Making Education and Employment Work for High School Students

Making Education and Employment Work for High School Students. Urban Institute. Molly M. Scott, Jessica Shakesprere, Kristen Porter. June 18, 2020

Teens often feel compelled take on adult economic responsibilities when their families struggle to make ends meet. Our schools can make it incredibly difficult for young people to balance these responsibilities and stay on track to graduate. This toolkit provides practical recommendations for school systems, as well as state and federal policymakers, on how to identify young people before they fall behind; make mainstream educational systems more flexible and supportive; better align career and technical education (CTE) with paid work opportunities; and improve access to employment. These reforms are fundamentally an issue of equity, but they can also make education and employment more humane for all students. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 37 pages].

Life After Coronavirus: Strengthening Labor Markets Through Active Policy

Life After Coronavirus: Strengthening Labor Markets Through Active Policy. Brookings Institution. Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Martín Montané, and Luca Sartorio. April 20, 2020

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the growing consensus was that the central challenge to achieving inclusive economic prosperity was the creation of good jobs that bring more workers closer to a true “middle-class” lifestyle (Rodrik, 2019). This simple goal will be hard to meet. The lingering effects of the coronavirus crisis will add to the structural changes that were already shifting labor demand and skill content of traditional occupations—exposing workers to displacement, income cuts, or inactivity. This crisis will have persistent effects on economic activity, as the affected, mostly labor-intensive sectors, will need months to come back to speed—if those sectors recover at all. To meet this uphill challenge, it is essential to understand what works in terms of off-the-shelf labor market policies and to learn how to calibrate them to the particular time and space context faced by individual countries and regions—and, last but not least, to put fiscal resources to work to that end. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs: Background on Data and Methodology

A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs: Background on Data and Methodology. Brookings Institution. Marcela Escobari and Ian Seyal. February 25, 2020

This visualization, A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs, intends to show that tailored data can help cities drive dynamic growth that also creates opportunity for the local workforce. The methods underlying our analysis are designed to accommodate a wide range of regional needs and goals. However, these insights and strategies are not meant to be prescriptive. Rather, they present a set of options to inform regional development based on different priorities and tailored to the strengths of each city. Local contexts and priorities are crucial to meaningful interpretations of the data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format].

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers. Brookings Institution. James Bessen et al. January 14, 2020.

Advancing technologies are increasingly able to fully or partially automate job tasks. These technologies range from robotics to machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence, and are being adopted across many sectors of the economy. Applications range from selecting job applicants for interviewing, picking orders in a warehouse, interpreting X-rays to diagnose disease, and automated customer service. These developments have raised concern that workers are being displaced by advancing automation technology. Indeed, over 18 recent studies predict job losses from new automation technologies, including some predictions of massive job losses (Winick 2018). A large literature on worker displacement suggests that the effects of such developments could be dire: individual workers subject to plant closings and mass layoffs experience reduced employment probabilities and wage reductions, leading to long-term earnings losses, as well as reductions in consumption and worse health outcomes. Concerns about these effects of automation have led some commentators to call for policies to directly combat mass unemployment, such as a Universal Basic Income.

But is this right? At a time when many firms are investing in automation, the unemployment rate is at historic lows. Low unemployment might seem hard to reconcile with apocalyptic predictions about mass unemployment. This paper reviews the evidence from recent studies and reports on a new paper we have written, “Automatic Reaction: What happens to workers at firms that automate” (Bessen et al. 2019). This paper is the first to take a look at what actually happens to those workers. We build on some of the findings in order to draw the implications for policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship

Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship. Urban Institute. Ervin Dimeny et al. November 19, 2019

The apprenticeship movement is reshaping skills, policies, and programs in the United States at a critical moment in our country’s history. This reader offers a chorus of voices emanating from different countries and populations, echoing commitment to bright, sustainable workforce futures through a well-crafted approach to this talent development model. The collected chapters and vignettes address questions for businesses of all sizes, community-based organizations, and schools looking for a way to build strong pipelines of skilled labor, stimulate economies in struggling regions, provide options for adults seeking career changes, and stimulate engagement for students filled with curiosity about the promise of work-based learning. We endeavored to shatter myths, remove barriers, and erase fears of attempting apprenticeship, particularly for small and medium-size businesses and parents who are naturally concerned about meaningful and gainful career choices for their children. This reader intends to show the possibilities modern apprenticeship affords contemporary societies and to inspire many to reframe the boundaries of traditional thinking. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 301 pages].

