Archive for the ‘Workforce’ Category

Introducing the America’s College Promise Act 2015 (H.R. 2962)

Introducing Americas College Act 2015

On July 8, 2015 the House and Senate introduced the America’s College Promise Act 2015. This act would make up to two years of community college tuition-free for up to 9 million qualifying students. Funding could cover 100% of in-state tuition and fees (75% covered by Federal funding, 25% by State funding).

Eligible students:

  1. Must be enrolled in an eligible program at a community college for the first time
  2. Must attend college on at least a half time basis
  3. Must also maintain satisfactory progress in their course of study
  4. Must enroll in:
  • academic programs that fully transfer to a bachelor’s or graduate degree at any public college or university in the state
  • occupational skills training programs that lead to a recognized postsecondary credential in an in-demand industry sector or occupation in the state

The bill includes funding for community college, technical college, tribal colleges and historically black colleges and minority serving institutions.

It’s important to note:

  • The Federal will provide $3.00 for every $1.00 of State funding.
  • States’ must agree to participate.
  • If a State opts-in, colleges must also commit to certain education reforms aimed at improving the quality of the educational experience and its outcomes.
  • This act is in effort to build a strong workforce and global economy.
  • Thus far, this act is not a bi-partisan effort. It was introduces by the democrats with 61 sponsors.
  • With regards to community college, because this funding only applies to academic courses that are transferable to a 4-year institution, it cannot be used for remedial and/or non-transferable pre-requisite college courses.

As of July 2015, this act has not yet passed. It’s simply been ‘introduced’.

Click here and listen to an audio recording of the live press release.

A recent poll  indicated nearly 70% of Americans oppose free community college. Based on the requirements introduced in this bill, what are your thoughts? Yay or nay?


Adult Literacy Education Providers Prep for WIOA’s Integrated Education and Training pt 2



In 2012 the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education produced a 30-page document titled: Promoting College and Career Readiness: Bridge Programs for Low-Skill Adults. If you read through it, you will see very sharp resemblances of what we as Education & Training professionals should be focusing on to  gear up for WIOA changes on our campuses and in our classrooms.  Some of the terms in the report vary from the terms in the WIOA proposal, but the meanings are the same.


Adult Education & WIOA-1

♦♦♦ I will highlight some of the report’s content below ♦♦♦

Create bridge programs (“Pathways”) to  help adult students identify career and education goals and develop the skills, content knowledge, and learning strategies needed to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and employment.

Combine (“Integrate”) basic skill instruction in reading, math, writing, and English language, including preparation for the GED test,  employment skills, and college success strategies. Some bridge programs also offer college credit and certificates (“Nationally recognized credentials”), which may be the first step toward a college degree.

Use state and local labor market information  develop bridge programs focused on occupations or industry sectors with a high demand for employees. ♦ Note: Your local Workforce Investment Board will need to be very involved in your education and training program planning, per WIOA.

For examples of what your education and training programs should emulate, consider these: 

  1. Washington’s I-BEST approach: an integrated ABE (and now ELA) and CTE instructional planning process and co-teaching.
  2.  Oregon Pathways for Adult Basic Skills Transition to Education and Work Initiative (OPABS) provided the impetus for the state’s Adult Basic Skills (ABS) system to incorporate career pathways and assist  in transitioning learners  into further education and employment, including formal connections to postsecondary education and OneStop Career Centers.
  3. (Alabama Community College has also gained recognition for being fairly “WIOA Ready’ and therefore also serve as a great example for planning and implementation.)


Look to form partnerships with organizations such as these:

Jobs for the Future (JFF) Breaking Through and ABE to Credentials initiatives

The Joyce Foundation Shifting Gears initiative

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation New England ABE-to-College Transition project

The time to get involved and to start your transitional planning is now.


