Career Learning for Adult Self-Sufficiency (CLASS)


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Creating More Flexibility to Serve Youth


Secretary Perez is focused on promoting shared prosperity – so that everyone in America has the opportunity to benefit from our growing economy. But for over six million of our youth who are out of school and not working, these opportunities are hard to come by.  Coming from low-income communities, through the foster care or juvenile justice systems or from families struggling with homelessness, they often have multiple challenges to overcome.


Making opportunities for success accessible to as many people as possible is a core value of this department and our youth-focused programs and grants. Unfortunately, sometimes administrative barriers hinder coordination and alignment across the various federal programs and create unnecessary obstacles to meeting the needs of our youth. 


That’s why our department is collaborating with four other federal agencies – the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute for Museum and Library Services – to launch the Performance Partnership Pilot for Disconnected Youth - known as P3.


This P3 initiative will fund up to 10 pilots, with start-up grants of up to $700,000, to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for targeted disconnected youth.  What’s innovative about P3 is the flexibility it allows the pilot programs to blend together funds that they already receive from different federal sources, to increase program impact.


For example, the selected pilot programs could propose to blend the Labor Department’s Workforce Investment Act youth funds with Department of Education adult education funds to create a more integrated and effective job-driven training program. This would help eliminate barriers to employment and ensure at-risk youth are equipped with the skills employers need. 


Over the next several months, the P3 initiative will be accepting applications from organizations and partnerships interested in developing a pilot program to test this strategy. While lead applicants must be a state, local, or tribal government entity, non-governmental organization may still serve as key partners in designing and implementing pilots. Priority will be given to applications that draw on existing evidence of what works and commit to collecting and using reliable data for decision-making and accountability.


For more information about the P3 initiative, visit:


For information about applying for the grant, visit:


A webinar for prospective applicants will be hosted on Monday, Dec. 1. For details, visit:

What’s all this talk about the importance of occupational credentials?  Well, we know that attaining postsecondary and occupational credentials is critical for youth to be successful in the 21st century economy.  Good-paying jobs in high demand industries generally require postsecondary education or training.  Plus, the increase in earnings that accompanies postsecondary credentials is well established.  To help workforce professionals identify promising occupations for youth served by the workforce system, and the credentials that help youth attain them, The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has developed the Credentials for Youth tool.  This tool, available at, provides a step-by-step process for helping youth attain credentials in high demand occupations.  First, it connects users to resources that can help them find high demand occupations in their local area using labor market information.  It then helps practitioners identify promising occupations for youth and determine which of those occupations have pathways to career advancement.  Finally, the tool helps discover the credentials required for the identified promising occupations and provides certification information about specific occupations, including links to certifying organizations.

 In addition to the step-by-step process, the Credentials for Youth tool also provides local examples of programs that help youth attain credentials:  allied health in Los Angeles, California; warehousing and distribution, and supply chain management in Clayton County, Georgia; and IT in Marion County, Indiana.  We know there are many other workforce programs out there that help youth attain these important occupational credentials and get them on the right career pathway. 

How does your program connect youth to promising occupations through credential attainment? 

What are those critical program elements needed to help youth enter and succeed in the workforce?

What occupational credentials and training does your program offer youth?

Respond to this blog with your thoughts and program experience. 

Also, join us in a our WIA Youth Chat on November 15th at noon Eastern to engage in a conversation with your peers out in the field about how they help youth succeed in attaining credentials and entering the 21st Century Economy.


The month of May is an exciting time for many of our Nation’s youth as they make decisions about their education and training pathways.

Many of us have the privilege of working with young people to help them plan their future.  This task has been exciting and challenging all at the same time. There are so many choices and minds can change so many times.

We even work to help them fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms and find funding for post-secondary opportunities. 

Did you know you can use U.S. Department of Labor’s American Job Center Career Tools Page to…

- Learn about occupational certifications and how to acquire them- Certification Finder

- Locate regional, state and local training and education opportunities by occupation-Education & Training Finder-

Find funding options to pay for education and training- Financial Aid Advisor

-Find new careers where you can use the skills you gained in a past job- mySkills myFuture

- Search more than 7,000 scholarships, fellowships, loans, and other financial aid opportunities- Scholarship Search

- Find education and training programs where you can earn a certificate, diploma, or award in less than 2 years- Short-Term Training Finder

Check it out!

Now that all of your hard work has paid off, why don’t you share with us the educational, training or placement options your youth program participants will be pursuing? 

Will they be attending a Technical Training School, Community College, 4-Year College or University; serving in our a branch of our Nation’s Military; participating in a Registered Apprenticeship; obtaining an Industry-Recognized Credential or Certification; or joining Job Corps or a YouthBuild program?