Training for Jobs of the Future: Improving Access, Certifying Skills, and Expanding Apprenticeship

Training for Jobs of the Future: Improving Access, Certifying Skills, and Expanding Apprenticeship. Urban Institute. Robert I. Lerman, Pamela J. Loprest, Daniel Kuehn. October 3, 2019

Long run labor market trends in the American economy pose significant challenges. Growth in real money wages has been slow, with the most rapid gains taking place among workers at the top of the earnings distribution. Labor force participation and employment rates have been falling. Reduced labor force participation and obsolescence of workers’ skills weigh down GDP growth, with predictable negative repercussions for living standards and federal revenue. These trends suggest a need for a major revamping of policies and programs that prepare people for careers and retrain people who must change careers. The authors focus on three major policy initiatives to maximize worker training to bolster productivity and wages: Improve access to in-demand training; strengthen connections between career and technical education and training and employer needs; and build a robust apprenticeship system that emphasizes learning by doing in a context that involves apprentice contributions to production, and culminates in a respected occupational credential. This new system goes beyond the “academic-only” approach commonly pursued in the US and should match individual interests, aptitudes, and skills to in-demand jobs and make new training investments that are cost effective and valued by employers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 41 pages].

Parents’ Access to Work-Family Supports

Parents’ Access to Work-Family Supports. Urban Institute. Shirley Adelstein, H. Elizabeth Peters. October 11, 2019

Three work-family supports—paid leave, workplace flexibility and control, and support for child care—are crucial to the ability of parents to effectively manage work and family. This research used national survey data to examine patterns in working parents’ access to these supports; variations in access by parental characteristics like socioeconomic advantage; and the need for these work-family supports among working parents.Three work-family supports—paid leave, workplace flexibility and control, and support for child care—are crucial to the ability of parents to effectively manage work and family. This research used national survey data to examine patterns in working parents’ access to these supports; variations in access by parental characteristics like socioeconomic advantage; and the need for these work-family supports among working parents. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 43 pages].

Helping Public Housing Residents Find Jobs and Build Careers

Helping Public Housing Residents Find Jobs and Build Careers: Evaluation Findings from New York City’s Jobs-Plus Expansion. Urban Institute. Josh Leopold et al. September 6, 2019

Since 2009, New York City has implemented the Jobs-Plus program to increase employment and earnings public housing residents. The program is modeled after a successful federal demonstration from the 1990s that combines employment services, financial incentives, and community supports to promote work. The Urban Institute evaluation of the program combined interviews and focus groups with staff and participants with analysis of data on Jobs-Plus participation, public housing residency, and quarterly earnings before and after implementation. We concluded that the program provided personal, culturally competent employment services and cultivate a network of employers interested in hiring Jobs-Plus participants. Among participants, Jobs-Plus increased employment by 12 percentage points and quarterly earnings by $497. Our evaluation found mixed evidence that the program slightly improved employment rates for residents of the targeted developments and found no evidence that it improved earnings. We attribute this lack of impact primarily to two factors. First, the Jobs-Plus providers might not have assisted a high enough proportion of residents to change overall trends within the developments. Second, our evaluation could not capture the program’s impact on the many participants who lived in the targeted developments but were not officially listed on the lease and were thus not included in our data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 97 pages].

The Intersection of Low-Wage Work and Public Assistance: Workers’ Experiences in Minnesota

The Intersection of Low-Wage Work and Public Assistance: Workers’ Experiences in Minnesota. Urban Institute. Amelia Coffey, Heather Hahn, Yuju Park. July 18, 2019

This is a qualitative study of low-wage workers in two Minnesota communities who recently experienced either voluntary or involuntary job separation. The study confronts a false dichotomy that people are either working or on public assistance. The study analyzes workers’ experiences in low-wage, unstable jobs, reasons for separating from jobs, and the roles public assistance and other supports play in their lives. The study offers key insights from workers themselves on how jobs and assistance programs may be improved to help them achieve greater stability and economic security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 56 pages].

Making the Business Case for Employee Well-Being

Making the Business Case for Employee Well-Being. Urban Institute. Molly M. Scott, Natalie Spievack. June 13, 2019

Businesses are beginning to move beyond traditional health insurance and retirement plans to improve employee well-being in multiple domains. The programs they offer are typically voluntary and can include financial well-being, paying for educational expenses, and on-site resource navigators who help employees address a wide range of issues. These innovative well-being benefits have the potential to make employees more engaged, less likely to miss work and make mistakes, and more inclined to protect their employers from waste or fraud. Some business case studies show that businesses with happy, healthy, and stable employees can be more profitable than their competitors. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 19 pages].