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Building the American Workforce

A CFR Working Paper

Author: Thomas Hilliard, Senior Fellow, Center for an Urban Future

Building the American Workforce - building-the-american-workforce

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date July 2013

20 pages


There has never been greater urgency for expanding and improving U.S. workforce training programs. To an unprecedented extent, employers now need and expect applicants with "middle skills" qualifications: a level of education and training beyond a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor's degree. But the supply of middle-skilled jobseekers lags behind. The federal government should corral the country's siloed and disjointed workforce-development programs in line with a common national strategy. It can start by developing performance measures as well as data warehouses that link workforce services with employment outcomes. Federal funding, which has been scaled back in recent decades, should be restored. The training programs themselves should also be better targeted at low-income and disadvantaged workers, provide more longer-term services, and engage more directly with employers for stable job placements.

More About This Publication

Thomas Hilliard is the senior fellow in Workforce Development Policy at the Center for an Urban Future. He has analyzed several critically important aspects of workforce policy for the Center, including the economic value of community college completion, barriers to foster youth success in the workforce, and declining support for English-language instruction. His reports have appeared in local and national media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, CNN, WNYC, and NY1. He previously served as senior policy associate at the Albany-based Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, where he launched an initiative to expand postsecondary opportunities for low-income adults. Hilliard has also served as director of health policy to New York City public advocate Mark Green and assistant director of medicine at Gouverneur Healthcare Services, a freestanding clinic on the Lower East Side.

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