Proposed Priorities for Incumbent Worker Subcommittee
and NYS Workforce Investment Board

Revised May 12, 2001


The mission of the Incumbent Worker Subcommittee, as of the NYS Workforce Investment Board broadly, is to ensure that New York's citizens and workers get and maintain the technical and career as well as academic skills needed for success in a changing state, national and world economy; and that New York's employers and communities get and maintain the workforce skills they need for viable competitiveness and future innovation. The Subcommittee seeks to pull ahead the linkage in worker training into the K-12 system for work based and general learning. Success in this mission entails several basic principles:

1.The publicly-funded workforce development system should selectively augment and complement the substantial private sector investment in job placement/recruitment and training systems.
1.2.The relevant unit of competitiveness is the State of New York, the world's ninth largest economy. (The opening sentence has been questioned as to its phrasing; it is suggested that it be reworked for clarity. Possible restatement might be: The State of New York's economic competitiveness in the world's economy is directly linked to its ability to provide a statewide strategy that values and recognizes the diverse economies which exist across New York State.Unless the state's workforce, education and training system succeeds in meeting the needs of industry sectors, most constituent elements—individuals, firms, communities—will not thrive.
2.3. Workforce development—and building workforce development system— as conducted by the public and private sector must be recognized as indispensable (suggested replacement for the following phrase: to the economic competitiveness of New York State.) for the state's future security, success, and prosperity in the global economy.
3.4. The relevant policy goal for the Subcommittee, and NYS WIB, is: systematic development of workforce skills and qualifications adequate to achieve and maintain middle class jobs and career prospects. Low skill jobs will always be with us, but are not, and should not be, our focus here.
4.5. New York's workforce development, economic development and education systems must be comprehensively aligned and coordinated with each other systematically to support this mission. Each will have to cooperate to build creative new solutions, but will also benefit from them.
Incumbent Worker Issues:
1. The publicly-funded system does not facilitate enough coherent high quality training through incumbent worker training and lifelong learning to close the gap between available skills and job opportunities
2.Low skill workers are stuck in cycles of dead end, low wage jobs with little potential to gain and develop the skills for self-sufficiency. They need new options to break through to higher skills. This statement was challenged on its validity and the ability to determine whether in fact it is scientifically accurate. A suggested replacement was offered: “The publicly-funded workforce investment system should provide more effective services to aid low wage workers in gaining higher level skills to lead toward greater self-sufficiency.
3.From a business perspective, the workforce investment system must be better aligned with economic development in order to successfully implement incumbent worker training strategies
4.From business perspectives, again, there is a lack of coordination among school-based education and work-based training, beginning at secondary education levels but including college as well.
5.Incumbent workers need new ways to upgrade skills and achieve more stable career qualifications while working, not just after they have become dislocated or enter transitional worker status.
1.NYS WIB must assist employers with more effective ways to meet their critical skill shortages in the new knowledge economy, and in New York's core industries, both long established and new.
2.We must especially help workers on the lowest rungs to advance further and gain self-sufficiency.
3.We must assist small and medium-sized businesses with training and re-qualification functions.
4.Many of the difficulties of incumbent, transitional and emerging workers are due to insufficient basic preparation. New approaches and linkage, including the Regents CTE proposal, are needed.
5.Education and the private sector, including labor, do not participate in-depth in identifying curricula, work based and project-based learning and assessments at (the question was raised whether this should start earlier than the secondary level) secondary and technical college levels to meet current and rising employment needs. New initiatives must address this.
The current publicly-funded system cannot fulfill these functions adequately as long as it faces the following barriers:
1.There is a lack of relevance to the needs of the economy, and of credibility to private employers.
2.Levels of basic literacy are inadequate in the current workforce in some critical industry sectors.
3.There are continued policy, funding and regulatory “silos” in federal and some state programs.
4.There is widespread lack of coordination among school-based education and work-based training, beginning at the secondary education level, but continuing in two and four year college programs.
5.Vocational education is seen as second class education and career preparation, at both secondary and post secondary levels. One result: low and inadequate industry-based content and instructional grouping by sector, at national and international standards, in technical college degree programs.
6.Industry clusters have begun to influence educational curricula on a limited basis locally, but this is not well organized statewide, or nationally. Competitive forces tend to hinder cooperation thus far within NY industry clusters, though they are very successful elsewhere in the US and abroad.
This statement was challenged on its validity. What are New York examples of clusters in which competition limits cooperation? Where are there models in the US that should be emulated?
1.The workforce investment system should actively encourage lifelong learning, re-skilling and re-qualification, and state-wide upgrading of the workforce through a system of creative incentives for human capital investment by individuals, employers and government. New approaches are needed.
2.Build an integrated state workforce development system, adequate to the task of ensuring the competitive skills of the workforce and state's success and prosperity in the global economy. The publicly funded workforce development system should complement and augment private sector investment to create a workforce development system adequate to the task of ensuring the competitive skills of the New York State workforce.
3.Align workforce development with state economic development and education systems. There is a strong need for greater coherence on strategy, 'customer' needs, performance measures and funding between and across all levels of the system. Separate workforce-related funding streams should be integrated into flexible funding categories and accounted for through a limited number of mission-relevant system-wide performance indicators that emphasize concrete steps to dramatic skills upgrading and higher qualifications, especially for low skilled workers; increased 'customer satisfaction' by the employers and employees; productivity increases and higher personal incomes.
Incumbent Worker Subcommittee Goals & Strategies:
It was strongly suggested that these goals and strategies be discussed at length by the committee to attain greater clarity as to their purpose and to see if all members actually agree with their premise.
