The Opportunity and the Challenge – An Outdated Skills System Badly in Need of Renewal

Today, 23 million working-age Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or discouraged from seeking work. Over six million young people, age 16-24, are not school or work, unable to reach even the first rung of career opportunity.

While new job growth is essential, job creation alone will not solve the growing talent mismatch. Flaws in the U.S. skills system undermine the path to prosperity for many Americans. The current system is burdened with excessive costs, low degree completion rates, and frequent mismatch with employer needs. It fails to provide robust information to students and workers, and frequently creates misaligned incentives for individuals, employers, and education institutions.

To tackle these big challenges, Hope Street Group has tapped a diverse group of leaders, including employers, education institutions, civic and youth organizations, labor unions, philanthropic foundations, technology entrepreneurs, and experienced policymakers to not just talk about the problems we face, but to do something about them.

Hope Street Group's Jobs Program

Hope Street Group's Jobs program focuses on fostering and elevating promising solutions that provide Americans with a marketplace of high-quality resources and information to maximize individual career potential and enhance broad economic prosperity.

This goal can be achieved when a wide variety of stakeholders collaborate through the Hope Street Group network to create and enhance a seamless "Learning to Work Continuum" (L2WC) that supports all Americans in cultivating skills and experiences of economic value, and in finding meaningful work in our rapidly evolving world. 

Partnerships and Projects

Hope Street Group partners with foundations, employers, nonprofits, and other organizations interested in maximizing individual career potential on a select set of initiatives, which are designed to achieve the following:

1. Provide new insights into jobs and workforce reform by collecting and framing the perspectives of stakeholders, including job seekers, employers, educational institutions, and policymakers

2. Elevate promising ideas and solutions that offer more Americans a pathway to economic prosperity

We maintain a strong working relationship with our network of partners, who trust Hope Street Group as a neutral third party that can bring together people from diverse backgrounds to focus on the issues that matter most.

Jobs Policy Initiatives

Hope Street Group additionally works on collaborative policy initiatives that are structured to challenge participants to think above and beyond the status quo, and, in doing so, to move the U.S. toward a 21st century American Skills System. In late 2012, we assembled a Bipartisan Working Group (BWG) of 40 cross-sector leaders and innovators from across partisan lines. The result of this BWG was a five-pillared vision for the mutually reinforcing elements of a New American Skills System: 

1. Standards: Industry-defined skills standards, assessments and certifications are widely used by employers and educators alike.

2. Pathways: Fosters work-centered learning and alignment between educational pathways and the workforce.

3. Information: Empowers individuals and institutions with much better information about jobs, skills, and training opportunities.

4. Incentives: Funds diverse education and training programs based on work-relevant skill development.

5. Shared Goals: Promotes shared goals between economic development, education and workforce development.

This framework has helped to create new partnerships with a vast array of stakeholders, including large and small employers, training and postsecondary education institutions, civic and youth organizations, labor unions, philanthropic foundations, technology entrepreneurs, and experienced policymakers.

We have also engaged in extended dialogue with members of the Administration, including representatives from the National Economic Council, the Departments of Labor and Commerce, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A recent example of this work is a working session we hosted in Washington, DC in December 2013, which focused on the potential for creating a more demand-driven workforce system in the U.S. Participants of the meeting, "Envisioning a Demand-Driven Training System," included 17 business executives and eight senior government officials, including Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and then-Director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling. Together, business leaders such as Alan May, Chief HR Officer at Boeing, and John Donleavy, COO of the National Grid, were able to develop a set of tactical ideas for the Administration on how to accelerate movement toward an improved workforce training system, utilizing policy, program, and practice.

Our policy initiatives and the relationships they have helped form will be crucial as we move forward with our Jobs work in Washington, DC and around the nation.

If you are interested in learning more about Hope Street Group and the Jobs initiative or wish to share your thoughts and ideas on tackling these challenges, please click here.

Jobs Blog

Posted by Sruti Balakrishnan on 07.30.14

Most Americans will agree that the youth unemployment rate—currently over 16% for 16-to-24-year-olds, not including underemployment—is unacceptably high.

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Missing Makers Report

The Hope Street Group Jobs team released its latest report, 
Missing Makers: How to Rebuild America’s Manufacturing Workforce, this past July. 
Created in partnership with Alcoa Foundation and authored by our Deputy Director of Jobs Initiatives, Sruti Balakrishnan, the report holistically frames the challenges faced by educators, employers, and youth in transitioning young people to skilled careers in manufacturing. 

The paper offers tactical recommendations for employers on addressing these challenges in their regions and outlines findings that have resonated strongly with a number of readers familiar with this issue, including representative from manufacturing firms of all sizes, educational institutions, and nonprofits. 

Hope Street Group is currently exploring partnerships with major manufacturing organizations that would continue to bring attention to the report’s findings and encourage implementation of its recommendations