Education Attainment Division
Helping Health Care Workers Move Up the Career Ladder
Chambers Mobilizing Towards a "Big Goal"
Metro South Chamber of Commerce received a 2014-15 Lumina Education Attainment Award for leading Careers in Health, a program targeting entry and advanced level healthcare employees who seek career advancement but require higher education, certification or licensure. To help meet the needs of the region’s top industry, the program works in partnership with several healthcare employers and four institutions of higher education, offering courses to more than 205 incumbent healthcare workers pursuing career growth opportunities.
The Metro South Chamber serves one of Massachusetts’ fastest growing regions, consisting of eighteen communities south of Boston. The 101-year old chamber, located in the city of Brockton, has been a longtime champion of workforce development. As part of the Goal 2025 Blog Series, EAD staff interviewed Metro South's leaders who provided insights into the chamber’s history strengthening the local talent pipeline.
- Christopher Cooney, President & CEO
- Alison Van Dam, Vice President of Marketing, Communication & Business Development
- Christine Karavites, Senior Consultant
Q: What led your chamber to focus on education attainment and workforce development?
Metro South: This is the Metro South Chamber’s 101st anniversary, and it has a long history of engaging in education and workforce development issues. Several community development initiatives originated within the chamber and grew into their own community support entities. The Brockton Area Multi-Services Agency and Brockton 21st Century Corporation both started as chamber committees, convening stakeholders and developing workforce development strategies.
Q: You were awarded ACCE’s Lumina Education Attainment award to support your chamber’s Careers in Health program, which helps incumbent healthcare workers pursue degrees, certificates and licenses. Can you tell me about the program’s origins and the chamber’s specific role in its implementation?
Metro South: Healthcare is the region’s largest industry sector and economic driver. The Chamber had previously seen success with smaller workforce/occupational grants we’d received from state agencies ($15-35k). Two years ago the state announced that business associations were eligible for $250k Workforce Training Fund consortium grants which go to companies training employees in job-related skills through a program designed by the company. Our's was the first chamber in the state to receive this type of grant which enabled us to allocate funds to several businesses within an industry sector for employee-training activities. The healthcare sector was the obvious choice.
Chamber staff coordinates the entire program, which targets entry and advanced level health care employees who seek career and workplace advancement but require higher education, certification, or licensure. The Chamber contracts with area colleges to develop curriculum and conduct the training. As part of the program, the Chamber's grant funds pay for the cost of employees' tuition and training with a matching contribution from employers to cover employees’ salaries while they receive training. The Chamber reaches out to healthcare employers from area hospitals and nursing homes to garner buy-in and articulate the need and value of the program as far as reducing turnover costs and increasing the supply of skilled workers to meet their industry’s need.
Q: This is just one program in your Chamber’s education/workforce portfolio, and it’s obvious that significant resources were invested - What were the resources, and how do you justify the investment from an organizational standpoint?
Metro South: The state allows the grantee to retain 10% overhead, but that doesn’t begin to cover the significant staff time and funding required to run the program. This program is only a small portion of our education and workforce development portfolio, with everything done through existing staff capacity (six full-time employees and 2 part-time employees).
However, the Chamber views this as a win-win-win.
The Chamber wins from a goal/mission-achievement standpoint. Workforce development, increasing educational levels, and serving the local healthcare industry are part of the Chamber’s economic development strategy to foster job creation and retention.
The colleges and businesses that participate in the program are chamber members. The colleges increase enrollment and receive funds from tuition fees. Employers benefit from more proficient employees and lower turnover rates.
Healthcare employees, the majority of whom are single mothers, receive training and degrees/credentials such as a Bachelors in Science Nursing or a Nursing Assistant Certification (CNA), helping them move up the career ladder and earn higher wages.
Q: Chambers are often challenged to sustain their education/workforce development work. Can you elaborate on how you've maintained and grown the the work started by the workforce training fund grant?
