University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Boosting the employment and productivity of American workers

This issue of Fast Focus introduces an award-winning proposal by Harry J. Holzer that takes on the challenge of connecting less-educated and less-skilled unemployed Americans to education and training programs, and ultimately to employers that need more-specialized workers. He shows that there are good-paying jobs that do not require a four-year college degree, but not enough skilled workers to fill them. His plan is to create more effective education and training systems to improve workers’ success and connect employers to the skilled workforce they need in the global labor market. This would be done through competitive grants from the federal government to states that expand proven training programs for the disadvantaged and, more generally, encourage education and workforce institutions to align themselves more closely with growing sectors that provide good-paying jobs. Evidence suggests that such grants could generate benefits that far outweigh their costs, including lower unemployment rates and higher earnings among the disadvantaged. Holzer presented his proposal at a forum hosted by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution on November 30, 2011, on training programs geared toward the needs of today’s workforce. Holzer received the Hamilton Project’s 2011 Policy Innovation Prize for the best proposal to create jobs and enhance productivity. The broader proposal appears in Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States, The Hamilton Project, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.


Education & Training, Employment, Job Training, Labor Market, Low-Wage Work, Unemployment/Nonemployment