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(Jan 31 2014)   Energy Sector: SEIA Announces “New Industry Commitment to Quality Solar Workforce Training”; Joins Efforts with IREC 
 
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(Jan 31 2014)   HHS/ACF Seeks Public Comment on the Community Services Block Grant 
 
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(Jan 31 2014)   Aspen Institute Announces New Director of “Skills for America’s Future” 
 
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(Jan 31 2014)   Department’s Wage and Hour Division Seeks Public Comment on Information Collection -- Disclosure to Workers under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act 
 
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(Jan 30 2014)   AACC, Walmart Foundation Announce Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative; Target Capacity of Community Colleges to Train and Place Students in Middle-Skill Jobs 
 
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(Jan 30 2014)   SSTI Releases “Trends in Tech-Based Economic Development: Local, State and Federal Action in 2013” 
 
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(Jan 30 2014)   April 9 – 11 Conference in Dallas to Focus on Linkage between Transportation and Economic Development 
 
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(Jan 27 2014)   Planning Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement at-Risk of Homelessness 
 
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(Jan 27 2014)   Petitions for H-2A and H-2B Immigrant Status: HHS/USCIS Announces Annual List of Participating Countries 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   Education Resources Organization Directory: Department of Education Proposes Reinstatement of Information Collection 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   Update to the O*NET Tools and Technology Database 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   VA Offers $600 Million in Funding to Support Services for Homeless Veteran Families 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   HHS/ACF and OMB Seek Comment on New TANF Quarterly Financial Report 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   Presidential Memorandum Establishes a Quadrennial Energy Review; Department of Labor Joins Other Agencies on a Task Force for Research and Study Development 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   SBA Releases Compendium of Research Reports on Employment, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Access to Capital and Other Subjects 
 
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(Jan 24 2014)   High-Impact Learning Technologies: OSTP Publishes Request for Information 
 
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(Jan 22 2014)   Service for Veterans: Updated Military Occupations Included in O*NET Websites 
 
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(Jan 16 2014)   How to Read Research Findings to Distinguish Evidence-Based Programs from Everything Else: User-Friendly Tools for Policy Officials and Stakeholders 
 
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(Jan 14 2014)   HUD Awards $16.5 Million to Hundreds of Public Housing Authorities to Promote Family Self-Sufficiency; Funding Helps Gain Critical Employment/Life Skills to Compete for Jobs 
 
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(Jan 14 2014)   NADO and NACo January 30 Webinar to Highlight Innovative Local Economic Resilience Initiatives  
 
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(Jan 6 2014)   Manufacturing Sector: Manufacturing Council to Meet on January 14, Plans to Discuss Workforce Development Efforts by the Federal Government; MEP Advisory Board to Meet on January 28 
 
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(Jan 6 2014)   Renewable Energy Sector: Advisory Committee to Meet on January 23 to Consider Competitiveness, Trade Policy, Finance and Trade Promotion Subcommittee Recommendations 
 
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(Jan 3 2014)   HUD Awards $57 Million to Public Housing Authorities to Promote Family Self-Sufficiency; Service Coordinators to Connect Residents with Education, Job Training, Placement, and Financial Literacy Services 
 
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(Jan 3 2014)   Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership: Invitation to Comment on New “Playbook” and Its New Resources 
 

 

Description

 

Energy Sector: SEIA Announces “New Industry Commitment to Quality Solar Workforce Training”; Joins Efforts with IREC


On January 30, 2014, The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced a new industry commitment to quality solar workforce training, working with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). The release notes:

Development of this commitment demonstrates the groups’ efforts to build the foundation of a skilled, knowledgeable workforce trained to safely and effectively perform the tasks solar energy jobs require.

The commitment comes on the heels of a new report showing nearly 143,000 Americans are at work throughout the solar value chain at more than 6,100 businesses in the U.S. There has been a 20 percent increase in the workforce since 2012 – or 10 new solar jobs every hour of every workday.

We are proud to join with IREC during this exciting time for the solar industry. We have just come off a record-shattering year, we are looking forward to continued growth in 2014 and solar jobs are growing at 20 percent – 10 times faster than the national average. With all this activity, it is a perfect time to formalize an industry commitment to workforce training. SEIA encourages all its members to sign this important pledge,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president and CEO.

