Workforce Development Policy: Economic Mobility and the Future of Work

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 2:00 - 5:00 pm SRH 3.212


Taught by Carey O'Connor.

Less than 45% of the U.S. population has any formal education beyond high school but almost 65% of all jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential. This gap means millions of jobs remain unfilled and, worse, millions of Americans are unable to find work. Without the right education, many Americans are locked into poverty and out of economic mobility. What is the government’s role in addressing this mismatch? Local governments currently offer free education from kindergarten through high school. Should government also offer free post-secondary education (free college) or training? Are there changes that can be made to K-12 education to make high school graduates more employable in today’s economy? What interventions are needed to help working adults obtain the education they need to advance in their careers? What about job quality and livable wages? These are the types of questions that form the foundation of workforce policy, an inter-disciplinary area of public policy that sits at the intersection of education and the labor market. Its purpose is to foster economic growth and reduce poverty by aligning the skills of a local workforce with the evolving needs of nearby industries. It includes public policies related to K-12 and post-secondary education, job specific training, and adult education, and it connects with societal challenges related to economic mobility, the future of work, immigration, and incarceration. This course will introduce students to the dynamic field of workforce development policy. Students will build a foundational understanding of the current workforce preparation ecosystem including today’s key players, programs, funding streams, and policy questions. They will also learn how to critically evaluate workforce programming by examining successful and unsuccessful efforts over time. Classes will be taught using experiential learning – we will use real world situations and discussions with visiting practitioners to interactively learn together. The course will be taught by a former Fortune 500 C-suite business executive and social impact entrepreneur, who has been building workforce programs for over 30 years. She has a proven track record of helping companies and communities build competitive, diverse workforce pipelines at the local, state, national, and international levels.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

No materials required