We want to know what they'll be studying and how your program helped them achieve their goals.

It's your turn to brag a bit- We want to hear from you!


Entrepreneurships and small business development have been identified as an important employment option for populations including youth who have barriers to employment. 


Specifically, youth can benefit from leadership and financial management skills provided by entrepreneurship work experiences, particularly in a labor market where traditional jobs for youth are scarce. 


Share your ideas and thoughts about entrepreneurships for youth people and resources that self-employment and developmental activities for at-risk and out-of-school youth.  

Volunteering: Helping Yourself and Your Community

In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued an Economic News Release entitled “Volunteering in the United States – 2012.”  It provided a statistical look at volunteering and the characteristics of volunteers.  Would you have guessed that approximately 64.5 million people in the United States volunteered through or for an organization at least once in 2012?   Slightly less than 9 million 16 to 24 year old youth and young adults participated in some type of volunteer activity.  Volunteer rates were lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.9 percent).  Teens (16- to 19-year-olds) had a volunteer rate of 27.4 percent.  The main volunteer activities performed included collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food, and fundraising.  To view the full news release, visit:   

The Corporation for National and Community Service recently released “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment Report” which provides evidence of a relationship between volunteering and finding employment.  Key findings identified in the report include:

  • Volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers
  • Volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51 percent higher likelihood of finding employment
  • Volunteers living in rural areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of finding employment

In addition to positive relationship between volunteering and finding employment, there are other benefits including: 

  1. Connecting people to new friends and contacts and increasing social and relationship skills;
  2. people increase their confidence, and physical health;
  3. Providing career experience and teaching valuable job skills; and
  4. Bringing fun and fulfillment to people’s lives by providing opportunities to explore interests and passions. 

Some helpful resources to find out how to get involved with a volunteer organization and identify possible volunteer opportunities include: 

We would like to get your input on community service ideas that others may find useful. 

What community service activities do you engage in?

What community service activities do your participants enjoy the most?

How do you get young people motivated or engaged in community service activities?

How often do you inform your young people of community service opportunities?

Do you explain the benefits that young people can gain from participating in volunteer activities?

 Does the typical high school education adequately prepare students for career success?  While some students will graduate from high-school and go on to post-secondary education, others will go straight from high school into the world of work.  It is critical that the high school experience helps prepare youth for both further education and careers.  One strategy that is becoming more common in high schools is the Career Academy approach.  Career Academies typically include three key features: (1) they are organized as small learning communities to create a more supportive, personalized learning environment; (2) they combine academic and career and technical curricula around a career theme to enrich teaching and learning; and (3) they establish partnerships with local employers to provide career awareness and work-based learning opportunities for students.  Career Academies are one of the few youth education and training programs that have been rigorously evaluated.  Based on MDRC studies ( they have a positive impact.


Building in part from this evidence base, the Department of Labor recently announced an exciting grant opportunity called Youth Career Connect that will award up to $100 million in grant funds to 25 to 40 grantees using funding from H-1B fees.  In response to industry skill shortages in high-growth industries and occupations, Congress established the H-1B visa category for non-immigrants seeking work in high-skill or specialty occupations (in industries such as engineering, information technology, and health care), and imposed a user fee on employers for H-1B visa applications.  The Youth Career Connect grant funding will provide high school students with education and training that combines rigorous academic and technical curricula focused on specific high-growth industries and occupations for which employers are using H-1B visas to hire foreign workers.  The grants will also provide the related activities necessary to support such training in order to increase participants’ employability in H-1B in-demand industries and occupations.  For more information about this grant opportunity, go to and     


Do any schools in your area have Career Academies or similar program models?  Has your local workforce program had any role in helping high schools implement a Career Academy or similar program model?

National Financial Literacy Month

Survey data from the just published “Financial Capability of Young Adults – A Generational View” study illustrates that millennials have very low levels of financial literacy. Only 18% of millennials, ages 18 to 26, were able to answer 4 or more questions on a basic financial concepts 5-question quiz.

The United States recognizes April as National Financial Literacy Month “to raise public awareness about the importance of financial education in the U.S. and the consequences that may result from a lack of understanding about personal finances.” Government at all levels is called on to join with private organizations and U.S. citizens to support the goals and ideals of Financial Literacy Month with programs and activities.

To celebrate the month the Division of Youth Services is hosting a webinar on April 9, “What’s in Your Piggy Bank? Motivating Young First Trained Workers to Save. ” You can register or view it at a later date by clicking on this link.

Here are some additional resources to help you and the youth in your programs.

