In Community Development and Policy Studies (CDPS) field work throughout the Seventh District, CDPS contacts – in varying contexts – have voiced concerns about conditions impacting low- and moderate-income (LMI) populations and communities. CDPS conducts regular surveys of people representing organizations that serve LMI communities in varying ways. Our survey respondents represent organizations in the fields of: real estate development; finance; financial counseling; economic development; banking; consumer advocacy; small business development; philanthropy; law; higher education; agriculture; manufacturing; and human services. This blog is a summary of responses from the latest CDPS survey.
It is important that a wide array of institutions is helping people build the skills that are needed in the workforce, because most contacts noted that this continues to be an issue in their respective markets. Contacts noted that this issue could arise from a variety of circumstances including: (1) a dearth of students choosing science-based subjects in school; (2) lack of basic writing skills; and (3) too many students without a high school diploma. While community colleges cannot directly address all of these issues, according to almost all contacts, they are stepping in to tailor curricula to align with critical jobs skills in demand by (local) employers address these issues by: (1) identifying high demand local/regional employer skills; (2) focusing on developing critical thinking skills and improving communication skills; and (3) collaborating with other organizations. One example of collaborating with other organizations would be Milwaukee’s Green Skill Project that wrapped up this summer. It brought together industries, a technical college, community-based organizations as well as public and private funders. The program also partnered with Jobs for the Future to win a U.S. Department of Labor Green Jobs Innovation grant award.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is engaged in the workforce development discussion and is hosting a conference, Future Focus: Preparing for Workforce 2020, on February 19, 2015. The conference will be held in conjunction with The Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University. The one-day conference is designed to promote cross functional collaboration to support decision-makers and practitioners in identifying and implementing future-focused workforce development strategies. Attendees will learn more about the latest research and information on workforce trends, policies and practices. Please look for registration on ChicagoFed.org in January 2015.