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The current labor shortage provides an incentive for state and local governments to reassess policies that have created barriers to employment for job seekers with a criminal record and for firms that might consider hiring them. Investing in Opportunities to Create Good Jobs. Abstract Last year marked the first year that Americans spent more money on food prepared outside the home than on food prepared inside the home. Fueling this new economy is the labor of food-preparation and -service workers, and the fortunes of the restaurant industry have risen on this tide.

Yet that growth has not led to increased prosperity for its workforce.

Restaurant workers represent the plurality of minimum wage workers and the vast majority of workers earning below the minimum wage, and they live in poverty at more than two times the rest of the workforce. In these states, federal law requires that when the hourly wage, subsidized by tips, does not equal the minimum wage, employers must pay workers the difference. Nineteen percent of tipped restaurant workers work in one of the seven states where there is no subminimum wage below the state minimum wage.

Yet those 19 percent fare better economically, depend less on government assistance, and work in an industry as vibrant as or more vibrant than that of their peers in other states. These seven states demonstrate that One Fair Wage for all workers, a movement that proposes no subminimum wage for tipped employees, is a desirable policy pathway to improve the lives of a sizable and growing economic mainspring.

Abstract In this chapter, the author considers three key worker-related challenges that businesses face—turnover, engagement, and productivity—and offers potential solutions for addressing these challenges while also improving the quality of jobs. Providing career growth opportunities and implementing programs that address working conditions of low-wage workers can be particularly beneficial for frontline workers who typically lack affordable health benefits, work in jobs that are physically demanding, or work outside normal business hours.

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Author and Affiliation Steven L. Dawson consultant; founder of Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute Karen Kahn writer, editor, and communications strategist. Abstract As part of its job quality initiatives, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions has profiled several companies that are growing their businesses by investing in their employees.

One company outperforms its competitors in the materials manufacturing industry by investing in the skills and careers of its entry-level workers. By providing competitive wages, employee benefits, and training and advancement opportunities—and most importantly, building a culture of trust—the employer maximizes efficiency, develops new products, and maintains its position as a market leader. Another company focuses on empowering its production employers. By offering the essential elements of a good job—respectable pay, the opportunity to contribute, and the chance to grow personally and professionally—this company is able to develop new products at lower costs.

Abstract Since the Great Recession of —, income inequality has emerged as one of the leading economic development issues in the United States. Community development financial institutions CDFIs can help bridge this income gap by working with businesses to create quality jobs that offer fair wages, good benefits, meaningful advancement, and wealth-building opportunities.

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Based on the experiences of four CDFIs, this chapter explains current approaches to quality job creation, identifies barriers to CDFI involvement in this area, and makes recommendations to expand this work. Dawson consultant; founder of Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute. Abstract For years, many in the workforce field have hesitated to discuss "quality" jobs for fear of alienating employers. Yet today, the U. As a result, the interests of low-income job seekers and employers are now more wholly aligned—a once-in-a-generation convergence.

This chapter argues the workforce field and its funders must fundamentally redefine the types of services they offer, the strategies they pursue, and the very nature of how they finance workforce operations. The chapter calls for a new generation of lead workforce intermediaries to help employers invest in, and leverage, their frontline workers—helping businesses not only to create quality jobs but also achieve operational excellence to secure and defend their competitive business advantage.

Investing in Work and Wealth. Abstract Targeted investment in training that prepares workers to become employee-owners could be a strategy to retain middle-skill jobs and increase the quality of low-wage jobs by enabling the survival of businesses at risk of closure. The workforce development field has an opportunity to play a critical role in building the capacity of employees to assume ownership. The impending retirement of a generation of small business owners will lead to business closures and employee layoffs, resulting in the loss of middle-skill jobs and deepening inequality; these impacts are starker for minority-owned and rural businesses.

However, owner retirements also present opportunities to transfer ownership of small and midsized enterprises to their employees. The literature on employee-owned firms and their benefits for workers shows higher-than-average investments in their workforces and higher productivity and job satisfaction than conventional workplaces.

Employee ownership has a demonstrated ability to increase job quality, skill building, and employee retention. The author argues for an approach to workforce development that reconceives the employment relationship, with a worker-centered dual focus on job quality and retention.

A case study of a recently converted business, providing both middle-skill and entry-level jobs, illustrates the potential of cooperative conversions to retain jobs but also the need for systematic supports for low-wage workers to assume ownership responsibilities.

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Author and Affiliation Susan R. Abstract Profit sharing is a pay strategy to increase job quality for hourly employees.

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This chapter provides an overview of profit sharing. It provides research on its effectiveness for employers and employees and highlights a profit-sharing strategy that emphasizes financial transparency and employee participation. The authors present a case study of implementation in a restaurant that resulted in increased profits and decreased turnover.

The chapter includes recommendations for policy changes and scalability, such as increasing access to state job training funds, providing a special tax status, and offering tax credits. As a workforce strategy, profit sharing values employees for their existing skills and provides alternatives to credentialing, favoring earn-and-learn models in which learning occurs on the job, thus mitigating transportation and childcare challenges. Abstract Employee ownership carries a long history as an intervention for wealth distribution, reducing inequality and increasing economic security for lower-wage workers.