?         Financial Literacy Money Workshop - free workshops and tips offered by the National Financial Educators Council

?         Financial Literacy - Money Management International’s microsite features a 30 step path to financial wellness. The site also provides the FLM Toolkit which includes a customizable news release, ebooks, downloadable poster and facts about the importance of financial literacy. Other helpful tools and tips may also be found online throughout Financial Literacy Month by visiting Money Management International on Facebook, @moneymanagement on Twitter, and on MMI’s YouTube channel.

?         Other financial education resources can be found at or call the toll free hotline at 1-800 MyMoney for information on financial literacy topics.


What are you doing with the youth in your program to support National Financial Literacy Month?

We look forward to hearing from you!

This weekend I took my son shopping for new shoes.  We went to a national chain at a large mall in the D.C. area and had an unusually helpful and pleasant clerk wait on us.  Chatting while my son tried on his tenth set of sneakers, this twenty-something shared that she had worked for her employer since she was 16.  Recognizing the length of her service I said, “It must be a good company to work for.” Her reply startled me, “No, not really.  They have started to make us take regular tests where we need to read and answers questions. And I don’t see what that has to do with being on your feet and running up and down ladders all day selling shoes.”

I get what she was saying. Assessments are an increasing part of education and work in our society. When it comes to assessing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors, many test takers may wonder the connection between an assessment and doing the work well. Often in school and employment settings assessments are given without an explanation of how it relates to the task at hand or how it may help the individual. 

Youth service providers use assessments to develop meaningful individual service strategy for the youth served with Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth funds. Sometimes, however, not enough time is given to matching assessments to what is most meaningful to measure; what will help and not hurt the self-esteem of vulnerable youth; and finding assessment validated on the disadvantaged population.

In providing quality youth services, it’s good to reflect once in awhile why a particular assessment is being used, if it is strength based, and if it lines up with the youth’s goals. Is this a practice that your program includes?

What assessment strategies yield the best results for your program?

How do you talk to the youth about assessment results?

Jennifer Kemp, Unit Chief, Youth Policy and Performance, USDOL, Employment and Training Administration

World Metrology Day is celebrated on May 20, the day the Treaty of the Meter, also known as the Metric Convention, was signed in 1875. The 17 signatories of the Convention, including the U.S., agreed to standardize weights and measures. More than 145 years later, many Americans are not fluent in the metric system. Should teaching future workers the metric system be a part of addressing the skills gap?


The National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) emphasizes that being conversant in metric is essential for those seeking careers in science and engineering.  “Developing proficiency in metric measurements will prepare U.S. students to work with cutting-edge technology and develop innovative consumer products of the future.”  Employers such as Proctor & Gamble, Black & Decker, IBM, DuPont, Xerox, Kodak, and General Motors use the metric system (see Metric Pays Off).

Worldwide uniformity of measurement remains important for business process as well as safety.  Without standard measurement, big errors have occurred.  Consider:

?         An Air Canada Boeing 767 jet that ran out of fuel in mid-flight;

?         A 1999 loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter, a robotic space probe launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study Martian climate and weather; and

?         Patients have received incorrect drug dosages.

Many people are unaware of the importance of measurement in our everyday lives. Measurement is an integral part of our high tech world, from GPS and smart phones to medical scanning and video gaming.  Check out the Modern Marvels of Metrology for careers that rely on metrology and more.

To address the skills gap and prepare a future workforce should the emphasis on American units of measurement continue? Do employers in healthcare and manufacturing ask youth service providers if their youth have metric skills?

Further Resources

For a short history of the use of the metric system of measurement in the U.S. see Toward a Metric America.

For teaching materials see Education Resources.

Helping youth become financially literate is an important component to any youth program.  Understanding what it takes to open a checking account, pay bills on time, and even begin saving a little bit at a time is critical to a young person’s future success.


There are several tools which have been developed to help young people gain financial literacy skills.  FDIC’s Money Smart for Young Adults Program, for example, helps youth ages 12-20 learn the basics of handling their money and finances, including how to create positive relationships with financial institutions. Also, The Youth Guide to Budgeting, developed by The Finance Project, provides step-by-step instructions, tips and strategies that youth leaders can use to develop a budget.  Another great example, The Road to Self-Sufficiency, produced by the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, provides new approaches to helping out-of school youth become economically self-sufficient.


For youth who may have already received basic financial literacy training or who are employed, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration has developed a website, Saving Matters, which offers resources, tools and information on saving for the future.  One specific resource that may be beneficial to share with a young worker is the New Employee Savings Tips – Time is on Your Side.  It focuses on tips to make a plan and build savings, and it highlights a Video discussing the importance of getting an early start on saving for the future. 


So share with your peers. Do you talk about money, financial literacy and/or savings with the youth in your programs?


Which financial literacy resources or approaches do you use with young people? How have they worked for the youth in your program

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