Everyone should have tailored access to information to drive student success, economic mobility, and systemic change. Individuals need information to make informed decisions about their journeys through education and into the workforce, the public needs information to support their communities, and policymakers need information to direct public funds in a manner that eases career pathways for individuals. But right now, students, educators, job seekers, employers, and even policymakers do not have access to the information necessary to make this vision a reality. Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDSs) are a critical tool that connect data across the P–20W continuum—early childhood, K–12, postsecondary and workforce—and have the potential to provide clarity about these important decisions, when they are reimagined to provide people with meaningful, timely access to data.
The Biden-Harris administration’s recently released Roadmap to Support Good Jobs outlines an ambitious agenda that aims to “build our workforce by ensuring every American—whether they go to college or not—will have equitable access to high-quality training, education, and services that provide a path to a good career without leaving their community.” Achieving this worthwhile goal requires actionable access to data, as described in DQC’s new vision to transform state data systems.
The administration’s roadmap includes four priorities:
- Connecting people to good jobs;
- Ensuring the United States has the skilled, diverse workforce for transformational investments;
- Boosting education and training efforts so every community can meet its foundational labor needs; and
- Creating good quality, family-sustaining jobs, including union jobs.
Making these priorities a reality will require policymakers to use data to answer questions about the skills needed for the current and future labor market and whether existing talent and training can meet demand, plan for the needs of the labor market and identify what education and training will be needed, and allocate resources toward effective workforce training programs that serve the communities that need them most. Policymakers must also ensure individuals and the public have meaningful access to data to navigate decisions along their own journeys toward a high-quality job and to hold the government accountable for providing access to meaningful pathways into high-quality careers. States must change their data systems to support these data access needs in order to effectively impact workforce outcomes as laid out in the administration’s roadmap.
States need federal support to get this done. Federal leaders can support state efforts to improve their SLDSs in the following ways:
- Clarify and increase the funding available for SLDS modernization and capacity building;
- Expand privacy technical assistance and support;
- Provide guidance on and support for linking and accessing data; and
- Scale best practices and address barriers.
States’ SLDSs are uniquely positioned to provide at scale the information needed to support individuals as they move through education and into high-quality careers. With robust SLDSs in place, the administration’s ambitious goals to support good jobs can be grounded in data.