Higher education and workforce policy: Creating more skilled workers (and jobs for them to fill)

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Brookings Institution, April 2015

From the summary:
Employment of Americans in middle-wage jobs has been declining, due to trends both in employer demand and worker skill attainment. Workforce development in the US now mostly occurs in community and forprofit colleges, as well as the lower-tier of 4-year colleges. Enrollment rates are high, even among the disadvantaged, but completion rates are very low and earnings are uneven for graduates. Community colleges lack not only resources but also incentives to respond to the job market (while the for-profit colleges need stronger regulation). Sectoral training and career pathway models show promise but need scaling and maintenance of quality, and employers also need greater incentives to participate and create more good jobs. Three sets of policies should help address these problems:
1. Providing more resources to community (and lower-tier 4-year) colleges but also creating incentives and accountability by basing state subsidies on student completion rates and earnings of graduates;
2. Expanding high-quality career and technical education plus work-based learning models like apprenticeship; and
3. Assisting and incentivizing employers to create more good jobs. Other supportive policies—including higher minimum wages, paid parental leave, and labor law reform—would help as well. Together these proposals should create more good jobs and more good workers to fill them.
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