We are pleased to bring you the latest edition of the Economic Opportunities Program’s newsletter! Learn how EOP and its initiatives are working to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in a changing economy.
Reflecting on the History, and Future, of Labor
In an op-ed in Quartz published on Labor Day, EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway invites us to consider how we can build a world of work through policies, business practices, institutions, and social solutions that expand economic opportunity to all. This month we marked the 125th Labor Day as an official federal holiday. Work has changed quite a bit since the first Labor Day, and how work may change going forward has been a lively topic of discussion lately. Read the op-ed to learn more about what these changes mean for workers today and how leaders in business, government, and civic organizations can work to ensure more Americans have a chance at economic stability and mobility. Click here.
Sharing New Resources to Help Workforce Leaders
Earlier this year, the Workforce Strategies Initiative and UpSkill America published the Cost of Turnover Tool – a simple, “back of the envelope” calculator that businesses and their workforce partners can use to estimate how much it costs a business to replace staff. This month, we shared a new interview with leaders from two workforce organizations that are using the tool with businesses. They report that it’s helping them make the financial case for investing in strategies that strengthen job quality and boost employee retention and for developing apprenticeship programs. These two organizations’ experiences offer ideas for both business representatives and service providers interested in using the Cost of Turnover Tool. You can read the full interview here.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership launched a new website to share research findings and resources developed as part of our Reimagine Retail initiative. The Workforce Partnership conducted research on San Diego’s labor market — including cross-border purchasing and employment patterns, the impact of new minimum wage legislation, racial disparity, and the future of retail jobs. The website shares research findings through an interactive retail industry report, a webinar discussion, and publications with field research findings and practical research tools. The results of this research led the Workforce Partnership to reshape service delivery to workers and engagement strategies with retail businesses. Their experience offers insights for workforce leaders around the country. To explore these new resources, visit the Workforce Partnership’s website.
Many business owners may understand the value of providing good jobs, but need practical resources and support to improve stability and mobility for workers. Through Reimagine Retail, Pacific Community Ventures developed and piloted Good Jobs, Good Business, a how-to guide for small business owners that makes a business case for investing in workers and offers actionable guidance and resources on hiring, training, employee engagement, wages, benefits, and scheduling. You can find the full toolkit on PCV’s website, along with case studies from businesses that completed pilots and improved business performance and worker experience. Click here.
Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of Worker Voice
On September 16, EOP hosted veteran New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse to discuss his new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up – The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, which explores the history of how working people have organized to address challenges in the past, the issues that have led to the decline in labor unions in recent decades, and more recent examples of workers coming together to improve the conditions in which they work. In a conversation with EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway, Steven discussed why worker power has declined in the US, the roles of women and people of color in the history of the labor movement, and successful new models for collective action that can amplify worker voice and power today. Watch the full video here or read this summary from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.
Building Local Networks of Workforce Development Leaders
This month, Maureen Conway spent time with Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows in Chicagoland and Hudson County, discussing job quality and opportunities for expanding employer engagement within workforce systems. Fellows in Chicago also heard from Robin Walker, Learning Exchange director at YouthBuild Philly, about fostering partnerships to build job quality. In Hudson County, New Jersey, Sarah Burns, director of research and evaluation at the San Diego Workforce Partnership, shared her organization’s latest research and strategies for workforce leaders in the retail sector. In New Orleans, Fellows began developing team-based projects to address a systems-level workforce challenge in the New Orleans community that they will present to local stakeholders.
Discussing Barriers to Capital for Entrepreneurs
Business Ownership Initiative Director Joyce Klein was featured in a piece from Marketplace on Census data that shows that entrepreneurship has declined since the Great Recession. Joyce makes the case that this trend makes it even more important to focus on the barriers faced by businesses owned by women and people of color, who comprise a larger proportion of those who are starting new firms. Learn more here.
Meeting with Leaders to Advance the Upskilling Movement
UpSkill America Director Jaime Fall spoke at a New England Board of Higher Education meeting on “Upskilling New England: Bridging the Gap between Higher Education and Employers.” Jaime discussed some of the factors leading employers to invest in the education, training, and development of their workers, the types of programs employers are investing in, and what employers report they are looking for from their education partners. Jaime’s remarks set the stage for the two-day discussion on how higher education institutions in the Northeast can help employers meet their current and emerging skill needs.
Upcoming at EOP
On October 25, we will be launching a new event series, Opportunity in America, with a series of panels that will explore what economic opportunity looks like today, approaches to increasing inclusion, and ideas that will allow more individuals, families, and communities to achieve economic success. Learn more and register for the event here.
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The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. We recognize that race, gender, and place intersect with and intensify the challenge of economic inequality and we address these dynamics by advancing an inclusive vision of economic justice. For over 25 years, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. For more information, visit as.pn/eop.
EOP has several initiatives, including the Business Ownership Initiative, Workforce Strategies Initiative, UpSkill America, and Good Companies/Good Jobs. In addition, across these approaches EOP hosts the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network and the Opportunity in America event series.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
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