Metro South: Most of the hospitals and training facilities that have partnered with us are eligible to apply for their own state workforce training grants to continue the work. Now that employers have seen the benefits of participating in the program, we plan to expand the initiative by: 1) working with partnering companies to help them apply for their own workforce training funds; and 2) providing group training for healthcare employers on how to engage students in health careers and career ladder opportunities. Other ways we plan to sustain the initiative beyond the current budget include: 1) developing program implementation guides for employers as an alternative to the chamber providing one-on-one training, which can be very expensive; and 2) purchasing software to use in the chamber's business assistance center, which is a resource for employees and employers to use printers, computers, and software free of charge as well as take part in industry-specific training workshops.
Q: How do you measuring/benchmark success?
Metro South: For the Careers in Health Initiative, we collect employee-level data through surveys and ongoing and frequent dialogue with both participants and employers. The data collected tracks movement up the career ladder including wage increases, as well as employer data such as job creation and retention. A large component of the Workforce Training Consortium fund grant was tracking the return on investment for participating businesses.
All of our education/workforce development initiatives are grounded in research conducted with employers and the broader community, and they are the result of a cumulative effort over years of listening to community needs and supporting the regional healthcare industry.
Q: What advice would you give chambers interested in engaging in education attainment/workforce development?
Develop a strategy and test it with educational and employer partners. Then convene relevant stakeholders from education and business to refine the strategy and establish a plan of action.
ACCE has embraced Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, a national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Working in partnership with Lumina, ACCE’s Education Attainment Division launched a competitive awards program, providing chambers of commerce a $40,000 award to advance defined regional education attainment goals. In 2014, seven chambers of commerce received awards for setting ambitious workforce development agendas and showing momentum in achieving their community-specific goals.
The 2015-16 Lumina Education Attainment Awards application will launch April 27.
Chambers Mobilizing Towards Goal 2025
By 2020, the US Economy is predicted to have 55 million available jobs, and 65% of those jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. The fastest growing industries in STEM will require significant levels of education after high school. Evidence from employers surveyed across the country shows an alarming gap between the availability of jobs and workers with the skills to fill them. If current trends continue, these skills gaps are predicted to grow into massive labor shortages.
As the aggregate voice of local business needs, chambers of commerce are partnering with higher education institutions and community stakeholders, in order to equip the future workforce with the skills needed for college and career success.
Embracing Lumina Foundation's national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with degrees and high-quality credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025, ACCE launched a competitive awards program providing member-chambers a one-time $40,000 award to advance existing post-secondary education initiatives.
While approaches among awardees vary from championing career-themed high schools to launching training programs for healthcare workers, these chambers all demonstrate a history of sustained engagement in moving the needle on regional education outcomes. Through interviews, reports, and peer-to-peer sharing, leadership from the seven winning chambers have provided insights into what it takes to ensure students have the skills needed for success and employers have the talented workforce they demand.
The Goal 2025 blog series will feature one winning chamber each week in order to highlight successes, challenges, and opportunities identified throughout this awards program that can help other chambers build scalable and replicable programs and policies.
Follow the series each week to learn how chamber-led initiatives like Pathways to Prosperity and Talent4Tomorrow are connecting the current and future workforce to high-demand, high-wage skills and careers.
- Visit the EAD Higher Education Chamberpedia page for links to chamber-led post-secondary initiatives, resources for partnership building and business-focused research and reports.
The 2015-16 awards application will launch April 27.
Charleston Metro Chamber Wins Big for Area Schools
The Charleston (S.C.) Metro Chamber of Commerce had a lot to celebrate on Election Day. The chamber's successful Yes4Schools voter education campaign led to the extension of Charleston County’s Education Capital Improvement Referendum. Voters approved extending the referendum by 68 percent.
The Education Capital Improvement Referendum will extend a one cent sales tax for school construction for an additional six years.