"The explosive growth in solar jobs makes quality training more relevant than ever," said Jane Weissman, president and CEO of IREC. "SEIA is driving forward the solar industry's commitment to quality workforce training with this demonstration of individual and collective support. With consumer interest in solar so high, there is no better time to instill confidence that the industry is committed to a highly trained workforce to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their investment.“

The market for solar energy in America is booming as the cost of solar technology plummets. Energy efficiency in new construction and retrofits in existing buildings are impacting energy demand while sustainability is becoming part of the fabric of the operations of corporations, municipalities and college campuses. These factors create a fundamental shift in the production and use of solar energy – and the need for a new generation of well-trained workers to build a solar infrastructure.

 

HHS/ACF Seeks Public Comment on the Community Services Block Grant


As a part of the annual or biannual application and plan required by subsection 676 of Community Services Block Gant Act, as amended, States must provide a number of assurances for receipt of funding under the Community Services Block Gant Act, including:

(5) an assurance that the State and the eligible entities in the State will coordinate, and establish linkages between, governmental and other social services programs to assure the effective delivery of such services to low-income individuals and to avoid duplication of such services, and a description of how the State and the eligible entities will coordinate the provision of employment and training activities, as defined in section 101 of such Act, in the State and in communities with entities providing activities through statewide and local workforce investment systems under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998;

HHS/ACF announced this week it is inviting public comment on the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Program Model Plan Application. Applicants have the option to submit a detailed application annually or biannually. Entities that submit a biannual application must provide an abbreviated application the following year if substantial changes to the initial application will occur. HHS/ACF is seeking OMB renewal on the application.

 

Aspen Institute Announces New Director of “Skills for America’s Future”


The Aspen Institute announced today that John Colborn has been appointed director of its Skills for America's Future initiative. Colborn joins the Aspen Institute after 15 years as a program officer and senior executive with the Ford Foundation. Skills for America's Future, part of the Institute's Economic Opportunities Program, is a private sector-led initiative which advocates for workforce development practices and partnerships to address the national workforce skills gap.

Maureen Conway, executive director of the Institute's Economic Opportunities Program, said, "John's long-standing leadership in the workforce and community college fields makes him an ideal director for this work. His depth of experience, commitment to enhancing labor market opportunities for disadvantaged people and extensive knowledge of workforce development policy and practice will provide Skills for America's Future with an exceptional leader."

In his role as a program officer with the Ford Foundation, Colborn undertook a range of grant making efforts focusing on industry-targeted workforce development partnerships, workforce development policy, and community colleges resulting in improved economic and educational opportunities for tens of thousands of Americans. He also played leadership roles in organizing networks of workforce development and community college funders.

News Release

 

Department’s Wage and Hour Division Seeks Public Comment on Information Collection -- Disclosure to Workers under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act


The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) safeguards migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in their interactions with Farm Labor Contractors, Agricultural Employers and Agricultural Associations, and providers of migrant farm worker housing. See Public Law 97-470. The MSPA requires Farm Labor Contractors, Agricultural Employers, and Agricultural Associations, who recruit, solicit, hire, employ, furnish, transport, or house agricultural workers, as well as providers of migrant housing, to meet certain minimum requirements in their dealings with migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. Various sections of the MSPA require respondents (e.g., Farm Labor Contractors, Agricultural Employers, and Agricultural Associations to disclose terms and conditions in writing to their workers. MSPA sections 201(g) and 301(f) requires that the DOL make forms available to provide such information. The DOL prints and makes optional-use form WH-516, Worker Information--Terms and Conditions of Employment.

The January 28 FEDERAL REGISTER notice provides complete background and instructions for the submission of comments.

 

AACC, Walmart Foundation Announce Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative; Target Capacity of Community Colleges to Train and Place Students in Middle-Skill Jobs


Through a new $4.19 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced today the Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative to expand the capacity of community colleges to prepare and place their students in middle-skill jobs for the long-term health and stability of our country.

