The Federal Reserve System has released Investing in America’s Workforce: Report on Workforce Development Needs and Opportunities, a report that analyzes information gathered from nearly 1,000 leaders who work at the intersection of workforce training, recruitment, and finance. The study provides a current snapshot of the workforce development sector and its key challenges and offers strategies for improving the human capital of America’s labor force, expanding access to jobs, and innovating workforce development funding.
During listening sessions held in 2017, leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors identified key labor market challenges facing workers and employers. These include a skills gap between what employers demand and job seekers possess, nonskills barriers to employment such as lack of transportation and drug addiction, and technological advances and automation that contribute to job loss and changes in employer demands.
The leaders, who participated across 32 states and Puerto Rico, identified strategies to expand the pipeline of skilled workers and connect them with employers, including calling for an increase in apprenticeships and work-based training programs. They also suggested increasing investment into several areas such as community colleges or institutions that offer career technical training. In addition, they outlined strategies for making workforce development opportunities more investable, such as using private sector leverage strategies to augment public dollars.
Insights from the listening sessions suggest that these challenges cannot be solved by the public or nonprofit sector alone but through partnerships. The sessions also argue that a paradigm shift is needed so that those across the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors start thinking like investors who look at long-term outcomes rather than lenders who hedge short-term risks.
“Creating the economic conditions that make it so employers can find skilled workers and workers can find stable jobs is extremely important to the Fed,” said Patrick Harker, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. “It is our hope that this research advances the conversation around workforce development issues and highlights the importance of thinking of investments into our workforce as investments into the health of the U.S. economy.”
President Harker shared the findings at the Investing in America’s Workforce conference held on October 4–6 in Austin, TX. The study and conference are part of the Fed’s Investing in America’s Workforce initiative, which seeks to re-envision workforce development as an investment in our national economy — not as social services. Promoting maximum employment is a core mission of the Federal Reserve System.