Adult Literacy Education Providers Prep for WIOA’s Integrated Education and Training pt 1

November 28, 2014 Leave a comment

WIOA SuccessIn her article “What you need to know: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)” Melinda Mack, Executive Director, New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals says:

 WIOA’s Intention for Literacy is to “deepen connection between Title I and Title II, through nimble career pathways and vocationally focused literacy (most common example is the I-Best model out of Washington State)‘; including serving low-basic skilled”

These career pathways must be in high-skill, high-wage job industries.  Adult Education providers should already be looking for the best ways to fulfill this requirement. The high-skill/high-wage jobs may vary from one area to the next; but, the most typical industries will be healthcare, Computer Science/ Computer Network Technology, Accounting, and Manufacturing Technology. According to ManPower Group, The 10 Hardest Jobs To Fill In 2014 are:

I’m pretty sure career pathways in these industries would satisfy WIOA’s intentions for integrated, job-driven training. Adult education providers should check with your local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) for education and training needs for your region. The WIB produces reports showing which industries in your area are growing, shrinking, and are expected to remain flat. WIOA will also require education providers and local WIBs to work more closely together; so, this information should be pretty easy to obtain. For literacy-level programs, we’ll just need to get students moving along the pathway towards particular industry and help prepare them for entry-level work in fields with great job growth potential. We’ll do this by providing  “Integrated Education and Training” – the combining adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement. Literacy education providers need curriculum that is suitable for this type of learning.

Please keep checking back for more information. We have quite a bit to do and learn before WIOA goes into effect.

Hats off to you!

Michelle Walker-Wade Workforce, Training & Development Professional

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workforce, Training & Development


OCTAE’s Brief Report on “Making Skills Everyone’s Business”

I came across this brief report from OCTAE (Making Skills Everyone’s Business – A Call To Transform Adult Learning in the United States) and wanted to share it with you. The full report will publish in August 2014. I’ve noted the points in this article that stick out most to me below. As you’ll see, some of these points definitely need further thought and development. I hope you find it an interesting read!

Who Are the Low Skilled
Key Points Summary

  • The current federally funded adult education system reaches fewer than 2 million adults annually; but, estimates show there are 3 million adults ready to start improving their skills now and 36 million more adults who could benefit from it.
  •  Improving adult skills increases productivity and, among industrialized nations, countries with higher cognitive skills have substantially higher long-term economic growth.
  •  The promoting of career pathways is “an efficient and customer-centered approach to training and education …” This holistic practice utilizes contextualized instruction, a model found to be effective with low-skilled adult  learners.
  •  The current adult education system lacks the infrastructure to support teachers equitably across states and programs.  Greater investments are required for high-quality professional development.
  •  Almost two-thirds of the low-skilled population in the United States is employed. They are remarkably diverse in terms of learning backgrounds, earlier achievement gaps, and current literacy & language skills. We must also consider low-skilled adults with disabilities and chronic health issues
  •  Federal tax and federal-share incentives, such as incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, unemployment insurance, work sharing, and more closely coordinated training programs, can be used to increase the foundation and technical skills of entry-level employees and new hires.

My Thoughts on Yahoo’s Decision to Ban Telecommuting

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

My thoughts on the Yahoo! CEO’s decision to ban telecommuting –

Marissa Mayer’s perspective that building a strong culture of communication and collaboration is something that happens much more effectively when team members are physically in the same location is something I know from experience to be true.  “Water cooler” conversations have a big impact on the collaborative culture of a company. It’s a place where random conversations can generally turn into productive, problem-solving sessions; especially when working on a high-functioning team.  If the team is dysfunctional in this area it takes hard work to overturn the current culture in order to establish a new culture.

For several understandable reasons Mayer has issued a strict ban on telecommuting effective June 1, 2013. But, I do Telecommuter Malehope in time she will relax the strictness of the policy a little as Yahoo! begins to see the outcomes needed to remain competitive. Personally, I’m a Yahoo! fan; I prefer it’s interface, intuitiveness, and productive use much more than I do Google’s; but I cannot deny that Google is much more creative and innovative than Yahoo!.  These are traits you see in highly collaborative work teams. Perhaps this change will help Yahoo! in this area.