Through a selective process, 17 community colleges will receive funding to collaborate with local employers to provide unemployed residents with training and access to middle-skill jobs. Four of the colleges that participated in the Workforce Economic Opportunity Initiative funded by the Walmart Foundation in October 2008 will receive funding to act as mentors. Work is expected to begin in spring 2014.

AACC will build on its experience from the Workforce Economic Opportunity Initiative. Twenty predominantly rural community colleges focused on developing leadership and partnerships to respond to workforce and economic development challenges. The timing of this grant, in light of the economic downturn, created unexpected and unprecedented challenges for these colleges. However, it reinforced the need to partner with industry and to leverage expertise and resources to create relevant programs and opportunities.

Mentor colleges, selected from the original cohort will leverage their programmatic and outcome experience, as well as significant partnerships. AACC also will equip colleges to use tools, including the Virtual Career Network career navigation platform launched with support from the U.S. Department of Labor, to help connect students with high growth jobs.

"With the support of the Walmart Foundation, this network of community colleges will boost the employability of residents while building sustainable partnerships with the workforce community," said AACC President and CEO Walter G. Bumphus. "This is not just a grant—it's an investment that will go a long way toward revitalizing the communities these colleges serve and ensuring people are on a promising career track."

To encourage a holistic approach to serving students, these community colleges will also provide wrap around services. This program supports Walmart Foundation's commitment to economic prosperity and opening job opportunities for those who need them most, as well as confidence in working with community colleges as economic engines in their communities.

"We are committed to creating opportunities for people to live better, and one important way we do this is by supporting middle skills job training," said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "Community colleges are a pathway for students to gain a valuable education and access to career opportunities, and through partnering with organizations like AACC we can help ensure that people receive the skills needed to succeed as they enter the workforce."

 

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SSTI Releases “Trends in Tech-Based Economic Development: Local, State and Federal Action in 2013”


Each year, the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) takes a retrospective look at the past year’s activities in technology-based economic development (TBED) and examines the environment to illustrate trends and put it all into perspective. This report (Trends in Tech-based Economic Development: Local, State and Federal Action in 2013) is not intended to be exhaustive; rather a compilation of examples in thematic areas from across the country. The various chapters address:

  • Expanding Research Capacity and Commercializing Research
  • Increasing Access to Capital
  • Tax Incentives
  • Higher Education Policy
  • University Reorganization
  • Investing in a Skilled Workforce
  • Federal Activity
  • Transparency

 

April 9 – 11 Conference in Dallas to Focus on Linkage between Transportation and Economic Development


International Transportation Economic Development (I-TED 2014) will be fifth international conference to concentrate on the linkage between transportation and economic development. Held April 9-11 in Dallas, Texas, USA, this conference will focus on the issues and challenges related to the economy, global concerns, and financial constraints. Participants will discuss and address the emerging transportation needs of businesses and economic development.

The conference agenda is designed to provide insight and information on the following topics:

  • Economic development implications of alternative transportation funding and financing strategies.
  • Economic development potential of passenger transport and freight rail infrastructure.
  • Assessing the economic development effects and community change of transit-oriented development.
  • International, national and regional economic development impacts of the Panama Canal expansion.
  • Linkages of international trade, economic development and transportation corridors and facilities.
  • Economic development implications of transportation disinvestment.
  • Climate change mitigation effects on transportation investments and sustainable economic development.
  • New perspectives on economic impact evaluation.
  • Economic development within the context of MAP-21 (July 2012 Re-Authorization Bill).
  • Transportation Improvements and market competitiveness.

Conference Website

 

Planning Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement at-Risk of Homelessness


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health and Human Services has recently proposed a new data collection for a process evaluation of "Planning Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement at-Risk of Homelessness" program.

This two year program, funded by the Children's Bureau within ACF, will support planning grants to develop a model for intervening with youth who have experienced time in foster care and are most likely to have a challenging transition to adulthood, including the possibility of homelessness or unstable housing.

Respondents are members of the planning team, which includes: Directors and staff from grantee agencies and partner agencies. Partner agencies may vary by site, but they are expected to include child welfare, mental health, and youth housing/homelessness agencies.

OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after the January 17 publication in the FEDERAL REGISTER. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent directly to the following: Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project, Email: OIRA_SUBMISSION@OMB.EOP.GOV, Attn: Desk Officer for the Administration for Children and Families.

