Advance Vermont is developing a web portal to provide Vermonters with the information, guidance, and assistance they need to identify and access valuable educational opportunities that will advance their careers, employable skills, income stability, and job readiness. The goal of this resource is to ensure that Vermonters achieve their maximum career potential and contribute to the strength of Vermont’s economy and communities. The portal will increase the number of people in Vermont who aspire to, access, afford, and attain valuable postsecondary learning opportunities and credentials. The online resource will launch in early 2021.
Why a portal?
Identifying, evaluating, and accessing education and training programs can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming.
There are many print and online resources available to Vermonters including information, tools, support services, and financial aid. But those resources are not always easy to find, and it is not always clear how to access what is available or who to turn to for support. This is a particular challenge among low-income and historically disadvantaged populations. According to Advance Vermont research, today’s students are juggling life, work, and education responsibilities like never before. Ninety percent of Vermont students currently or recently enrolled in post-high school education and training report an online resource like FRV would have been helpful as they sought to advance their job skills.
Public Viewpoint: COVID-19 Work and Education Survey. Strada Education Network. April 1-2, 2020.
COVID-19 has grown the need for FRV. An unsettled economy will have long-lasting impacts on the careers of so many Vermonters. Demand for a skilled workforce will grow in the wake of the pandemic as it did after the Great Recession—99% of jobs created in the economic recovery went to those with at least some college education. That is trend is bearing out in public perception today. Nationally, 1 in 3 workers believe that if they lose their jobs due to the current crisis, they will need more education to find comparable positions.
The Future Ready Vermont portal will offer a sustainable, accessible, online “one stop shopping” resource that will bring visibility to new and existing resources for Vermont workers, showcase the diversity and accessibility of the broad range of career and education pathways in Vermont, and boost public awareness of the state’s high-demand, high-wage jobs and priority sectors.
Advance Vermont is engaging with the portal target audience and stakeholders to inform portal content and design. Our efforts to date indicate that it should include information and resources regarding:
- The value of postsecondary credentials and career training
- The diversity of career and education pathways available (apprenticeships, degrees, industry recognized credentials, certificates, etc.)
- Information on Vermont’s high-demand, high-wage careers, including profiles of Vermonters in these fields
- Where to obtain education and training for these careers in Vermont
- How to pay for education and training programs
- Links to tools, guides, support services, and job boards
The goals of the portal are two-fold:
1. Create a user-friendly, web-based resource for the public and navigators that:
- Serves as a one-stop shop for those seeking postsecondary education, training, or employment in Vermont- regardless of experience, knowledge, language level, or ability
- Increases awareness of Vermont’s high-demand, high-wage jobs and priority sectors
- Increases awareness of Vermont’s education and training programs
- Increases awareness of high-value opportunities for accelerated learning and training, such as credit for prior learning, Dual Enrollment, Early College, Fast Forward, Strengthening Working Families Initiative and credit-bearing apprenticeships.
- Grows visibility for the programs, services, guides, financial supports, and other resources designed to support those looking for postsecondary education, training, or employment
2. Advance systems-level change by:
- Growing awareness of the importance of education after high school and the diversity of postsecondary options
- Demystifying and destigmatizing postsecondary pathways, particularly non-degree pathways
- Making access to opportunities, information, and supports for education, training, and employment more equitable
- Strengthening the connections between education, training, and employment
The portal will reach a statewide audience of job seekers, prospective students of any age, “navigators” such as service providers, career counselors, employers, and influential family members such as parents or spouses. It is being designed to meet the needs of low-income Vermonters, first-generation students, and historically marginalized Vermonters.
The voice of prospective FRV portal end users is front and center throughout the development, refinement, and evaluation of the portal. Surveys, focus groups, design methodology, and ongoing partner engagement strategies are all geared toward securing and acting on the input of the audience the portal is intended to reach and assist.
A statewide, cross-sector project steering committee has been launched to advise in the development of the portal. Advance Vermont is working closely with key knowledge partners like the J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, the Vermont Department of Labor, and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, to ensure that the Future Ready Vermont portal will integrate their best thinking and existing materials, and avoid duplicating efforts. We are working closely with the McClure Foundation to incorporate and expand on their “Pathways to Promising Careers” initiative, which compiles lists of the highest-paying, highest-demand jobs in Vermont and highlights some of the local education and training opportunities that lead to them.
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Interested in learning more?
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We’re always looking to help make connections and support innovative projects.