Virginia's Workforce System Report Card
Assessing Workforce Quality
Virginia Performs tracks the quality of Virginia's workforce at a national level, comparing it as a whole to other states on a number of high-level measures in education, productivity, salaries and wages, etc. By contrast, the Workforce System Report Card is designed to track a wealth of Virginia-specific efforts across multiple agencies to educate and train its workers and to create strategies for developing that workforce most advantageously.
The Commonwealth's workforce development system is multi-layered and involves many partners, including secondary and postsecondary institutions, private and public sector workforce groups, community organizations and human services providers, not to mention the large investments most firms make in internal worker training. Measuring the performance of such a complex system presents a significant challenge.
Virginia's Workforce System Report Card is a flexible tool for assessing that performance. Now in its fourth iteration, the card has evolved since its debut in 2012 to reflect new understandings of workforce issues and priorities, as well as valuable input from state leadership and the private sector.
With its goals for increasing postsecondary education and workforce credentials, aligning education with the needs of businesses, and diversifying the economy, Governor McAuliffe's New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative (pdf), announced in August 2014, further underscores the Workforce System Report Card's overall intent.
View a hi-res print version of this Report Card: print PDF
Workforce System Report Card Goals
The report card outlines six broad goals for Virginia's workforce:
- Produce 50,000 STEM-H workforce credentials with the skills employers need
- Become the top state in the US by 2030 for workforce credential and degree attainment
- Increase student readiness for postsecondary education and the workplace
- Focus on and be responsive to the talent needs of Virginia's employers
- Create pathways to employment for all Virginians
- Reengineer Virginia's Workforce System to drive towards common outcome measures
How Is Virginia Doing?
Industry certifications awarded to Virginia high school students continued to rise significantly in 2015; since we started to track them in 2010, close to an additional 65,000 certifications have been awarded. In contrast, other workforce credentials such as licenses, apprenticeships, and academic certificates continued to remain mostly flat. Industry certifications in STEM-H, like their general workforce counterpart, are the largest contributor to progress in meeting the Governor's 50,000 STEM-H workforce credentials target.
Postsecondary educational attainment -- bachelor's and associate's degrees earned -- have begun to flatten and even worsen. This echoes a recent trend in postsecondary education generally, with escalating costs for the typical student now regarded as a contributing factor to this decline. However, the number of STEM-H bachelor's degrees awarded have improved in recent years.
The percentage of test takers getting an Advanced Pass on Algebra I and II Standards of Learning (SOL) tests continued to show improvement in 2015, as did SOL Writing advanced pass rates. However, SOL Reading advanced pass rates declined.
In the new Special Population section, the unemployment rate of veterans in Virginia is at a new low of 3.2 percent for 2015 -- and the lowest it's been since 2008 (3.4%). Additionally, after a major performance drop due to changes in the test, the percentage of Virginians earning a GED is starting to show signs of improvement.
Changes to the 2016 Report Card
The latest edition has been updated to reflect the evolving landscape of workforce development in Virginia. Much of the data available in previous versions of the report card remains in support of new, re-contextualized indicators. New data has been added as well. Below is a summary of the most important changes to the report card.
- The STEM-H Credentials to Compete section captures, by credential type, progress towards the Governor's goal to produce 50,000 STEM-H workforce credentials over the course of his administration. Data on STEM-H degrees from the previous STEM-H Pipeline section is still available on our interactive dashboard.
- Credentials and Degrees includes new data for licenses. Data on industry certifications, registered apprenticeships, and postsecondary academic certificates now serves in support of a new indicator on workforce credentials. Additionally, this section includes two new standalone indicators on associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees, which were previously tracked under postsecondary credentials and degrees.
- Several standalone metrics in College and Career Readiness have been merged to support broader metrics important to the quality of Virginia's workforce, which include: Math Skills (Algebra I and Algebra II Advanced Pass rates on the Standards of Learning assessments); College Preparation (Advanced Placement Exam participation and Dual Enrollment Credits earned); and Employability Skills (Career Readiness Certificates and Workplace Readiness Skills Certificates). New data on end-of-course advanced pass rates on the Standards of Learning Reading and Writing assessments support an indicator on Communication Skills.
- Certain measures that had been tracked in the Manufacturing and Health Care and Life Science sections have been shifted to the Employer Focused section. Employment Growth has been renamed Job Creation.
- Special Populations -- a completely new section in the 2016 report card -- recognizes that workforce programs are often targeted to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities, veterans, adult high school learners, low-income individuals, and opportunity youth (young people aged 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market).
- A method for tracking real-time supply and demand for jobs.
- A new report card indicator, Demand-Focused Workforce Solutions, to capture regional progress in developing sustainable, collaborative approaches to workforce development for in-demand occupations in a key industry sector. You may get detailed information about this specific project on our page on Demand-Focused Workforce Solutions.
- Virginia has made a commitment to develop common performance measures that extend beyond the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for its 24 workforce programs.