Executive Director Discusses National Perspective on Supply Chain for Middle-Skills Jobs

Last month the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Engineering and Medicine hosted a symposium focused on The Supply Chain for Middle-Skill Jobs: Education, Training and Certification Pathways. The half day event took place
in the National Academy building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. The symposium was part of a research project commissioned by the NAS Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy to investigate a number of different aspects of middle skill jobs. First, there is the question of how we define middle skill jobs. Next, an ad hoc committee is exploring the attributes and aspects of these jobs. Finally, current labor workforce needs that impact the coverage, effectiveness, flexibility, and coordination among the nation's programs to prepare Americans for technically oriented, skilled positions in the workforce demanding non-routine problem-solving skills, but requiring a baccalaureate degree was examined. The education and training systems under study include: apprenticeship programs offered by schools, unions, and employers; high school career and technical education (CTE) programs; advanced technical education and training in community colleges and for-profit colleges; employer-financed and provided training; federal education and training programs; state learning exchanges; public-private employment training partnerships; and licensing and skills certification. 

Among the questions the committee hopes to answer are those pertinent to current gaps in coverage and market failures in this part of the labor market. Topics addressed include the current and preferred public and private sector roles in financing, and providing employment training and skills certification as well as the incentives and information for individuals to improve their work skills. Several employment preparation practices in other countries and those of foreign-headquartered firms and their relevance to the U.S. labor market are included in the study. 

The symposium format was a series of short presentations on these topics by individual researchers. FLATE was invited to participate as part of a panel of experts and working professionals who responded to the report from their own work and experience perspective. The presentations and input from the panel discussants seeded lively audience question and answer periods after the panels. The goal was to provide additional input and resources for the researchers to explore and include in their reports. The entire event was webcast and recorded and should be available soon on the National Academy website, with the final consensus report summarizing the findings available in 2016. The ultimate goal is to provide definitions and background for national strategies to support the current and emerging workforce needs for these middle-skill career pathways. 

The event was a great experience for me. It was also a wonderful opportunity to share the “Florida Plan,” and the
Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)
addresses the Middle Skills NAS symposium
work FLATE has done in Florida embedding industry credentials into high school and 2-year college technical programs and providing multiple flexible, strong pathways into and out of workforce education for manufacturing. On the flip side, I do have some concern about researchers and policy professionals in our capital and elite research institutions that seem to have little to no experience in the “field” proposing national policies based on their understanding from an academic perspective. Lastly, never having been to the National Academy building, I was captivated by its history, its elegance, and its important niche in our Federal Government. It is open to the public and has some awesome facilities, art, and information to share. I totally recommend it as an additional “bucket” list stop when you visit the National Mall. 

…And now I’d like to invite you to read the rest of the stories in the July edition of the FLATE Focus. Our robotics and the energy camps are off to a good start—do read a recap from the ones we’ve had so far and follow us on our social networking platforms as we push forward with the rest of the robotics camps this month. Curriculum and professional development is never far away from our bigger mission to stay connected with industry and educators…take some time to read the stories about our Nanotechnolgy camp for teachers and also the summer institute for teachers which was great hit with educators and local manufacturers. Do congratulate the STEP awardees for their remarkable accomplishments, and read up on the new ET program at Lake Sumter State College. Don’t forget to sign up for the educator workshop at FACTE coming up later this month and check your answers to last month’s sTEm puzzle. This and many more stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus! Do write to us at news@fl-ate.org, or post your comments and stay connected through our social networking platforms on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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