With New Ad Campaign, White House Deepens Support For Skills-Based Education

Just six months in the past, unemployment was so low that many firms struggled to recruit and hold expert employees. Some employers provided staff enhanced education benefits, each to entice them to remain and to get them higher educated for his or her roles.

Now, although, the job market has crashed, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are out of labor or furloughed. And they’re the target market of a brand new advert marketing campaign from a White House activity power encouraging unemployed or underemployed Americans to take the initiative to strengthen their job expertise with a view to “find something new.”

Created with enter and funding from members of the duty power—known as the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board—in addition to the Business Roundtable affiliation of CEOs, the marketing campaign features a TV commercial and a website that highlights sizzling jobs and the pathways individuals can use to safe these alternatives.

The jobs knowledge, which comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, highlights careers that had been in excessive demand earlier than the pandemic, comparable to nurse, electrician, and wind turbine technician, in addition to some rising occupations like contact tracer. The pathways info describes an array of choices for constructing job expertise, together with apprenticeships, certificates packages and affiliate levels—all billed as alternate options to a four-year bachelor’s diploma.

“There are many pathways to great opportunities,” stated Scott Pulsipher, president of on-line Western Governors University and a member of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, in an interview. “Degrees aren’t the only path.”

Pathways provided by organizations represented on the duty power—some public, some nonprofit, some for-profit—get outstanding placement on the marketing campaign web site.

Although the advert marketing campaign was within the works earlier than the COVID-19 outbreak and accompanying financial downturn, some observers have criticized the campaign’s timing and message as “tone-deaf,” since a recession is, by definition, normally not a promising time to “find something new” when it comes to employment.

Others fear that the marketing campaign’s promotion of non-degree packages will encourage college students and employees to hunt certificates from for-profit establishments, whose choices, analysis exhibits, are often more costly and less likely to result in earnings gains than credentials from public faculties.

“There needs to be more of a focus on which programs are high-quality,” stated Stephanie Riegg Cellini, professor of public coverage and economics at George Washington University who research for-profit larger schooling. She added that the web site provides “no differentiation between programs with high completion rates and low completion rates, high costs and low costs.”

New Opportunities or Old Problems?

The Find Something New marketing campaign is the most recent federal effort to help a skills-based strategy to larger schooling and job coaching. Its launch comes a number of weeks after President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to prioritize job skills, not tutorial credentials, of their hiring practices.

Both strikes stem from suggestions made by the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which Trump established by government order in July 2018. The board, co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Ivanka Trump, consists of main employers like IBM and Apple, some state governors, leaders of group faculties and heads of non-traditional larger ed suppliers like Western Governors University and Udacity.

Despite the brand new marketing campaign’s slogan, Pulsipher stated it’s less than employees alone to seek out good jobs, however that the accountability for aiding them ought to be shared by schooling establishments, employers and the federal government. The pandemic could have disrupted employer funding in workforce coaching, however he believes that change shall be short-term.

“I would anticipate more employer engagement in the talent supply chain, not less,” Pulsipher stated.

Shared private and non-private, particular person and collective accountability for financial restoration is a theme of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board’s new “call to action,” an inventory of suggestions for the way to help American employees through the pandemic and past. Included within the doc is a proposal that “high-quality, short-term, market-aligned credential programs that stack into lifelong learning opportunities” grow to be extra eligible for federal scholar monetary support.

It’s an idea that’s been debated before. Skeptics argue that this type of coverage change may gasoline the rise of unproven for-profit packages that will take taxpayer {dollars} with out leaving job seekers demonstrably higher off—an issue that became more pronounced the last time there was a recession.

With the financial system again within the dumps, students and workers may again become vulnerable, Cellini stated, particularly as a result of the Trump administration has reversed protections against predatory higher ed providers put in place by the Obama administration.

“There’s been a rollback on any kind of regulation that would potentially help students assess [the] quality” of schooling and coaching packages, she stated.

Guidance on the standard of short-term credentials additionally appears absent from the Find Something New marketing campaign, Cellini stated. The prime outcomes on every pathway web page are for packages affiliated with members of the White House activity power, comparable to Apple, IBM and Western Governors University.

“There’s very little on this website to suggest what students should be looking for,” Cellini stated.

Outcomes knowledge is of concern to the duty power, nevertheless, no less than based on its “call to action” doc, which says schooling and coaching suppliers ought to accomplice with the federal government to “promote high-quality educational opportunities by measuring and publishing outcome data. This includes measuring skill acquisition and making such information more readily available for learner and employer use.”

The authorities’s shift in favor of skills-focused larger schooling and different pathways appears prone to endure below the Trump administration. The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board was set to dissolve this summer season, however Trump recently extended its life another year, till September 2021.

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