The NOICC/SOICC Network: Policy, Programs, and Partners, 1976-2000

Article excerpt

This historical and reflective account of the National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee's (NOICC) and the State Occupational Information Coordinating Committees' (SOICCs) significant development of a national infrastructure that shaped career development policy, practice, and training from 1976 to 2000 offers key lessons for future development practice and potential in the United States and beyond. The establishment of the NOICC/SOICC network marked a turning point in the systematic development and delivery of standardized occupational information and supporting resources designed to meet the needs of career development, education and training program design, and employer information requirements. NOICC's core occupational information activities and national career development guidelines and programs are discussed. Public policy that supports career information and counseling services is suggested.

Keywords: NOICC/SOICC network, public policy

The National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC) was a federal interagency coordinating committee whose members eventually represented 10 agencies involved in various aspects of the U.S. economy. Member agencies included key offices of five federal departments: Labor: Employment and Training Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Education: National Center for Education Statistics, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Office of Postsecondary Education, and Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs; Commerce: Economic Development Administration; Defense: Office of Force Management and Personnel; and Agriculture: Office of Small Community and Rural Development.

State Occupational Information Coordinating Committees (SOICCs), NOICC's state partners, represented state agencies concerned with job training, vocational and technical education, employment security, vocational rehabilitation, economic development, higher education, and more. Together, NOICC and SOICCs formed an integrated network of developers and users of occupational and labor market information and career development initiatives. Established by Congress in 1976, with subsequent legislative amendments, the NOICC/SOICC network was a unique federal-state partnership that provided a framework for addressing workforce development and career preparation issues and opportunities.

The work of the NOICC/SOICC network was based on the idea that if people were guided on how to make informed choices about education, training, jobs, and careers, this would improve the skills and productivity of the workforce, the match between workers and the needs of the labor market, and the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. This meant making sure people had the skills and information they needed to make informed choices. To accomplish this mission, the NOICC/SOICC network developed and implemented occupational, labor market, career information, and career development systems and programs that could be adapted for use at the state and local level. NOICC provided the leadership, technical assistance, and training to carry out this ambitious agenda. SOICCs developed, adapted, distributed, and encouraged use of the systems and programs in their states.

Training was a vital and fundamental component of all NOICC/SOICC initiatives. NOICC's train-the-trainers workshops and other training programs for SOICCs and members of the broader network crosscut all program areas, including information development, delivery, and use, as well as youth and adult career development. SOICCs conducted state and local train-the-trainers workshops in their states. Several professional associations, including the National Career Development Association (NCDA), were NOICC's partners at many joint conferences and in training programs.

Congress established the NOICC/SOICC network in the Vocational Education Amendments of 1976 and subsequent regulations. …