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Category Archives: Research Corner

Here are some new research articles in the workforce development field that you may find interesting. Please check our website regularly for more updates on new research and relevant articles.

Do job training programs work? Wrong question.


This piece originally appeared in Fast Company.

I’ve been studying job training programs for decades—ranging from efforts led by community groups to those housed within community colleges—all designed to equip people who don’t have formal degrees with marketable skills to thrive in the modern workplace. In the process, I’ve conducted interviews and focus groups with hundreds of workers and job seekers in a wide range of industries. I’ve talked to single women leaving welfare, formerly incarcerated individuals, laid-off coal miners, and out-of-school youth. They all want the same thing—to build skills and work for a living.

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What Will Be Important in the Learn and Work Ecosystem in 2030? How Do We Prepare?

This year’s kindergarteners will graduate from high school in 2030. It’s clear that they will need to prepare for a rapidly changing work-and-learn future, as will their parents and the nation’s entire adult population. What isn’t as clear yet: What will be important in 2030, and what actions do we put into place now to prepare for the future?

To help tackle these questions, Lumina Foundation recently sponsored the second of two convenings on AI Future Skills with the Institute for the Future (IFTF), an organization that has been forecasting ten-year futures for 50 years. IFTF has a well-tested foresight process, which we followed. We convened a diverse group of thinkers and practitioners and asked them to think about what will go away in 10 years, then think about what will be most important. We ran four scenarios, painting four different pictures of what 2030 might look like based on research about the drivers of change. With each scenario, the group considered what actions would be needed should that scenario prevail.

This October, IFTF will issue a report on the convenings, which included experts in artificial intelligence, education, economics and workforce. The report will summarize the experts’ views on what skills will likely be needed to navigate the learn-and-work ecosystem over the next 10 to 15 years, and their suggested steps for better serving the nation’s future needs.

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Coordinating workforce development across stakeholders: An interview with ManpowerGroup CEO Jonas Prising

By Wan-Lae Cheng, Thomas Dohrmann, and Jonathan Law

Finding mutually beneficial areas for collaboration may be closer than you think. The key? Shifting from “just-in-time” hiring to retraining.

Structural changes in the labor market, including an aging population and the rise of the gig economy, have created a persistent skills gap for employers. This mismatch in talent has become a top challenge for businesses, educators, and policy makers. Businesses understand that a predictable supply of workers is critical to their growth and viability. Policy makers are seeing that persistent underemployment and a lack of opportunity deepen economic inequality. And educational institutions are experiencing increasing demands from organizations to tailor their offerings to the demands of industry. As a result, all are motivated to create a 21st-century workforce that can serve both business and society. The major question is how these groups can work together to address common goals.

McKinsey recently sat down with Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup, to discuss changes in the labor market and how organizations should adapt. Prising shared his thoughts on identifying skills adjacencies and opportunities for upskilling, partnering with educational institutions, and hiring based on an employee’s ability to learn as opposed to current skill sets.

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Everything You Need to Understand About Underemployment

When I graduated with my PhD in English four years ago, I was most concerned about not finding a job at all. I was so worried about unemployment that I didn’t realize I might face another problem entirely: underemployment.

In the years leading up to that moment, I’d done everything in my power to pursue a career in academic publishing. In addition to my prior office experience, I’d held three internships, regularly attended conferences to meet with editors, and kept up with scholarship on several topics. Sure, the industry’s competitive. But I believed my education and experience would help me not just break in but accelerate past entry-level.

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Workers with low levels of education still haven’t recovered from the Great Recession

From Brookings

Lauren Bauer and Jay Shambaugh

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Over a decade after the start of the Great Recession, most Americans looking for a job can find one—the unemployment rate has fallen to around 3.9 percent. Also, following a decline in labor force participation that pre-dated but continued through the Great Recession, the share of Americans aged 25-54 in the labor market has increased in the last few years.

Despite these positive developments, the labor market is not perfect. Wage growth is still sluggish, with modest gains offset by inflation. Despite recent increases, the share of prime-age Americans in the labor force is still slightly below the pre-Recession level. Levels of unemployment vary widely across places and the population by key demographic characteristics.

