Provide evidence of alignment to local or regional needs and strategies as outlined by local workforce boards and partners in the WIOA

WEST ABE is a strong and active partner in the local and regional workforce development system in Workforce Service Area (WSA) #3.  The ABE Manager represented ABE on the Workforce Development Board for seven years and ABE is now represented by a Metro North instructor.  The workforce center, now renamed CareerForce, is located in WEST ABE’s fiscal agent town of Monticello where there is an ABE lab on location and open from 8:00 – 4:00, Monday through Friday. In this role she represented ABE for Central Minnesota East ABE, Glacial Lakes ABE, Granite Falls Region ABE, Metro North ABE-Elk River, St. Croix River Education District (SCRED) Metro East ABE and WEST Adult Basic Education.  As an ABE representative, she regularly attended board meetings providing input, updates and guidance with respect to the role of Adult Education and how we can work together in Career Pathway programming development and implementation within the Workforce Service Area. She also assisted in the developing relationships and connections to help inform the local plan ensuring that local providers, employers and clients are aware of ABE programming within their local workforce service area.  Pam Moriarty from Metro North now shares information garnered from those meetings to her ABE colleagues in a monthly email.

Regional Workforce Development Plan

The Regional Workforce Development Plan (RWDP) aligns with the Local Plans with a strategic vision set by the Governor and addresses the regional needs of the workforce and Business communities and complies with the planning requirement as determined by the State of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Labor and applicable federal and state statutes.

Our Vision Statement:  A healthy economy, where all Minnesotans have or are on a path to meaningful employment and a family sustaining wage, and all employers are able to fill jobs in demand.

The primary strategies and areas of focus for our regional plan include:

  1. Analyze regional needs and focus training, education and career pathways towards these major industries in need. With 49,143 jobs at 1,449 firms, health care and social assistance is the largest employing industry in Central Minnesota.  In addition Central MN is still adding healthcare and social assistance jobs, gaining 3,787 net new jobs over the past five years. At $43,507 (2016 analysis) average annual wages were about $2,500 higher in health care than the total of all industries at $43,507. The next largest industry in Central MN is manufacturing with 41,373 jobs at 1,156 forms and adding over 4,500 jobs in the last five years, higher than any other industry in the region.  Retail trade is the third largest industry, with 35,699 jobs at 2,205 establishments and the related accomodation and food services industry also provides 24,019 jobs in the region, combining to provide over 22% of total jobs in the region.  However, both industries have relatively low wages.
  2. Establishment of a regional leadership approach through development of an Executive Committee and Regional Workforce Alliance that identifies strategies and initiative to promote and develop career pathways in these identified industry sectors.
  3. Create and implement Region #3 services and goals for Career, Training and Support.  This is to ensure all staff has equal access to unemployment services in the region and establishing industry-validated career pathway programming.
  4. Engagement of Stakeholders through the above mentioned strategies that includes representatives of populations experiencing disparities in employment, business and trade associations, ABE consortia, CareerForce Center partners, Regional Development Commissions, secondary and post-secondary schools, service cooperatives and Career Advising Projects.
  5. Submission of local plans that align with the regional plan by creating Executive summaries that encompass the goals for the regional plan.

Many steps have been taken to put the above items into actions.  Some of these are: inviting Key Stakeholders to gatherings, H-B1 TechHire Partnership Grant that serves a minimum of 330 participants ages 18-29 and arms them with the skills needed rapidly and connects them to well-paying jobs, creating a $622,000 retail sector strategy and career pathway grant that expanded services for those who wanted to enter retail and a focus on immigrant inequalities for a targeted outreach formula so that grant funds can better serve populations facing disparities.

Local Workforce Development Plan

The primary goals and strategies outlined in the local plan for WSA #3 as they relate to ABE include:

  • Meeting the needs of local employers, works and job seekers by addressing recruitment strategies, affordable housing, soft skills training for new and incumbent workers, career laddering options, career planning for job seekers and basic computer or digital literacy skills.
  • Creating a service delivery system that aligns the work done by CareerForce and partnering agencies to ensure that all barriers to service are eliminated.
  • Explore opportunities to have a greater ABE presence at the Workforce Center with a common referral for similar slients.
  • Explore the possibilities of including ABE in the MFIP orientation and other programs as appropriate which lends to a seamless delivery to access Adult Basic Education and Literacy services.
  • Continue the development of career pathways through partnerships with both Minnesota State and ABE partners, and other activities that lead to industry-recognized credentials.

The ABE Programs in WSA #3 work in a variety of ways to align programming and respond to identified goals.  Some examples are:

  • The ABE Manager attends bi-monthly meetings at the Workforce Center (CareerForce) in Monticello.  These meetings are with all one-stop partners and discussions are had concerning how to better partner and collaborate between programs. Roles and Responsibilities are also defined for the benefit of our populations and help in establishing an updated MOU.
  • Title I programs are currently developing protocols , documentation and data-sharing procedures for inclusion on a newly revised MOU so that we may better align services.
  • Case workers refer their students to ABE for the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) so that we all use common assessment tools and language.
  • ABE has been co-located in the workforce center since 2004.  Having the ABE classroom on-site leads to a well-rounded adult-centered environment for students and also is a natural bridge between adult literacy and workforce programming designed to meet all of the students’ needs.
  • The workforce center offers monthly workshops that have long been available to universal clients of the workforce system.  Recently ABE and Workforce have begun to work cooperatively to more heavily promote these workshops with ABE students across the consortium.  The workshops currently offered include the following, as defined by DEED:
  • National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) Assessment – and ACT credential that helps job seekers stand out in the market by showing employers that they have the skills that employers are seeking.
  • Creative Job Search – This workshop provides resources and strategies for job search preparation, identifying skills, resume development and interviewing skills.
  • Job Club – A weekly opportunity for job seekers to gather and discuss their job searches, share job leads, improve job seeking skills and offer support and encouragement to each other.
  • ABE classrooms serve a special category of adult learner call Conditional Content Learner.  This category was created in 2009 by the state ABE staff and replaced the Work-Based Project Learner category for students coming in for short periods of time typically using multiple services and was career focused.  This policy allows qualifying workforce clients to be referred, in writing, to ABE for up to 30 hours of instruction in the areas of Basic Technology Skills, Job Seeking Skills and Soft Skills Necessary for Work (such as SCANS skills).
  • MN ABE programs have adopted content standards in three domains, including Soft Skills Necessary for eMployment.  All staff in our consortium have been trained on implementing the Academic, Career and Employability (ACES) addressed in the Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) into their instruction.  This addresses the development of six key Soft Skills categories, including: Effective Communication (EC), Learning Strategies (LS), Critical Thinking (CT), Self-Management (SM), Developing a Future Pathway (DFP) and Navigation Systems (NS).  ABE is able to offer this professional service as a way to meet Soft Skills training needs as defined in the local plan.
  • ABE classrooms embed technology into and continue to expand access to distance learning platforms throughout the region.  Access to digital platforms allows students with transportation challenges to access technology-based instruction. Proctored Northstar Digital LIteracy assessments are available in ABE locations across the consortium and provide a portable certificate that can prove that a workforce-referred client has the necessary digital skills to become an effective employee or student.

ABE continues to seek out other collaborative opportunities with groups that focus on the issues that are resulting in a lack of employees to fill employment pipelines.