By Christen Pentek
Our economy is shifting in unprecedented ways. As a result, people are seeking training and education to advance their own career and to better align their skills with industries and occupations in demand now.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)  is invested in facilitating equitable access to the training and education community members need to address today’s challenges and prepare for future success. The Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) is required under WIOA and is a resource that can help people make strong educational choices to advance their careers in alignment with Minnesota’s economy. The list is intended to increase informed consumer choice for participants in WIOA Title 1 programs, including the Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs. WIOA and the ETPL are structured to encourage equity and transparency in educational opportunities for people who are taking the next big step in their careers.
The ETPL provides information about programs and courses that lead to credentials and can support career advancement. The purpose of this federally-mandated list is to increase transparency and choice for participants of programs that are part of WIOA, and is primarily a tool used in Title 1 programs.
The ETPL includes information about Minnesota-based post-secondary learning opportunities. This means that it is a resource with information for over three-hundred distinct training providers in the state who offer over a million opportunities for acquiring applied knowledge.
Each training opportunity is a course or program that meets criteria for basic consumer protections, which are clarified in federal law. Some of these eligibility criteria are also governed by state standards for excellence and priority industries within the local economic infrastructure.
There are two main criteria for a training provider to be considered eligible for Minnesota’s ETPL:
- Have a public location in Minnesota, and
- Be licensed, registered, or exempt with the state agency that regulates the industry’s training. Most often this is the Office of Higher Education. However, there are forty-seven unique state agencies that approve trainings for various industries.
There are a few reasons why these two eligibility criteria exist prior to review of specific courses and programs on the ETPL. They include basic consumer protections, federal guidance, and criteria set by the governor to help focus the ETPL on trainings that will lead to a sustainable career.
Minnesota is somewhat unique in that there is state statute requiring career schools to hold licensure with the Office of Higher Education. The OHE statute covers any training provider heavily advertising trainings to Minnesota residents, which is a slightly different pool of training institutions than the ETPL’s criteria. Licensure requirements ensure that schools meet state and industry standards, have faculty with appropriate experience, and advertise accurate information about courses, programs, costs, and admissions. Schools also must document their financial sustainability to follow through with the full training schedule, as well as statutory refund policies. Additionally, licensed schools document their data process for protecting student records (including personal information), and that alumni records will be archived in an accessible way.
DEED makes the ETPL and detailed information on each program publicly available through the Career and Education Explorer . This tool was created so a user can filter for the education opportunity that is most relevant to their goals. Users can search education listings by specific institution, keyword, field of study, training delivery format or anticipated job title. For a deeper evaluation of a program within the list, information about the program, outcomes, and industry information are also provided by clicking on any of the initial program results.
Program information includes a description of the content covered in the program, the award that a student gains upon completion of the program, prerequisites required for program entry, the time commitment to complete the program, credits that may count towards an additional degree, the cost of the program, and the delivery format. Additionally, DEED includes information about the field of study, which places the education opportunity within the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP codes). CIP codes function like the library catalog of fields of knowledge; these codes can provide insight to the types of skills and industries that the training is preparing its learners for.
There are a few designations within the ETPL that have federal definitions. There are designations for the structure of training and for the individual outcome upon completion of the training.
Where to Find ETPL: For Education Explorers, Career Counselors and Training Providers
Education Explorers and Career Counselors: The public listings of current programs and courses for the ETPL can be found on the Career and Education Explorer in the education search at mn.gov/deed/careers . You can use filters to narrow your search to information about trainings that meet your interests.
Training Providers: The forms training providers should use to submit training institution information for review and inclusion on the list can be found in the ETPL Provider Portal at https://apps.deed.state.mn.us/lmi/Etpl/ .
Two types of training structure are included in the ETPL: courses and programs. Courses are part of a larger program and may contribute as a step in an area of learning toward additional employment opportunities. Programs are often built of several courses and usually include an industry-recognized credential.
There are three types of outcomes for trainings. The first is WIOA Certified training, which is training that includes an industry-recognized postsecondary credential. The United States Department of Labor in Section 3(52) of WIOA defines a "recognized postsecondary credential" as "a credential consisting of an industry-recognized certificate or certification, a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship, a license recognized by the State involved or Federal Government, or an associate or baccalaureate degree" ( TEN 25-19 ).
The second designation is non-credentialed training, which is training that is focused in a specific industry but does not result in an industry-recognized credential. There are several ways this training may be essential for the next career step. For example, maintaining a licensure by earning continuing education credits (CEU), exploring a new career option, or taking a test prep course to be ready for an industry certification exam.
Third, there are several types of basic skills that can also be found on Minnesota's ETPL. Basic skills are both for people at the beginning of their career as well as at mid-career. A few different types of training you might see listed as basic skills include OSHA 10, introductory computer skills and app navigation, soft skills, workplace relationships, general management principles, and team building.
There are several ways a learner might engage with the ETPL. These uses include:
In order to provide all this information, DEED links data from the training providers with outcomes information. Some of this information utilizes the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS) . DEED utilizes SLEDS and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (iPEDs) to understand how training provider programs operate generally, so a potential student can investigate the anticipated graduation rate for a program.
DEED also utilizes SLEDS to provide data on long-term program outcomes. Prospective students may be interested in anticipated earnings for completion of a specific credential and DEED is building a tool that will do this. This will allow prospective learners to understand the earning potential of a program.
The ETPL helps to inform customers about their educational choices and provides an awareness of in-demand industries and related education opportunities in Minnesota. DEED and the training providers who are partners on the ETPL populate the list with industries and trainings that are in-demand based on the job forecasts and the interests of our local economy.
DEED has several programs that can support training to change or advance a person's career that utilize the ETPL. Several of these programs are part of WIOA, which is the backbone structure for the ETPL. WIOA programs, accessed through CareerForce, can help people on their career path to family-sustaining work. WIOA criteria for participants have a structure for equity and prioritize groups that may face barriers to access training and quality education. For example, WIOA prioritizes people with low-incomes, people of color, veterans, people living with a disability, people utilizing other social services supports, youth, and people who have lost their jobs as a result of a shift in the economy.
WIOA Title 1 programs include training support, which might be funded through an individual training account. Individual training accounts are similar to scholarships, where the WIOA participant chooses training from the ETPL, and the individual account covers some or all of the cost associated with the training. DEED supports a process in which participants control their own decisions about which trainings, providers and career path works for each individuals' career journey.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the legislation that governs the national workforce system and helps get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers. It also focuses on employer hiring and training needs. The interdepartmental legislation is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor in collaboration with states. In Minnesota, multiple state agencies and offices as well as community organization contribute to the work of WIOA.