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Workforce Equity for a Competitive Economy

Inseperable imperatives

Employers who want to expand their businesses and improve productivity often find that job seekers lack the training and skills necessary to make this business growth happen. Workforce trainers and educators want to prepare workers for available jobs, but often lack the forecasting tools to match students with emerging employment opportunities, or the resources to effectively train them for those skilled jobs. Equity advocates want to close racial gaps in educational attainment and employment, but often find that the business community and the educational institutions are not responsive enough to the real work challenges facing low-income people and communities of color.  Read more

Good jobs wanted

Equitable job creation can and should happen through both the public and the private sector; in fact, the two must typically work in concert – with input and oversight from community groups and advocates – to ensure an equitable job creation and economic growth strategy is realized.

Generally speaking, job creation efforts are often lumped into a few broad categories:

• Leveraging existing public spending to stimulate targeting private hiring (e.g., hiring goals on public infrastructure projects)
• Direct public spending for hiring (e.g., employer tax credits, public job programs)
• Public and/or philanthropic spending on entrepreneurship and small business supports in order to stimulate targeted private hiring

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Meeting in the marketplace

A labor market that maximizes economic opportunity is one that engages all workers and reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of its communities.  We know that workplace diversity is good for the bottom line, just as we know that shared labor force participation spreads financial security, buying power, and neighborhood stability throughout all our communities. Research by numerous scholars confirms what many people of color have experienced firsthand: racial bias wherein white candidates are more likely to be hired than equally qualified candidates of color.

How can we ensure employment opportunities are more equitable? How do we foster labor market transactions—hiring, retention, advancement, and the like—that are deliberately more inclusive? We need to look at steps employers can take to infuse equity into workplace culture and practice, examine the potential of industry sector strategies to build labor market pathways for people of color, and highlight the role nonprofits and the public sector can play as marketplace intermediaries between employers and workers of color. Read More


Skills Training: Here, There, Everywhere

Promoting access to “more and better” education and training for people of color is insufficient without also promoting job creation, placement and retention strategies that are intentionally inclusive. There is simply too much bias in the labor market, from multi-million dollar economic subsidy deals to everyday hiring practices, so other strategies are needed to level the playing field ensuring that all job candidates and workers, regardless of race, are equally educated and well trained.  The question becomes not only how to build an education and training system that is more accessible, affordable, and efficient, but how to develop a large-scale workforce delivery system in concert with job creation strategies that offer the greatest promise for shared opportunity and prosperity. Read More

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