Considering all of Yahoo’s current product failures and it’s inability to hire and manage the talent needed to remain competitive, we’re short-sighted when we choose to see this ban as an all out attack on telecommuting. Clearly the rampant abuse and overall lack of oversight and performance management is a systemic issue at Yahoo. It’s killing the company at large. Someone with strong leadership had to step up and tighten the reins, to weed out problem employees and rebuild a functional workforce. Sometimes in the weeding-out process you lose valuable team-members. But to continue on the path to corporate self-destruction would be more devastating in the long run. They have many performance and management issues at Yahoo; this is just one step in cleaning up shop. I believe the ban will be lifted in time.

On the flip side, this move will cause a hardship on families. Anyone caring for children and/or aging parents have some difficult decisions to make. Most public education organizations and elder care facilities are working with tighter budgets, therefore requiring parents and caregivers to do more than ever. You have to wonder how much of our workforce even has the option of returning to an inflexible work schedule.

Perhaps Yahoo! will lose some of it’s top talent with this change. But perhaps it will also create a great pool of talent for the smaller, less known companies who are in a better position to offer telecommuting and home-life balance.  Seeing the challenges Yahoo! is currently facing is a clear indication that it’s time to manage talent more closely.

Now, without siting any sources, here are a few comments others have made.  I’m adding them here just to give a more well-rounded perspective on this hot topic.

  • I think it’s probably a wimpy way of making what the CEO claims are necessary staff cutbacks, since I’m sure many people will now have no other choice but to resign. However, as much as I want to disagree completely and say it was an insane decision, some of the CEO’s comments made sense to me in the context of the company’s history and the major reasons for its difficulties.
  • My question is, “What is the exact problem that led to this ban? And how can they address the exact problem without a complete ban on telecommuting?” It may be necessary in some instances but a blanket ban seems excessive.
  • It is a well known fact that there is a “un tapped” market of skilled professionals that are no longer in the job market because of the lack of telecommuting and remote work opportunities. I too had to leave a position that I loved when my daughter was born because of a new corporate initiative that required for all personnel to be on-site 5 days a week.
  • More and more studies and employees, CEO’s, and consultants are finding that when you recruit top talent and take care of your employees and don’t get in their way of being human (having lives, homes, needing to wait for the cable guy sometimes), then you win, period.
  • I’ve read several articles on this and have concluded that Yahoo had no better alternative. True, it’s not a great decision, but the alternatives (including leaving the current telework program in place) must have been worse.
  • If they had employees who were not trustworthy or not towing the line, I wish they could have addressed those individuals. Maybe they tried. It brings to mind the teacher who criticizes and disciplines the whole class because a handful of students are not doing what they are supposed to do. Maybe she felt that the issue was an epidemic sweeping through the telecommuting employees at Yahoo, and once again, I am not in her shoes.
  • I’ve been in situations before where a blanket approach, such as this, was used, and rather than weeding out the untrustworthy employees or developing them into better employees, it just brought everyone down, including the top performers, who quickly started finding work elsewhere. And any hope for new collaborating turned into employees collaborating about their complaints and their desires to work elsewhere…
  • There’s clearly some people at Yahoo! who have been able to hide their lack of productivity at home. Those are the real targets here. It won’t surprise me if the policy is reversed at some point, but they have to change the culture first. The culture has been the target of most of her moves up to this point, so I applaud her efforts.
  • …That is why Marissa is the CEO of Yahoo and not you. If everything in the world was run on basis of just books, anyone can run the companies, they would not need a person like Marissa and pay her millions. Let’s face it, Marissa brought in changes like iPhones to all staff, and we now know that change is working. The condition Yahoo is currently in, Marissa sees Yahoo has two choices – employees can come in to change the culture she likes to see OR employees can stay at home (as Yahoo will go down the drain, like many other before it).

So, what are your thoughts?

