SkillWorks has joined state and national partners to support SB674: An Act Relative to Ensuring Quality Education and Training Programs. Filed by the late Senator Ken Donnelly, the bill would make education and training program outcome data like wage attainment and college completion rates available to consumers on a timely basis to better inform consumer choices and options. It would give policymakers new tools to better inform the state’s workforce and education planning strategies.
Interested in learning more and finding out how you can support SB674? Well, you’re in luck! Working with our partners at the Workforce Solutions Group and the National Skills Coalition’s Workforce Data Quality Campaign, we’ve developed a fact sheet explaining the What, Who, How and ultimately Why of this critical piece of legislation:
What is it?
The purpose of this bill is to help close Massachusetts’ skills gap by providing workforce and education data more effectively to students, educators, employers, program managers, and policymakers to help inform decisions on program development, resource allocation, career pathways, and recruiting and hiring skilled talent.
So, what does this bill actually do?
- Codifies the existing practice of public higher education institutions to annually submit student level information to the Department of Higher Education;
- Requires the Department of Revenue and the Division of Unemployment Assistance to share wage information with the Department of Higher Education to determine whether graduates are finding employment, and how much they’re earning;
- Instructs the Department of Higher Education to create a website offering students a place to find information on their education and training options based on things like graduation rates, job placement rates, wage info and loan debt, as well as information about occupations and programs;
- Commissions a task force that will focus on improving and coordinating the state’s data infrastructure across and between the workforce, education, and social service agencies, ultimately ensuring more effective use of their data.
Who will it help?
This bill has the potential to benefit many groups statewide:
- Students and Parents. This bill will provide prospective students and their families with the information they need to make important decisions about their postsecondary options, before they invest their time and money.
- Policymakers. This bill will provide policymakers with information about institutions and programs, which they can use to improve education, workforce, and economic development policy in the state.
- Employers. This bill will help ensure that employers can access information about which programs and institutions are giving students the skills they need to be successful in the workplace.
- Educators and Program Managers. This bill will give educators and programs the information they need to improve the quality of their program offerings to better meet employer demand and tailor programs for struggling demographics.
How/Why will it be beneficial?
Sounds great, but how will this bill ultimately help Massachusetts and why should you support it?
- Increases economic competitiveness. This bill will position Massachusetts more competitively by creating an efficient means to analyze and critically use big data that will help close the skills gap.
- Helps us show off our greatest assets. This bill will support the state’s effort to showcase our greatest natural resource: our talent!
- Levels the playing field. This bill creates greater parity for Massachusetts with the 23 other states that have already implemented a workforce education scorecard, and 18 states that have a mechanism to provide program-level data to improve program and institutional offerings.
Where else is this happening?
As mentioned, there are states that are already way ahead of Massachusetts, having implemented similar policies and they are definitely reaping the benefits. But don’t just take our word for it, check out just a few examples:
- Washington state uses wage records to evaluate the outcomes of nearly 20 workforce development programs. When data showed strong employment and earnings outcomes for the state’s apprenticeship programs, the legislature enacted laws to increase the state’s number of apprentices.
- Texas law requires the Texas Workforce Commission to maintain an automated workforce development evaluation system that has data on nine of the state’s workforce programs. The Texas legislature then uses that information to make decisions about the state’s budget.
- California’s community college system evaluated and adjusted their career and technical education (CTE) programs using an online tool called LaunchBoard, which shows information on student progress through CTE courses and into the labor market. Checkout this sample data dashboard:
Please join SkillWorks and our partners in supporting this important piece of legislation! You can send letters supporting the bill directly to the Massachusetts legislature via email to: Rosalind.Jordan@mahouse.gov.
Download a copy of this fact sheet on the bill to send along with any letters of support, and to share with your legislators and others who may be interested in advocating for this legislation which would have a massively positive effect on the quality of education and traning programs in Massachusetts!
The bill is also supported at the national level by the National Skills Coalition Workforce Data Quality Campaign. You can read their testimony here. You can also check out their website to learn more about what Massachusetts and other states are doing to build and improve quality workforce data systems, and why quality workforce data matters!
And don’t forget to check out our recent post with tips on how community-based organizations and constituents can get directly involved in the legislative process. Your state senators and representatives work for YOU! Make your voice heard on the issues that matter to you and your fellow constituents!