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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

ETA Assistant Secretary Seleznow Lauds Competency-based Approaches

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November 18, 2013

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ETA Assistant Secretary Seleznow Lauds Competency-based Approaches

Eric Seleznow, Employment and Training Administration Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provided a few remarks on November 18 at a New America Foundation event titled "A Natural Fit?: Community Colleges and Competency-Based Education." The comments addressed both the topic of competency-based education (CBE) and broader issues and initiatives at the Department.

Seleznow said DOL is trying to zero in on the unemployment rate related to the recent downturn in the economy, particularly with respect to the long-term unemployed. He said that the Department is interested in regional approaches focused on skills training and noted the importance of listening to and including employers related to essential (employability) and occupational skills, which he said are the most important according to business and industry.

The Assistant Secretary discussed competency-based education (CBE) as a good way to address the skills issue and noted that several studies underscore the importance of high school diplomas and basic education for low wage, low skilled workers to move them forward in the economy, a message often cited by the Obama Administration.

According to the Assistant Secretary, DOL would like to propel the CBE approaches and is interested in hearing more about effective strategies. He indicated DOL is using the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants competition as a way to drive some of the CBE work and said there will be one additional TAACCCT grant round at the beginning of 2014. Seleznow indicated that CBE approaches and those which incorporate Community Based Organizations and Workforce Investment Boards will be looked upon favorably.

The Assistant Secretary referenced the sequester in his remarks, noting the impact on the budget of the Department of  Labor and local workforce development centers and  that fewer people are getting skills as a result of those cuts.

New America Foundation leaders noted that, despite the great attention being paid to CBE approaches today, those at community colleges have received little attention, despite its close fit with the more career-focused programs at two-year institutions. 

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