Vocabulary Development for Workplace Communications

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The Read.Write.Act 2012 Virtual Conference  convenes this Thursday and Friday, November 1-2, 2012.   The conference theme is: LITERACY AS A NATIONAL PRIORITY.

I will be presenting on the topic:  Vocabulary Development for Workplace Communications” on Friday at 1pm EST.

Why Develop Vocabulary?  Vocabulary is fundamental to every other literacy skill and for most communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the Job Outlook 2012 report, employers want employees who can communicate.  Here’s how communication skills rated based on a five-point scale:

In my presentation I will discuss how we as  educators and literacy advocates can provide learning opportunities that are relevant for today’s workforce, engaging and appropriate for our population of learners, and that has enough breadth and depth to prepare them to meet their employer’s needs.

The registration fee  for both days is only $25. I encourage you to register, as the wealth of information you’ll receive is well worth the money.  Click here to see the full conference schedule.

I see a countless numbers of students complete vocational training programs in health care, accounting, computer applications, and more who – despite their high scores on these technical skills – cannot obtain and/or maintain employment because they’re unable to communicate with employers, co-workers and customers. For some, the employers gives them a try, just to see how it goes; but it’s not long before they’re let go.  We cannot neglect the importance of this skill as a core, foundational employment skill.

I hope you’ll join us for this workshop and conference.  Please check it out.

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy &
Career Strategy


What Can I Do With That Degree?

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We have built up the idea of getting a college degree as the complete key to success; yet, we clearly see that simply having a great education and an earned degree isn’t enough to keep you from being an unemployed (or under employed) job-seeker. Vocational colleges, on the other hand, have tooted their horn that students can quickly get in, get the skills needed for a particular career, and get to work.

I’m an advocate of education, and my particular area of interest is career education, having over 12 years of experience in this field. I talk to many adults trying to make decisions about their career, who are in transition, and who wonder should they go back to college for a 4-year degree, or go to a vocational institution and get a new job skill.  There is no one right answer.  Determining which way to go, and WHEN to take which move first requires a series conversations, soul searching, and personal research.  The money and time you are getting ready to invest in “re-tooling” yourself should not be a quick, brash decision. As an adult learner with adult life responsibilities you must  critically listen to college and career institution recruiters, and then do your own research.  You should take time to find the answers for yourself to questions like:

  • What can I REALLY do with that degree?
  • Will that degree be enough, or will I need an advanced or accompanying degree to land a good job?
  • How plenteous are the jobs in this field in my geographical area?
  • What companies in my area look for people with my degree and or skill?
  • Will my degree be enough, or will the employer want me to have other skills as well?
  • What is the future of my industry of choice?
  • Will the jobs I see now still be the same when I’ve finished my studies?

These questions can be daunting, time-consuming, and if not approached with the right attitude, could make a person less motivated to persist.  But, trust me, and the thousands of degreed job-seekers whose student loan payments are eating them alive, getting the strategy upfront is much better than dealing with the crisis afterwards.

My opening question was: What can I do with that degree?  Not looking at degrees such as Business, Marketing, Education, and other job-focused degrees, I want to give you a few resources to check out. The information here is just enough to give you some ideas, but it is in no way enough to say you’ve done your research. Take a look, and leave some feedback if you will.


If you have any insight on the following degrees (undergraduate level preferred) please do share.

Agriculture Anthropology Art History Biology
Chemistry Communications Cultural Studies Creative Writing
Dance English Environmental Studies Fine Arts
Health Science History Human Development Humanities
Human Sexuality Industrial Design Kinesiology Life Science
Linguistics Marine Biology/Science Mass Media Microbiology
Music Natural Science Philosophy Physics
Political Science Public Relations Regenerative Studies Religious Studies
Statistics Telecommunication Systems TESOL Technical Studies
Urban Studies Wildlife Management Women’s Studies Zoology

~ Blessings to you!

Michelle Walker-Wade Workplace Literacy Expert

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy Expert