SUPPORTING A FULL RECOVERY: RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE WORKFORCE INFORMATION ADVISORY COUNCIL TO THE SECRETARY OF LABOR
Introduction: Pursuant to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA), the Workforce Information Advisory Council (Council) is pleased to provide for your consideration two sets of recommendations, unanimously approved by the Council, to improve the nation’s Workforce and Labor Market Information (WLMI) System.
As America continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are continuing to struggle. These challenges remain even more acute for historically underserved communities. The nation’s WLMI System is essential for supporting meaningful and effective strategies toward a true American recovery, particularly a recovery that advances racial equity and supports underserved communities. This requires the highest possible quality of data and information at the local level in order to identify the nature and extent of challenges and inequities, and to measure whether those challenges and inequities are truly being addressed. Without that critical information, we may only continue to perpetuate the current challenges and historical inequities.
The Council appointed in 2016 by Secretary Perez submitted its first set of recommendations to Secretary Acosta in January 2018. Secretary Acosta provided his response in December 2018. Based on that response and as required by WIOA, in May 2020 Secretary Scalia submitted his Two-Year Plan for the Workforce and Labor Market Information System to Congress. Soon after, Secretary Scalia appointed the current members of the Council, including four who were previously appointed by Secretary Perez.
After reconvening in 2020, the Council identified the need for expedited recommendations to address issues that the global pandemic had made more urgent. The Council approved a set of three expedited recommendations on August 31, 2021. On March 24, 2022, Secretary Walsh provided a response in which he recognized the importance of each of the expedited recommendations and the actions DOL will take in response.
The Council continued meeting following approval of the expedited recommendations, and developed recommendations focused in two areas: data sharing and synchronization; and connecting workers with the work. The Council approved those recommendations on May 11, 2022.
BACKGROUND: Through WIOA, Congress directs the Secretary to oversee development of a WLMI System that enables state and local labor market participants—including employers, students, workers, workforce investment boards, and education and training agencies and institutions—to make informed decisions.
The law directs the Secretary to develop the WLMI System:
Through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA);
In collaboration with states;
In cooperation with the heads of other federal agencies to ensure complementarity and nonduplication; and
In consultation with the 14-member Workforce Information Advisory Council appointed by the Secretary.
WLMI consists of the data and information used by businesses, workers, students, job seekers, education and training providers, workforce development planners and policymakers, and others, to make informed decisions in areas such as hiring and advancement, career choice, curriculum development, and investments in training. WLMI is essential to the nation’s economy, providing for the efficient operation of labor markets by supplying quality labor market intelligence. Accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible WLMI is critical for:
Building a skilled workforce that spurs business competitiveness and economic growth;
Strengthening career pathways and guiding skill attainment for good jobs, economic opportunity, and career growth;
Advancing equity for all, particularly for people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality;
Understanding the rapidly changing nature of work and how it impacts the workforce and U.S. economy; and
Using evidence-based policymaking to ensure the effective use of workforce training and education funds.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS: The Council’s recommendations to the Secretary focus on two key areas. The first is advancing data sharing and synchronization for evidence building. The second is addressing the disconnect between people seeking work and employers looking for workers.
I. Data Sharing and Synchronization -- Direct appropriate leadership, staff, and resources to:
Recommendation 1: Support immediate action to establish a National Secure Data Service (NSDS).
Recommendation 2: Articulate the key principles that must be adhered to in the design of the NSDS.
Recommendation 3: Publicly commit to the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) engagement with the newly established NSDS.
II. Workers and the Work
Recommendation 4: Direct BLS and ETA to co-author a plan for improving DOL-supported data on job openings based on input from the trade associations representing state WLMI agencies (LMI Institute, NASWA).
Recommendation 5: Direct ETA’s Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) and the Secretary’s Office of Unemployment Insurance Modernization (OUIM) to obtain state agency input through NASWA regarding how DOL can best provide UI grant funding to expand state capacity to gather and effectively use current, reliable UI data in support of UI claimants finding new work.
Recommendation 6: Direct the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP) to prepare a report, in consultation with ETA and BLS, for the Secretary’s consideration that: identifies public and private data sources which have the potential to build evidence regarding workers’ experiences and challenges in seeking and finding new jobs; and suggests options for DOL agencies to use these data sources to help address barriers that workers experience.
[posted by DOL 9.8.22]