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From rust belt to robot belt: Turning AI into jobs in the US heartland

Artificial intelligence is offering an amazing opportunity to increase prosperity, but whether or not ­we will seize it is our choice.

by David Rotman

MIT Technology Review

June 18, 2018

The vast vacant lot along the Monongahela River has been a scar from Pittsburgh’s industrial past for decades. It was once the site of the Jones and Laughlin steelworks, one of the largest such facilities in the city back when steel was the dominant industry there. Most of the massive structures are long gone, leaving behind empty fields pocked with occasional remnants of steelmaking and a few odd buildings. It all stares down the river at downtown Pittsburgh.

Next to the sprawling site is one of Pittsburgh’s poorer neighborhoods, Hazelwood, where a house can go for less than $50,000. As with many of the towns that stretch south along the river toward West Virginia, like McKeesport and Duquesne, the economic reasons for its existence—steel and coal—are a fading memory.

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How to launch an apprenticeship program

Trending in training today is an idea that has been around for centuries: apprenticeships.

But today’s programs are quite different from their predecessors, which were often informal, low-paying and focused on a small number of skilled trades. Now, we’re seeing them pop up in some of the most unlikely places, from fast food to retail, information technology and beyond.

The opportunity to learn on the job, with skilled teachers providing insight, can be an alternative to formal education for many. New high school graduates, displaced workers and veterans are all making use of these programs. 

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How do we train workers for jobs that don’t exist? Executives with nearly 1 million employees weigh in

Published on May 10, 2018

Caroline Fairchild

Managing News Editor, LinkedIn


Dave McKay is worried. The CEO of Canadian bank RBC, McKay recently read a report written by his team that that at a minimum, 25% of the jobs in Canada will significantly change in the near future due to technology. Another 50% will at least be materially changed as well.

Of course, McKay doesn’t need to read a report to know change is coming. With RBC employing more than 80,000 workers across their retail stores and corporate offices, McKay sees every day how technology is making his employees anxious about the future.

“My view is this could be a bumpy ride. There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “There’s anxiety about the future…. It’s palpable. And I think this journey is going to be difficult.”

McKay shared these thoughts on a panel that I moderated last week at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. Joined on stage with leaders from global manufacturer Flex, professional services firm EY and hedge fund WorldQuant, McKay gave conference attendees an inside look into what some of the largest employers across industries are doing to get their workforces prepare for the future.

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Restoring the Dignity of Work: Transforming the U.S. Workforce Development System into a World Leader

Construction Users Roundtable
Construction Industry Institute

Even with dramatic increases in infrastructure funding and
stronger development of innovations, we as a nation no
longer have the skilled construction workforce necessary to
build the physical and technical infrastructure required for
future generations. Over the past three decades, we have
seen a shortage of skilled construction craft professionals
emerge3,4,5,6. The skills shortage has worsened to the point
that it is not only hard to find qualified craft professionals,
but the shortage is affecting projects’ schedules, costs
and safety.

Read the report

More than a third of workers in Pittsburgh’s metro area have jobs at high risk of automation

 | June 26, 2018

Sky Williams has been driving trucks since his early 20s. The Indiana Township resident is 46 now and when he sees headlines like, “Robots will take our jobs. We’d better plan now, before it’s too late,” it doesn’t concern him. Even though experts say truck drivers’ jobs are susceptible to automation.

Though Williams acknowledges the rapid development of self-driving vehicles, he doesn’t believe his job could be completely automated. Williams transports large quantities of stone and other building materials to and from construction sites.

“There’s places that I go that a self-automated system would not be able to work. Like, we’re working out by the airport… I’ll take stone there and, a lot of times, the laydown yard is all mud pretty much,” he said.

“There’s places that I go that a self-automated system would not be able to work,” said Sky Williams, who has been driving trucks since his early 20s. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Plus, being behind the wheel of a truck is different than a car, with maneuvers and considerations that he thinks can’t be easily programmed. “There’s a rhythm that goes with just about everywhere you’re driving. Driving a truck is totally different than driving a car, because you have to increase your stopping distance. You have to watch everything around you. The more you have pedestrians, the more unpredictable that road is,” Williams said.

Right now, demand […]

PA Workforce Development Association