 

Petitions for H-2A and H-2B Immigrant Status: HHS/USCIS Announces Annual List of Participating Countries


Under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may approve petitions for H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant status only for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, has designated. That notice must be renewed each year.

A January 17, 2014 FEDERAL REGISTER notice announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is identifying 63 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate.

 

Education Resources Organization Directory: Department of Education Proposes Reinstatement of Information Collection


The Department of Education has proposed the reinstatement of an information collection in support of its “Education Resources Organizations Directory.”

The Education Resource Organizations Directory (EROD) is an electronic directory of educational resource organizations and services available at the state, regional, and national level. The goal of this directory is to help individuals and organizations identify and contact organizational sources of information and assistance on a broad range of education-related topics. Users of the directory include diverse groups such as teachers, librarians, students, researchers, and parents.

The Department invites public comments by March 14. Click here for the January 13, 2013 FEDERAL REGISTER notice that provides additional background and summarizes the desired focus for comment.

 

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Update to the O*NET Tools and Technology Database


The O*NET team has passed along this advisory:

The tools and technology (T2) file provides information on machines, equipment, tools, and software that workers may use for optimal functioning in a high performance workplace. With this update, over 53,000 tools and technologies have now been identified for 774 occupations, including all 200+ O*NET Green occupations and over 85% of the Bright Outlook occupations.

The O*NET Project welcomes feedback on the T2 database. T2 information for 239 occupations has been enhanced with the help of customer input. After reviewing an occupation's current T2 information, you can submit specific suggestions for adding more examples of tools or technology through our T2 feedback process.

Download this file from our Developer's Corner, or explore the new T2 data in O*NET OnLine.

 

VA Offers $600 Million in Funding to Support Services for Homeless Veteran Families


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the availability of up to approximately $600 million in grants for non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that serve very low-income Veteran families occupying permanent housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

Required services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and providing or coordinating efforts to obtain needed entitlements and other community services. Grantees secure a broad range of other services for participants, including legal assistance; credit counseling; housing counseling; assisting participants in understanding leases, securing utilities, and coordinating moving arrangements; providing representative payee services concerning rent and utilities when needed; and serving as an advocate for the Veteran when mediating with property owners on issues related to locating or retaining housing. Grantees also offer temporary financial assistance that provides short-term assistance with rent, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, child care, transportation, utility costs, and emergency expenses.

The VA announced the availability of funds through a recent Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the FEDERAL REGISTER. VA is offering $300 million in FY 2014 funds and $300 million in FY 2015 funds, subject to available appropriations. VA will make award decisions based on a national competition.

In FY 2013, VA awarded approximately $300 million in SSVF grants for operations beginning in FY 2014. VA is focusing up to $300 million in surge funding on 76 high priority continuums of care in an unprecedented effort to end Veterans’ homelessness in these communities. In FY 2013, funding from the SSVF program served over 39,000 Veterans and over 62,000 participants (i.e., Veterans and their family members).

 

HHS/ACF and OMB Seek Comment on New TANF Quarterly Financial Report


The Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a new data collection:

TANF Quarterly Financial Report ACF-196R

Implementation of these changes will entail new costs to ACF, and thus, final adoption will depend upon funding availability. States participating in the TANF program are required by statute to report financial data on a quarterly basis. The form meets the legal standard and provides essential data on the use of federal TANF funds. Failure to collect the data would seriously compromise ACF''s ability to monitor program expenditures, estimate funding needs, and to prepare budget submissions and annual reports required by Congress. Financial reporting under the TANF program is governed by 45 CFR Part 265.

Approval of the ACF-196R would result in two basic changes to TANF quarterly financial reports.

  • The first is to require respondents to allocate annual expenditures among an expanded list of categories on the ACF-196R; these categories better reflect the wide range of activities on which states are expending TANF funds.

  • The second change is to the accounting method used to report expenditures made in a fiscal year and monitor cumulative expenditures by grant year award.

Specifically, effective FY 2015, with each open grant year award, respondents will be required to report actual expenditures made in a fiscal year rather than updating cumulative totals, using the ACF-196R.

If a respondent needs to adjust an expenditure reported in a prior year, it will revise the report for the fiscal year in which that expenditure occurred, rather than the current year's report.

HHS/ACF will maintain the ACF-196 form (Approved OMB No 0970-0247), only for revisions to historical data. Specifically, if a respondent needs to adjust or correct an expenditure submitted in a fiscal year prior to FY 2015, the respondent will revise the ACF-196 pertaining to the relevant grant year for expenditures cumulative through FY 2014. Thus, the reporting burden associated with the ACF-196 is greatly reduced.

The January 14, 2014 FEDERAL REGISTER provides additional background. HHS/ACF notes in closing:

OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication.

 

Presidential Memorandum Establishes a Quadrennial Energy Review; Department of Labor Joins Other Agencies on a Task Force for Research and Study Development


A January 9 Presidential Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies which establishes a Quadrennial Energy Review. The preamble:

Affordable, clean, and secure energy and energy services are essential for improving U.S. economic productivity, enhancing our quality of life, protecting our environment, and ensuring our Nation's security. Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive and integrated energy strategy resulting from interagency dialogue and active engagement of external stakeholders. To help the Federal Government better meet this responsibility, I am directing the undertaking of a Quadrennial Energy Review.

The Task Force shall submit a Quadrennial Energy Review Report to the President every 4 years beginning with a report delivered by January 31, 2015. Intermediate reports and other material may be prepared by the Task Force as required by the President.

 

SBA Releases Compendium of Research Reports on Employment, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Access to Capital and Other Subjects


In FY 2013, The Office of Advocacy within the Small Business Administration produced 22 contract and internal research reports on a variety of topics including access to capital, small business exporters, entrepreneurship, and minority- and women-owned businesses. In addition to these reports, Advocacy economists participated in roundtables and conferences about various small business topics and conducted presentations to audiences that included policymakers, academics, and/or the media. These outreach efforts are important for small business stakeholders around the country.

Please visit http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/files/13_OER_Ann_Rpt.pdf for a synopsis of the research reports and links.

 

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High-Impact Learning Technologies: OSTP Publishes Request for Information


The Office of Science and Technology Policy has announced it is seeking public comments to inform its policy development related to high-impact learning technologies.

OSTP’s Request for Information (RFI) “offers the opportunity for interested individuals and organizations to identify public and private actions that have the potential to accelerate the development, rigorous evaluation, and widespread adoption of high-impact learning technologies. The focus of this RFI is on the design and implementation of ‘pull mechanisms’ for technologies that significantly improve a given learning outcome. Pull mechanisms increase the incentives to develop specific products or services by committing to reward success. Examples of pull mechanisms include incentive prizes, Advance Market Commitments, milestone payments, “pay for success'' bonds, and purchasing consm1ia (sic).

OSTP notes, in part:

Some of the advantages of pull mechanisms are that a funder can (a) pay only for success; (b) set a goal without having to choose in advance which team or approach is most likely to be successful; and (c) increase the number and intellectual diversity of the teams that are working to solve a particular problem. Although there a variety of different types of pull mechanisms, they generally require establishing a clear goal and an agreed-upon set of metrics for evaluating progress towards that goal. If education is going to benefit from increased use of pull mechanisms, policy-makers and stakeholders have to identify some specific challenges that are important and measurable, and where it is plausible that learning technology can help improve student outcomes.

OSTP enumerates this line of inquiry for responses:

  1. What learning outcomes would be good candidates for the focus of a pull mechanism to catalyze the creation and use of new learning technology? These outcomes could be relevant to early childhood education, K-20, life-long learning, workforce readiness and skills, etc.
  2. How are these learning outcomes currently measured and assessed?
  3. What information exists about current U.S. performance relative to this learning outcome? What information exists about the presence (currently available or potential given current trends or breakthroughs) or absence of effective interventions (technology-based, offline, or hybrid) to improve this learning outcome?
  4. Why would a pull mechanism in this area accelerate innovation in learning technology?
  5. What role might different stakeholders (e.g. Federal agencies, state and local educational agencies, foundations, researchers, practitioners, companies, investors, or non-profit organizations) play in designing, funding, and implementing a pull mechanism for learning technology? What role would your organization be willing to play?
  6. What changes in public policy would facilitate experimentation with pull mechanisms at different levels of government?

Comments must be received by March 7, 2014.

OSTP provides additional background on the RFI (including its enumeration of reasons for the gap between the potential of learning science and technology and the current state-of-the-practice) in the January 13, 2014 FEDERAL REGISTER.

 

Service for Veterans: Updated Military Occupations Included in O*NET Websites


The Military Occupational Classification (MOC) crosswalk has been updated by the Department of Defense (November 2013) and incorporated into O*NET OnLine and My Next Move for Veterans. Over 10,000 MOC occupations are linked to related O*NET-SOC occupations. The crosswalk is supplemented with data from the Army COOL and Navy COOL projects.

Transitioning military personnel can use their military code or title to discover related civilian occupations/careers within O*NET Online's Military Crosswalk Search or My Next Move for Veterans' Military Transition Search.

 

How to Read Research Findings to Distinguish Evidence-Based Programs from Everything Else: User-Friendly Tools for Policy Officials and Stakeholders


The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy has announced the availability of a workshop -- How to Read Research Findings to Distinguish Evidence-Based Programs from Everything Else: User-Friendly Tools for Policy Officials and Stakeholders. The workshop consists of two brief video series (available here at no charge, 90 minutes total), followed by eight optional weekly conference calls providing hands-on experience reviewing actual studies (costing $150 for all eight sessions).

The next set of conference calls starts the week of April 21. To participate, please contact David Anderson (danderson@coalition4evidence.org, 202-239-1248).

 

HUD Awards $16.5 Million to Hundreds of Public Housing Authorities to Promote Family Self-Sufficiency; Funding Helps Gain Critical Employment/Life Skills to Compete for Jobs


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $16.3 million in grants to help public housing residents to gain access to education, job training and employment. HUD’s Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program (PH-FSS) helps public housing authorities across the country to hire or retain more than 300 program coordinators who will work directly with families to connect them to the supportive services that meet their individual needs and to become gainfully employed.

News Release / List of Grant Awardees by Location

HUD also recently awarded an additional $57 million to hundreds of public housing authorities, allowing them to hire or retain more than one thousand program coordinators to help families participating in the Department’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

 

NADO and NACo January 30 Webinar to Highlight Innovative Local Economic Resilience Initiatives


Counties, regions, and communities that can foresee, adapt, and leverage changing economic conditions are best positioned to attract and grow new businesses, retain skilled workers, and promote a high quality-of-life. As a result of constrained local budgets and economic uncertainties, counties must think creatively about their local and regional strengths and how to translate those assets into economic growth. To address this, the National Association of Counties (NACo) recently released a report, “Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action”, to highlight how counties across the country are pursuing creative and innovative policies, partnerships, and initiatives to create healthy, safe, vibrant, and economically resilient communities. On January 30 from 2:00-3:15pm ET, NADO, in conjunction with NACo, will host a webinar that overviews the findings from the report and features three county leaders that are pursuing long-range planning efforts, growing and supporting local entrepreneurs and businesses, and engaging in workforce development programs and education to encourage economic growth and lasting resilience. Click here to register for the webinar.

 

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Manufacturing Sector: Manufacturing Council to Meet on January 14, Plans to Discuss Workforce Development Efforts by the Federal Government; MEP Advisory Board to Meet on January 28


The Manufacturing Council will hold a January 14 meeting to discuss the work the Council will focus on in 2014. At the meeting, the Council will hear updates from its four subcommittees on workforce development and public perception of manufacturing; manufacturing energy policy; tax policy and export growth; and innovation, research and development.

The Council will discuss current workforce development efforts by the federal government, the opportunities for increasing alternative energy efforts in manufacturing, and specific ideas for innovation improvements in manufacturing. The Council will also discuss and deliberate a letter of recommendation on corporate tax reform. A final agenda will be available on the Council's Web site one week prior to the meeting. The Council was re-chartered on April 5, 2012, to advise the Secretary of Commerce on government programs and policies that affect U.S. manufacturing and provide a means of ensuring regular contact between the U.S. Government and the manufacturing sector.