1.Per our mission, the policy goal for this subcommittee, and NYS WIB broadly, is comprehensive generation of workforce skills and qualifications adequate to achieve and maintain middle class jobs, career prospects and sufficiency levels--not skills merely for low-skills, low-wage secondary labor market or 'temp' jobs. In practical terms, the aim is “middle level” entry to front line supervisory jobs and career paths, focused at sub-baccalaureate education and training levels, but academically strong enough to be a strong step toward—or part of—college—and seen as such.
2.This means meeting employer skill needs to fill available job opportunities—and build innovation capacity—through incumbent worker training, further education and re-qualification strategies.
3.It means preparing workers to meet the challenge of the New Knowledge Economy through work- based training, and basic, higher and continuing education, in multiple but integrated pathways.
4.It also means policies aimed at generating the highest possible earning power for New York's workers, through high(er) value-added work skills that meet and exceed self-sufficiency thresholds.
5.New York's incumbent workers need education, training and workforce skills development offering rich opportunities for learning in high skills work-based training environments.
  1. Strategy: establish a comprehensive NYS WIB data base of high academic content, sector-based technical and career oriented upper secondary and technical college curricula, project-based and work-based learning instructional models, performance assessments, credentials and qualifications, from best-practice systems and sources.
  2. Strategy: offer NYS WIB technical assistance and policy guidance developed from the data.
6.To provide skill upgrading and retraining opportunities of the current workforce to meet the demand side needs of industry clusters, align the critical “supply side” providers to this effort.
  1. Strategy: Identify major state industry sectors and the issues that are barriers to retained or increased employment. Which barriers are common across sectors, which sector-specific?
  2. Strategy: Review the state of current employer practices and the methods for the provision of education and training to the workforce. Identify common problems and needs for coherence.
7.Identify strategies for incumbent worker, and emerging and transitional, training, across sectors:
  1. Strategy: Identify which issues are already owned by other stakeholders and which ones the subcommittee and Board must drive; if someone else owns the issue, identify how to bring effective support to them from the Board—and from them to the Board and state-level policy.
8.Implement effective strategies for incumbent worker training across industry sectors:
  1. Strategy: Pilot through WIA state-level funds different training or workplace process approaches. Integrate with other state and federal programs and funding for coherent strategies and impact. Make funding streams serve strategy, not the reverse.
9.Implement effective strategies to deal with excessive job “churning” in the economy and the impact on existing workers most likely to be affected, especially under-skilled workers:
  1. Strategy: Pilot through WIA state-level funds different options to address the barriers and skill gaps identified. Place emphasis on reducing isolation of low-skilled workers in chronically low-skill, low-wage paths by building far stronger rungs on career ladders toward high skills.
General Goals & Strategies:
1.Within the broad general policy process of the combined WIB committees, it would be beneficial to establish a process to coordinate policy recommendations and assure systematic coherence across relevant state agencies -- given their linked missions, challenges and potential partners.
2.This coordination should include, in particular, methods to link Incumbent, Transitional and Emerging Workers in initiatives stemming from proposals receiving strongest support in the Evaluation of Stakeholder Perceptions of Recommendations on the Regents CTE Proposal (Executive Summary p. 4) for :
  1. “performance-based technical assessments”; “interdisciplinary technical and academic courses” linked to “increased opportunities for participation in internships and work experiences”; as well as “increased career planning”; and “regular in-service training” and other measures “to keep lines of communication open between industry and education”.
  2. development of the “more creative alternatives to current credit and assessment mandates” called for by stakeholders to address ways not just to achieve “flexibility for delivery of core courses” but to “ensure flexibility and timely delivery of both CTE and academic courses”.
3.Coordination efforts could also systematically link these objectives [—especially “interdisciplinary technical and academic courses”, work-based learning “internships and work experiences”; “performance-based technical assessments”; “creative alternatives” for “credit and assessment” and qualification—] with state, federal and international programs and assets, including the following :
  1. US Education Dept “Tech Prep,” “Career Clusters,” Building Linkages, and Perkins Voc Ed.
  2. US Labor “Registered Apprenticeship,” One Stop and Workforce Investment Act programs.
  3. National Skills Standard Board industry sector standards, and sectoral Voluntary Partnerships.
  4. NSF Advanced Technology Education national model community college curricula
  5. Related EU school-plus-work-based and project-based tech education matching NSF sectors.
  6. The US-EU Cooperation Agreement and federal funds for CTE / tech education shared R & D.
  7. The US-German and US-Danish Agreements for cooperation on CTE / tech education.
4.Coordination across types of workers and committees should also link desired components of business involvement, input into training content, work-based learning strategies, etc., with key New York industry sector clusters (for example as identified by Empire State Development in New York State Industry Cluster Profiles and related studies), enabling coordinated policies to:
  1. integrate academic and applied learning, gather and organize content to build real-world content, deep contextualization, “production problems,” processes and standards into linked education and project-based / work-based learning components.
  2. help shape a general sector or cluster framework as well as begin concrete development of some important key industry career clusters: starting with the IT and Communication & Media sectors; and the Manufacturing and Industrial Machinery & Systems clusters, and adding several others, as a beginning set, from among: Biomed / biotech; Fashion, Apparel & Textiles; Optics & Imaging; Travel & Tourism, and others (in principle, any and all important sectors).
5.Efforts toward broad general coordination must also assure that the entire above agenda is systematically articulated with the degree programs of SUNY, particularly the SUNY Community Colleges and Technical Colleges, which already engage with economic and industry needs at local and regional levels; but which can provide a pivotal state-wide coordination role through shared, articulated curricular and program offerings system-wide, linked to industry clusters in NY and to work-based learning, Regents CTE endorsements, and related state and federal programs.
Process / Next Steps:
1.Clarify issues and needs
2.Selection of priorities:
3.Formulating implementation policies:
4.Translating policies into measurable activities: