past event
Workforce Development

Reskilling America: Career and Technical Education in the Twenty-First Century

Audio (MP3)

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About the Event

We often hear that good jobs require college. For many, however, the road to a college degree presents more challenges than opportunities. The costs of a four-year degree have soared, often leaving students with crippling debt, whether or not they are able to complete their degrees. At the same time, not as many jobs require a four-year degree as we once thought, meaning many students face the same low-wage job opportunities they faced before. We need another approach.

This event highlights a book by Dr. Katherine Newman and Hella Winston, Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century. In it they argue that by committing to a targeted investment in vocational training institutions, we can provide opportunities for individuals to develop skills, access middle skill jobs, avoid crippling debt, and meet technical skill needs in critical industries. Opening comments about the book are followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Newman and experts in policy, education and training, and business.


Featured Speakers

Newman, Katherine (photo credit Will Kirk) - for webKatherine S. Newman is the author of twelve books on topics ranging from urban poverty to middle class economic insecurity to school violence. No Shame in My Game: the Working Poor in the Inner City received the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Prize and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Book Award. Newman, who has held positions at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and Princeton, is currently provost and professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of California – Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and sociology from the University of California – San Diego.

Mike-headshot-new - for webMichael G. Johnson is the CEO of Johnson Talent Development (JTD), a coaching firm focused on the development of next generation leaders. Previously, he served as the chief human resources officer at UPS, where he was integrally involved in defining, influencing and operationalizing global talent and leadership strategies aligned to UPS business strategies. With over thirty five years of experience, he has worked in all aspects of HR, including: recruiting and hiring, talent management, leadership development, engagement, workforce planning and succession planning. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University. He has completed HR Executive Management programs at the University of Michigan and Emory University.

Andy Van Kleunen is the chief executive officer of National Skills Coalition, which he founded in 2000 in collaboration with leaders from community-based organizations, businesses, unions, community colleges, workforce boards and research organizations.  An expert on state and federal workforce policy, he oversees all aspects of the Coalition’s efforts, including building alliances with new partners and advising state and federal policy initiatives. Previously, Andy was the director of workforce policy for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, where he worked with employers, unions and client advocates to improve job quality and training for low-wage workers within the nation’s long-term care sector. Andy holds a master’s degree in urban sociology from the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and honors studies from Villanova University.

Sandi Vito - for webSandi Vito is the director of the 1199SEIU/League Training and Upgrading Fund, the Greater New York Education Fund, and the Registered Nurse Training and Job Security Fund. Jointly governed by labor and management, the three organizations provide frontline healthcare workers an array of education and training benefits, including foundational skills, health certificates and degrees. Previously, Vito served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In 2008, she served on the Presidential Transition Team for the US Department of Labor. Vito has a bachelor’s in economics from Richard Stockton College and studied Urban Studies and Community/Regional Planning at Temple University.


Related Resources

“Apprenticeship: Training that Works, By Susan Crane and John Colborn, Published by the Aspen Institute and SkillUp Washington, February 2016.

“Recasting American Apprenticeship: A Summary of the Barriers to Apprenticeship Expansion Research Project, By John Colborn and Nneka Jenkins, Published by Skills for America’s Future at the Aspen Institute, November 2015.

“Apprenticeship: Completion and Cancellation in the Building Trades, By Matt Helmer and Dave Altstadt, Published by the Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative, October 2013.


This event is part of the Working in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program that highlights an array of critical issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers in the United States and ideas for improving and expanding economic opportunities for working people. For more information, visit




Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #talkgoodjobs.

Event information
Tue Apr 19, 2016
12:00pm - 1:30pm GMT+0000
The Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036, United States