Issued as a strategy to fight overcrowding in schools, this sales tax extension will help provide funding to ensure educational settings are safe, up-to-date, and conducive to learning. The referendum’s project list, which includes 35 school facilities across the district, will allow for new construction as well as the expansion of existing overcrowded facilities.
For more information see Chamber's Press Release.
Quickpoll Reveals Chamber Interest and Involvement in Supporting Common Core
ACCE recently conducted a QuickPoll:Common Core State Standards to learn if and how chambers were supporting higher K-12 academic standards and assessments in their states and communities. 140 Chamber Executives responded to the Quickpoll and revealed that chambers were indeed both interested and involved. 44 percent of surveyed chambers have a policy platform supporting more rigorous K-12 academic standards and assessments. If a chamber did not already have one 22 percent said they would like to adopt a policy platform supporting new K-12 standards and assessments.
Chamber involvement on this issue is vital because of the lack of awareness and understanding of CCSS. A national poll released by Achieve found that 63 percent of respondents know very little or nothing about CCSS. Of those who had heard of common core, 40 percent had an unfavorable impression and 37 percent had a favorable impression. But when the principles of CCSS were explained in more detail, favorability improved to 69 percent, with only 23 percent retaining their unfavorable impressions. Additionally, a recent public opinion poll by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce revealed that outside of educators and military leaders, the business community represents the most credible voice to advocate for higher K-12 standards and assessments.
Our Quickpoll provided a snapshot of how chambers are working to ensure college and career success for their community's future workforce.
- 88 percent of chambers said they were working with key stakeholders such as state education agencies, local school districts, and teachers
- 78 percent are communicating to their members about Common Core State Standards or higher academic standards based on common core
- 63 percent are holding events focused on CCSS and 58 percent are speaking to policy makers about CCSS or higher academic standards and assessments.
How Can ACCE Help?
When asked about the supports/resources/services ACCE could provide to help chambers engage in the successful implementation of new and more rigorous standards and assessments:
- overwhelmingly (93%) of chambers wanted examples of best practice documents/case studies and examples of policy platforms from other chambers
- 79% wanted tips on engaging membership and/or assistance identifying community-specific goals
- 68% wanted tips on getting started
- 60% requested conference calls/webinars with content experts
- 50% wanted peer to peer connections with chamber executives also working on starting an education platform
Did you know...
The Education and Workforce Development Chamberpedia section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. Chamberpedia's K-12 section features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments. Materials found in the College and Career Readiness section include: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.
Did you know...
The Education Attainment Division hosts bi-monthly webinars and conference calls for members of the greater EAD Community featuring content experts and chamber practitioners discussing topics across the cradle to career spectrum. Join next week's webinar: Deeper Learning for Global Competiveness to learn how businesses can help ensure students have the skills required to succeed in a globally competitive workforce. You can also listen to audio from the November 2013 EAD Community Call: Common Core Messaging- How to Get Ahead of the Pushback, facilitated by Kelli Wells, Director of US Education, GE Foundation.
Did you know...
ACCE has recently launched a Mentor Program. Chamber executives can self-select a range of expertise, including education and workforce development, or search for a chamber peer that has expertise in their desired interest area. Sign up to become a mentor or find a mentor today!
Chambers are vital to helping communities understand the importance of a skilled workforce prepared for to meet the demands of both college and career. Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division.
**NOTE:you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources.
Call with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
This coming Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be addressing leaders from the foundation and corporate sector. The conference call on Monday, March 10 at 3:15pm EST will focus on the President’s FY15 Budget proposal, released earlier this week at a preschool in Washington, DC. Secretary Duncan will provide an overview of the Department of Education's budget request and all of the DOE's priorities for the coming year. He will also briefly discuss the President’s recent announcement regarding My Brother’s Keeper, an important new initiative focused on improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
There will be an opportunity to submit questions at the end of the call.
