Am. Samoa Should Align Education With Workforce Needs: Task Force

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Private sector needs, expectations should drive reform

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 26, 2014) – The Economic Development Implementation Plan (EDIP), prepared by the government’s 16-member task force, calls for Workforce Development that can help boost local economic growth for the territory.

According to the task force, Workforce Development should align education institutions and workforce training efforts with the private business sector to elevate the importance of post-secondary education or workforce certification in order to achieve the "New Minimum" —which is the national baseline that states and territories should consider as they allow residents to gain access to the middle class and beyond.

Further, we should be developing specific goals and actions to achieve stronger results that connect K-12, career technology, workforce training programs, and higher education with private sector expectations. Additionally, recommendations are made to integrate and use education and workforce data to answer key policy questions and establish policy and budget priorities of the Territory.

It also says the Workforce Development should identify and promote effective regional or local partnerships to connect education, training programs, and high-wage and high-demand careers within key industries.

The EDIP recommends that the governor articulate a vision to connect the education institutions with the needs of the American Samoa economy; and develop a workforce development plan task force with Commerce Department, ASCC, Education Department, Human Resources Department, and the private sector to identify specific goals and actions to achieve stronger results in achieving the ‘new minimum.

Also recommended is to identify new or improved initiatives that support more precise alignment of DOE and workforce training systems with the needs of the private sector— with career and college readiness as a leading principle.

The task force suggested several actions to achieve these goals. Among them is: use data to inform policy, track progress, and measure success. Additionally, identify key policy and budget questions to improve the alignment between the education pipeline and workforce needs.

It also suggests coordinating the strategic planning process that integrates the mission of key state agencies: education, workforce training and economic development; and bringing together leaders from industry and education to agree on standards (e.g. more rigorous/relevant K-12 standards), competencies, and a system of quality credentials tied to emerging high-wage, high-demand careers.

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