RD141 - Review of the G3 Program’s (Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back Program) Alignment to the Virginia Labor Market – March 2023

Executive Summary:

Item 213 D.2. of Chapter 2 of the 2022 Acts of Assembly, Special Session I (the 2022–24 Biennial Budget)(*1) directs the Virginia Office of Education Economics (VOEE) at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to evaluate the skills and training needed for Virginians to fill jobs available in certified regional council areas. The charge asks VOEE to look at a variety of training — high school career and technical education, credentials, certifications, apprenticeships, internships, and other degree and non-degree programs — and make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly on what programs should qualify for financial assistance under Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3). This report serves as that recommendation for 2022. The General Assembly gave VOEE this task as an ongoing responsibility. As a result, this report, based on analysis conducted from July to October 2022, should be viewed as a first look at the G3 program’s alignment to the labor market. VOEE will update and refine the data contained here in future iterations.

The purpose of this review was to conduct a baseline evaluation to estimate the level of alignment between the 91 G3-specific fields of study identified in budget language and their associated occupations in the labor market. As part of creating that assessment, VOEE reviewed a variety of labor market metrics at both the state and regional levels to estimate how G3 programs are positioned to support projected growth in the Virginia economy. Though not exhaustive, the review presented in this study does suggest that G3 funding is strongly aligned to the middle-skilled labor market in the state and with projected growth opportunities through the end of the decade. For example:

• Associate and sub-associate award levels make up the largest portion (79%) of available programs currently eligible for G3 funding (when graduate programs are excluded).

• 85% of G3-aligned occupations require no formal work experience.

• 57% of G3-aligned occupations typically require educational attainment of an associate degree or lower.

• 91% of G3-eligible associate degrees are occupational and career-focused rather than transfer-focused.

• G3-aligned occupations show continuity between the most frequently advertised online job postings and end-of-decade projected job growth.

• The current G3 fields of study represent 32% of occupations in the Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC).

• The 255 G3-eligible occupations range across 18 SOC major groups.

All career clusters within the 17 Career Cluster framework(*2) are represented in the current list of G3-aligned occupations except for the Hospitality and Tourism cluster. The career clusters containing the most G3-aligned occupations include:

1. Information technology

2. Education and training

3. Law, public safety, corrections, and security

4. Manufacturing

5. Business, management, and administration

There is a 43% (109) overlap of occupations that are aligned to both the G3 and FastForward programs.

Three quarters (75%) of G3-aligned occupations have a median wage above the MIT living wage threshold for a household of one, and about half (51%) of G3-aligned occupations offer wages above the living wage threshold for a two-earner household of four. G3-aligned occupations with the strongest wage performance across both living wage scenarios fall within the SOC major groups of management, business and financial operations, and computer and mathematical.

This report presents a selection of the metrics used to conduct the analysis of the labor market alignment of the G3 program. Users interested in further exploration can download a data set with filters based on Virginia worker concentration, median earnings, projected job change, diversity, and living wage at https://voee.org/data.

Recommendations for Consideration

It is VOEE's recommendation that no significant changes be made to the list of approved fields of study for G3 at this time. This recommendation stems from the analysis, presented here, which shows a strong general alignment of the current G3 list to the middle-skilled labor market in the Commonwealth. Additionally, at the time of this analysis, the G3 program has completed only two semesters. VOEE will be able to understand more about how G3 is being used by students when richer enrollment and outcomes data become available. It will also be essential to relate uptake and outcomes to other state programs like the Workforce Credential Grant.

One area where changes to the G3 program may be considered is in using a broader level of definition within the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) taxonomy to specify G3 educational program eligibility within budget language. Currently G3 relies on the six-digit level CIP to qualify program eligibility. Given the closeness of many fields of study aligning to the same occupation, converting to the four-digit series may be a more realistic way to define G3 programming while acknowledging the broader linkages between educational programs and occupations in the labor market.

In summary, the G3 funding program is an important policy initiative for the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a last-dollar financial aid assistance program, G3 exists as one of the many variations of funding assistance programs found in the United States that seek to support students’ access to higher education. This report is intended to contribute to the further analysis and discussion among policy makers and educators regarding how Virginia may best invest and support this important mission for the benefit of its residents and future economic competitiveness.
(*1) “(Chapter 2), Item 213 D" 2022 Special Session I, State Budget, Legislative Information System, Virginia General Assembly, Commonwealth of Virginia, https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/item/2022/2/HB30/Chapter/1/213/.
(*2) “SB 1405 Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program," Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS), 2021, https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?212+sum+SB1405.