Monday, March 10, 3:15-3:45pm EST
(Note: you do not need to RSVP)
Greater Spokane Inc's Business AfterSchool Program Brings Companies & Students Together
Last week Greater Spokane Inc. hosted Engineering Week as part of its Business AfterSchool Program. Business AfterSchool brings area students and parents to Spokane's high-demand industry sectors and companies to teach them about different careers and the skills needed to land available jobs. The program will devote one week each to focus on these industries: health care, engineering, manufacturing and computer science.
Business-Friendly Tools Chambers Can Use to Support a College & Career-Ready Agenda
As 48 states begin to implement new K-12 standards and assessments chambers are poised to bridge the education community with the needs of employers to prepare the future workforce to be competitive in a global economy. In order to assist chambers at all levels of engagement the K-12 section of ACCE's online HERO information library features business-friendly resources related to next generation assessments and Common Core State Standards.
College and Career Readiness
The Education and Workforce Development section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. The K-12 section of ACCE's online Chamberpedia features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments.
Common Core 101 & the Role of Business
Introductory resources to new standards and assessments include: a presentation for chambers and employers on Understanding Common Core Standards by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; a presentation by Tim Sheehy, President, Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce on Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards; and a Myth vs. Facts sheet prepared by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Next Generation Standards and Assessments - Tools & Resources for Chambers
Additional materials found in the College and Career Readiness section serve to showcase what is being done to raise the bar for the future workforce and offers tools from experts and chamber leaders on how to get involved. The section includes: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and SBAC flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.
Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division. Check out the Mentor Program to connect with chamber leaders with education and workforce development expertise or sign up to become a Mentor yourself!
*Note: you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources.
Impacting Education: Where are the Resources?
Chambers can influence a broad spectrum of issues by harnessing the collective voice of their business communities. Trends in corporate social responsibility and the burgeoning number of chambers directly involved in increasing regional education outcomes signify growing business involvement in education and workforce development.
A concerted, collaborative effort by local institutions can help identify areas where partners can work together to address pressing educational issues, better leverage resources and have a measurable impact. One way to begin this process is to use external asset mapping to stimulate thinking about potential resources to support your education and workforce development goals.
Consider these steps
- Determine where along the cradle to career spectrum you would like to engage: Early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, workforce development?
- Choose a focus for your activity: Programs, policy, systems reform, messaging?
- Consider potential funding sources: Corporate sponsors, foundations, government funding, government funding through competitive grants (e.g., Race to the Top), community-based organizations?
An ACCE Quickpoll of 236 chamber executives found that two out of three cited a lack of staff or funding as the main obstacle to becoming involved in education and workforce development. However, chambers have overcome this hurdle through leveraging the impact of their business leaders to attract strategic partners and funders.
- The Talbot (MD) Chamber was part of a community team that raised money to purchase a laptop computer for every student from 8th grade until graduation. This program grew into the One to One Laptop Initiative and is now funded through the local school district as a budget item.
- The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s education and talent development initiatives include K-12 education improvement, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce systems development. Most of the funding for these initiatives comes from their Partnership 2020 economic development strategy, a five-year, 10-county strategic plan. In addition, the chamber has received funds for specific projects and initiatives from area corporations and philanthropists, local and national foundations and the region’s three Workforce Investment Boards.
- UNITE-LA, the education and workforce development arm of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, works with member companies, corporate foundations, local community based-organizations and philanthropic foundations to foster education and workforce development systems that support Los Angeles’ youth and the development of a thriving regional economy. UNITE-LA seeks public grants to support and promote these collaborative partnerships.
- Through their multi-partner regional business, community, and economic development collaborative, Sarasota Tomorrow Next, the Greater Sarasota (FL) Chamber of Commerce allocates funds from membership pledges for education and workforce development initiatives.
- The Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce partnered with their local university, workforce investment boards and city government to establish a co-owned and operated Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to develop their communications and business outreach campaign to build a coalition of business leaders advocating for college-and-career-ready standards in Kentucky.
