Press Release: JFF Experts Contribute to New Book on Transformative Education and Workforce Development Policies and Practice

Published oct. 15, 2015

Transforming U.S. workforce development policies for the 21st century

Boston, MA—(October 15, 2015)—Workers and employers in the United States face new realities and uncertainties. The Great Recession and other disruptive forces have altered the environment for workers, jobseekers, employers, educational institutions, and government alike. Navigating this landscape and providing solutions that create capable workers can be a challenge for workforce development professionals. 

Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century is a new book that presents ideas for transformative education and workforce development policies and practice. It brings together contributions from 65 leading scholars and practitioners with diverse perspectives on how to overhaul and reinvent worker policies and practices.

Maria Flynn, senior vice president of Jobs for the Future contributed a chapter on a regional workforce collaborative called, “Wired65: Driving a Cross-State Regional Manufacturing Strategy.” In it, Flynn examines how key tenants of a “new generation” workforce system such as regional collaboration and sector strategies have evolved in a multicounty labor market region spanning Kentucky and Indiana. Ms. Flynn examines the role of the local workforce investment boards have played in driving this work, the systems change that have resulted from this work, and examples of strong employer engagement and partnership. She also discusses the region’s experience aligning pubic and private resources to build a demand-driven system through their participation in the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED initiative and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

Jobs for the Future workforce development experts Geri Scott, director, Deborah Kobes, associate director, and Alexandra Waugh, senior program manager, contributed to the chapter “Pink to Green: Promising Workforce Development Practices for Women in Nontraditional Occupations.” In it, the authors outline the need to expand access for women into manufacturing, construction, and other male-dominated fields, and explore customized technical assistance strategies to help workforce training providers better connect women to these occupations. The lessons provided in the chapter were drawn from JFF’s seven-city GreenWays initiative funded by the Department of Labor.

Tara Smith, Jobs for the Future senior program manager, contributed to the chapter, “Two-Generation strategies for Expanding the Middle Class.” In it, Smith examines the lingering impact of the Great Recession in the U.S. and Europe, documenting links between educational attainment and unemployment, the rising numbers of disconnected youth, and the consequences of economic insecurity. Ms. Smith then makes a case for two-generation strategies—policy and program approaches that can expand the middle class by helping families earn economic and related benefits from investments in education and training. The chapter presents a conceptual framework and details core components of two-generation approaches before highlighting two-generation program examples in the U.S. and Ireland. The chapter concludes with a set of recommendations to improve services for families through increased coordination and collaboration across systems.  

Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century contains chapters and case studies that explore the current and future state of the labor market as well as workforce development and education strategies designed to improve opportunities for jobseekers, students, and workers. In addition, chapters and case studies focus on addressing the difficulties experienced by the long-term unemployed, those with limited formal education, senior and youth workers, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. 

The Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Kansas City collaborated with Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development to create this important resource. To learn more or download a free copy, visit