On July 31, 2018, the president signed the Strengthening the Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) into law. This provides the primary source of federal direction to states regarding the implementation of Career and Technical Training programs for secondary and post-secondary students. The new law maintains the general structure and themes of the previous Perkins law, but provides some new opportunities for tighter alignment of programs of study to data-driven workforce needs.
One new component of Perkins V is a local needs assessment which must be completed every two years. The data from this assessment will include labor market information to identify the high-wage, high-skill, in-demand occupations so that local colleges and school systems can tailor their programs to match. The needs assessment will also look at strategies to address the needs of underserved populations to identify ways to close their performance gaps.
The new Perkins law is also intentionally aligned with the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act so that the two workforce plans can be developed in concert and submitted as one combined workforce development plan. Alabama leaders will maximize this opportunity and are building a coalition of state workforce agencies and partners. Through joint planning, we aim to fully realize the availability of training for Alabamians and make the best possible use of federal funds to support our citizens with the highest quality services.
The full Perkins V and WIOA plans will take effect in June of 2020. In the meantime, there is a lot of work to do. The Governor’s office, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Community College System, and the long list of WIOA partners are beginning now to gather the data and shareholder input needed to write an effective combined plan.
We will be calling heavily on our workforce partners in the AlabamaWorks! network to play key leadership roles in the development of this plan, which will ultimately result in adding an extra 500,000 Alabamians who hold a post high school credential (AlabamaWorks Success Plus). It will take all of us working together to make sure every business in Alabama has access to a ready workforce, and all citizens have the skills they need to gain meaningful employment and advance along their chosen career pathway.
You will be hearing more about this assessment in your local area and how you can participate. We hope all of you will join us in this valuable endeavor.
Josh Laney is the senior director for workforce development at Alabama State Department of Education.