- In Texas, funding for the Austin Chamber’s wide array of workforce and talent development initiatives was derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five-county initiative for job creation in Central Texas fueled by $14.4 million in business investments.
The business voice is the strongest force to address the need for a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our global economy, and this work is something that every chamber can lead. For more information about ACCE's Education Attainment Division email or call 703-998-3571.
New Scorecard and Salary Surfer Tools to Aid Community College Students in California
For 2.6 million students, the California Community Colleges system is the gateway to higher education and a fulfilling career. As California seeks to dramatically increase the number of credentialed and college educated workers to remain economically competitive, the California Community Colleges system is a vital link to a strong and skilled workforce.
On Friday, September 13, the Los Angeles Area Chamber's Education & Workforce Development Council hosted a discussion with the region’s newest Los Angeles Community College District leaders, Trustees Mike Eng and Ernie Moreno and East Los Angeles and Los Angeles City College Presidents, Marvin Martinez and Renee Martinez. They outlined their plans for implementing the ground breaking policy reforms recommended by the California Community Colleges Student Success Taskforce.
One tool that was discussed was the “Student Success Scorecard” unveiled earlier this year. Since its release, the Scorecard has been lauded as a user-friendly tool, which provides all stakeholders with important information about their local college’s outcomes.
The Scorecard includes a groundbreaking “Salary Surfer,” which provides comparative information about the median earnings of recent graduates by college, discipline or program area. The Salary Surfer highlights the return on investment that a community college certificate or associate degree program can provide to students.
The data reveals that students who complete an associate degree double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. Furthermore, nearly 45 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree earned more than $54,000 annually five years after getting their degree, which is equal to the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This scorecard represents an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability on student progress and success in the largest public higher education system in the nation. Using this data, faculty, staff and community stakeholders can also determine if colleges are narrowing achievement gaps, which is vitally important for our students and our state's economy.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce continues to work with California Community College leaders to advance student success in Los Angeles.
The Case for Business Investment in Early Childhood Education
New study finds that virtually no one believes less should be done to support Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Okay, that's probably not that surprising. What might surprise you in First Five Years Fund's recently-released report is the widespread public, cross-sector, and bi-partisan support for investment in zero-to-five education. Specifically, the 800 voters surveyed for their report believe overwhelmingly that: 1) Early Education should be regarded as a national priority- second only to increasing economic prosperity and decreasing the tax burden; 2)Early child education and care must be more affordable; and 3) Congress needs to act NOW to increase access to excellent and affordable early education and childcare services.
On the heels of the survey's release a group of Chamber CEOs and business leaders gathered at the US Chamber last Wednesday to advocate on behalf of business investment in early child preparedness programs. Speaking at the gathering, Brian Maher, the retired chairman and CEO fo Maher Terminals and former chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce was quoted in a Washington Post article saying: "If somebody had said to me about a decade ago...that I would one day be down here in Washington speaking on behalf of early chidlhood education, I would have thought they were on drugs."
On drugs he was not. An evolving body of research and data showcases early education's astounding return on investment, and Maher joins a growing contingency of business and public sector leaders that have seen the connection between investment in a child's formative years as a direct investment in our future economy.
For a synthesis of the wide array of early childhood initiatives chambers and business organizations are engaging in across the country, refer to the recently-released study by America's Promise Alliance and project ReadyNation, with support from ACCE: Championing Success: Business Organizations for Early Childhood Investments.
The report shows that at least one state chamber of commerce, large city chamber, or state business roundtable in 44 states has publicly supported early childhood policy initiatives.
Numbers Don't Lie: Take a look to determine the potential impact of your investment.
- $11 of economic benefits over a child's lifetime for every $1 spent on Pre-K programs
- $7 in reducing societal and economic costs for every $1 spent on early childhood education
- Reduction in crime and societal costs
- Increase in college attainment and social and economic mobility