The meeting will be held at the Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC.

Additional background / logistics / pre-registration

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Advisory Board will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. This meeting will focus on (1) MEP administrative updates, and (2) Board input into the NIST MEP strategic planning process.

The Board is composed of 10 members, appointed by the Director of NIST. MEP is a unique program consisting of centers across the United States and Puerto Rico with partnerships at the state, federal, and local levels. The Board provides a forum for input and guidance from Hollings MEP program stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of tools and services focused on supporting and growing the U.S. manufacturing industry, provides advice on MEP programs, plans, and policies, assesses the soundness of MEP plans and strategies, and assesses current performance against MEP program plans.

Click here for additional information on the meeting. Background information on the Board is available at http://www.nist.gov/mep/advisory-board.cfm.

 

Renewable Energy Sector: Advisory Committee to Meet on January 23 to Consider Competitiveness, Trade Policy, Finance and Trade Promotion Subcommittee Recommendations


The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (RE&EEAC) will meet via conference call on January 23, 2014 to consider and vote on proposed recommendations from the U.S. Competitiveness, Trade Policy, Finance and Trade Promotion Subcommittees that address issues affecting U.S. competitiveness in exporting renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) products and services. The conference call is open to the public; it will be held between 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

The RE&EEAC provides the Secretary of Commerce with consensus advice from the private sector on the development and administration of programs and policies to enhance the international competitiveness of the U.S. RE&EE industries. The RE&EEAC held its first meeting on February 20, 2013 and several subsequent meetings throughout 2013. The Committee's charter expires June 18, 2014.

More ...

 

HUD Awards $57 Million to Public Housing Authorities to Promote Family Self-Sufficiency; Service Coordinators to Connect Residents with Education, Job Training, Placement, and Financial Literacy Services


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $57 million in grants to help residents receiving housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program to gain access to education, job training and employment. HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency Program (HCV-FSS) helps public housing authorities across the country to hire or retain more than one thousand service coordinators who will work directly with families to connect them to the supportive services that meet their individual needs and to become gainfully employed.

The service coordinators retained or hired through these programs work directly with residents to connect them with local organizations that provide education and job training and placement opportunities; as well as childcare, counseling, transportation and computer and financial literacy services available in their community. This program encourages innovative strategies that link Housing Choice Voucher assistance with other resources to enable participating families to find employment; increase earned income; reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance; and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.

Participants sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. As the family’s income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying debts.

Listing of Grant Awards by State and Housing Authority

Link to the HUD Press Release

 

Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership: Invitation to Comment on New “Playbook” and Its New Resources


Jim Jones is the Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) in January 2012. His December 30, 2013 blog post discusses the launch of the “Playbook” for the Administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership and invites public comment on possible future adjustments. Note that “Workforce and Training” is a featured within the “Backbone” component of the Playbook.

America’s got (Manufacturing) Talent

Did you know that we help small-to-medium sized local businesses to be more sustainable? EPA works with five other federal agencies through a special partnership called E3: Economy, Energy and the Environment to connect these companies and their communities to technical experts.

Did you know that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has a network of Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States to help women start and grow small businesses?

Did you know that the Census Bureau has extensive county-level economic and demographic data and is making that data available to communities to help them assess their regional business environments?

You’ll find these resources in a new playbook recently created by a federal team of experts under the President’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). The IMCP Playbook pulls together existing federal planning grant and technical assistance resources and best practices in economic development.

The President’s IMCP is accelerating the resurgence of manufacturing and creating a competitive climate for communities to attract manufacturing jobs and investment. It rewards communities that do this by using best practices and smarter planning that integrates targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Will the playbook work? To answer that question, we first asked a panel of seasoned community leaders what they thought. Their response was very positive, with each offering additional ideas for improvement. But the real proof in this pudding will be known only after our first full season of implementation.

Is your community ready to start developing a strategy to attract or expand manufacturing? Follow the playbook’s three-step approach to help you attract and strengthen manufacturing business and workforce opportunities.

Like any good playbook, we will look to make adjustments as we move forward. Tell us what you think about the IMCP Playbook. Send your thoughts and comments to murray.tom-hq@epa.gov.