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During IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017, IPC member attendees sat down for a meeting with Kim R. Ford, acting assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the chronic shortage of skilled workers, and the obstacles this creates for the electronics manufacturing industry.
During the meeting, Ford stated that leaders of the Trump Administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, were still working their way through the various workforce issues. She emphasized that there is strong interest in working with the Department of Labor and all stakeholders to promote apprenticeship programs, public and private partnerships, and veterans-training programs. Speaking specifically to IPC members, Ford suggested working with state and local governments to integrate training and certification offerings into existing programs, as the Department of Education does not provide curriculum. Thus allowing for education to be specialized for industry needs and increasing worker employability.
Ford also noted that the Department of Education wishes to focus on “stacking” credentials to help workers move on to the next level of their careers. A Mapping Upward document will be released this summer to encourage more action in this direction. Stackable credential programs help students develop additional skills they need in order to advance on the job by earning additional credentials that further enable them to advance within the workplace, rather than constant retraining for new positions.
In line with this, the Department of Education has four “lines of business” under the heading of Academic Skills, Technical Skills, and Employable Skills:
- Correctional institutions
- Community colleges
- Adult education
- Working age population
In order to best take advantage of the information available, there are a number of resources available to assist IPC members and others in the electronics industry. Based on the conversation with Ford, a few of these resources include:
- The Career Technical Education program lists grants allocated to local school districts in October and July; and the Perkins Collaboration Resource Network. Minnesota has a strong model for accreditation and certification.
- The CTE Employability Skills Framework Roadmap is a one-stop resource for information and tools to inform the instruction and assessment of employability skills.
- The Department of Labor’s Career Pathways initiative provides information on how to become involved in apprenticeship programs. While the Career Pathways Tool Kit is a resource for member companies to follow when working with the State to implement training and education programs that will improve workers’ hireability.
- Title 2 funding under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is a landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers. It also helps employers hire and retain skilled workers.
- National Science Foundation Grants, which is a resource of grant funding.
IPC, with its strong foundation of training and certification, is looking at opportunities to work with the relevant federal agencies and local governments to close the skills gap and help fill jobs in the electronics manufacturing industry.
These resources are available to help navigate through some of the workforce development issues currently being faced by our members.