesses in competitor countries.

    Supporters of the Startup Act 2.0 legislation include entrepreneurs and business owners across the country who maintain that we currently train the world’s most talented immigrants to innovate and start businesses at our great universities, then send them off to start companies in China, India, and South Korea.

    The Act creates a new STEM visa so that U.S.-educated students who graduate with a masters or PhD in science, technology, engineering or math can receive a green card to stay in country. Second, the Act creates an entrepreneur’s visa for legal immigrants to stay in the United States so long as they start a business that employs American workers. And third, the Act eliminates the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas which currently prevents American CEOs from having the flexibility to recruit the most talented workers.

    The legislation is now under review by the US House.


  • In February 2012, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved a comprehensive waiver application to the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that proposes using multiple measures to evaluate the nearly 4,000 public schools in Illinois. The overarching goal of the waiver is to cut in half achievement gaps and the percent of students not making progress by 2018. As part of the plan, beginning in 2013, grade 11 students will take a third WorkKeys assessment that can help students earn a Career Readiness Certificate confirming employability skills.
  • Also from Illinois comes news that the State Board of Education is seeking information about the use of the CRC with Special Education students. If you have experience or relevant information, please contact the NOCC office.
  • CRC numbers have been updated on the Consortium web site but much of the data comes from the ACT database that shows only the number of NCRCs issued in a state. Where we can, we use the actual state numbers as shown on a state web site but not every state offers this resource. Please check the numbers for your state, and the contact information for your state contact person, and forward any updates to the NOCC office.
  • Here is the current Top 10 list of states and the number of certificates issued so far:
                • GA (267, 454)
                • SC (165, 160)
                • NC (135, 882)
                • MI (134, 415)
                • FL (111, 102)
                • TN (85, 591)
                • OH (84, 815)
                • IN (81, 899)
                • OK (69, 686)
                • VA (44, 213)


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© NOCC, June 2012