“Nothing is more important to our economic future than matching worker skills to employer needs.” –Ellen S. Alberding, President, Joyce Foundation.
Communities in the Midwest are undergoing wrenching transitions from largely industrial economies structured around manufacturing to more diversified economies that promise new growth and new jobs. However, too many adults in the Midwest lack the skills and credentials to compete for jobs with high wages and benefits. A postsecondary credential is becoming the gateway to stable employment and advancement opportunities.
The Joyce Foundation in 2007 launched Shifting Gears ― a multi-year, multi-million dollar state policy initiative to promote regional economic growth by improving the education and skills training of the workforce in six Midwestern states ― Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The initiative is helping these states implement systemic changes to institutionalize innovation in adult education, workforce development and postsecondary education programs. The states are strengthening the connections between the various programs to create pathways to college and career success for low-income working adults.
Three states ― Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin ― received implementation grants in February 2007. Minnesota and Ohio initially received planning grants and then received implementation grants in July 2008. Michigan joined the initiative in July 2009 with an implementation grant.
Each state has a team composed of officials representing workforce development, adult education and community colleges. In addition, employers, advocates for low-income individuals and local workforce and education practitioners are part of the effort to advance new policies. These teams support local innovation and policy change within their states, while learning from the experiences of other states in the region.
Read more about the initiative in the Shifting Gears brochure.
Marcie W.M. Foster
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
CLASP develops and advocates at the federal, state and local levels for policies that improve the lives of low-income individuals. CLASP is the lead technical assistance provider to Shifting Gears states. www.clasp.org
Workforce Strategy Center (WSC)
WSC works to grow the economy by producing a prosperous and globally competitive workforce. WSC also provides technical assistance to Shifting Gears states. www.workforcestrategy.org
Brandon Roberts + Associates
Brandon Roberts manages the evaluation of the Shifting Gears initiative, with assistance from Dr. Derek Price. www.brandonrobertsassociates.com