In some models of employee ownership, employees are granted greater decision-making power within their firms, a situation that often results in increased job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and motivation in the workforce. Because employee-owned companies place a high value on education and skill development, they have become models for developing sustainable, high-quality jobs with incomes and benefits that enable people to move out of poverty and to access relevant career pathways.

Abstract The very people who need structures of opportunity to grow and thrive are concentrated in jobs that do not pay well and that society does not appear to value. The opportunities start where access to jobs occurs—whether brick and mortar or platform based. For low-skilled and low-income workers, the characteristics of their employment—the benefits, flexibility, consistency of work, and opportunities for skill and knowledge advancement—converge to facilitate a pathway to wealth accumulation that income alone does not provide. This chapter examines these collective work-linked, wealth-building characteristics, framing them as employment capital, to understand how they work together and what their relationship is to workforce development.

The chapter examines how shared-capital firms in which all employees hold some percentage of ownership in the company produce greater employment capital than more traditionally structured firms, creating opportunities to leverage the value of employees, improve their economic mobility opportunities, and produce more stable businesses and communities.

Investing in Rural Work. Author and Affiliation Stuart A. Rosenfeld consultant; founder and former president of Regional Technology Services. Abstract Challenges facing rural workforce development include the loss of traditional employment, an aging population with insufficient education or experience to prepare them for the future, limited choices of programs, and the absence of a national education system that can meet workforce development needs.


Responsibilities for preparing the rural workforce currently reside with career and technical education in secondary schools, community and technical colleges, and various Department of Labor training programs, including registered apprenticeships. To remain effective in the changing economy, a rural workforce development system will require several components: status as a public good that benefits the region, updated curricula to match the current and anticipated needs of employers and students, and the ability to reach older and nontraditional learners by contextualizing education.

To navigate an updated system, rural workers will need improved labor market information, more informed counseling, and increased access to higher education and lifelong learning. Author and Affiliation Erik R. Pages EntreWorks Consulting. Abstract Community leaders in rural America are actively embracing new economic development strategies that seek to promote entrepreneurship and support talent development.

To date, there are few effective collaborations among economic developers, entrepreneurship advocates, and the workforce development system. This chapter reviews recent practices and offers suggestions for how to strengthen the partnerships by engaging the workforce system in supporting self-employment training, youth entrepreneurship, and other new approaches.

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Author and Affiliation Kenneth M. Abstract Cooperative Extension, part of the land-grant university system, has a historical and current stake in workforce development, a persistent societal need that continues to demand investment within the extension system. A recent national pilot project supported by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development identified an initial sample of workforce development resources and pointed out potential gaps in both research and programming. An additional outcome of the project was a simple typology of current resources that included two areas of focus: a broad systems approach typically with a community focus and a more specific and targeted education and training approach typically with a key audience focus.

This chapter highlights Cooperative Extension programs representing these two areas to illustrate the varied approaches in practice today to address this national issue. Abstract Every day, millions of U. These degraded working arrangements hinder regional economic development by consigning workers to dead-end jobs in which skill acquisition is prohibitively difficult and by limiting overall economic productivity.

Responses to the problem of degraded work typically emerge from organizing, rather than from public programs. Workers, community organizations, labor organizations, and other activist groups have responded to declining pay and working conditions with increasing effectiveness, through the basic tools of building organizations, bargaining, and advocating policy change.

Such organizing campaigns contribute directly to the goals of workforce development: they lead to higher pay, greater job security, and upward mobility for workers, and they incentivize employers to seek, train, and develop high-skill, high-productivity workers. Abstract Despite decades of employment decline, local manufacturing industries remain important economic and cultural assets to communities. Scholars, workforce and economic developers, and advocates are rediscovering the benefits of these traditions of "making," and they are creating initiatives to preserve and nurture them.

However, secondary schools—once significant providers of training in industrial arts—have gradually shed the capacity to train future manufacturing workers and may not be in a position to participate in these initiatives. This chapter profiles five innovative high school manufacturing programs from around the United States, classifying them according to their organizational structures and education delivery typologies.

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It derives lessons for other places that may want to implement their own high-school-level manufacturing training programs and highlights opportunities for community linkages. Abstract This chapter offers a solution to a dual labor market challenge facing many urban areas today: high youth unemployment combined with hard-to-fill job openings in urban manufacturing.

Manufacturing Connect goes well beyond student education and career preparation; it also uses innovative strategies of employer engagement to shift perceptions of inner-city youth and increase employer appreciation of the role this next-generation manufacturing workforce will play in industry innovation and long-term survival.

With that in mind, the program helps employer partners—mostly small and midsized manufacturers—identify and resolve gaps in organizational and human resource management. In this regard, Manufacturing Connect provides a replicable model for helping firms not only recruit and retain recent high school graduates, but also formalize internal mentoring and training systems that benefit incumbent workers more generally.

Financial Innovations in Workforce Development. Abstract The philanthropic sector provides a significant amount of capital to support numerous social and economic objectives, but before now, little was known about the sector's support of workforce development initiatives.

The authors use a data set of grants made by the largest U. This level of funding represented less than 2 percent of total grantmaking by large foundations to recipients in the United States during this time. More than half of grantmaking activity in this arena was conducted by fewer than 30 foundations, with funds concentrated in just six metro areas. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of funding originated from independent foundations and was destined for nonprofit organizations, but corporate foundations played an outsized role. Author and Affiliation Celeste Richie public policy professional.

Abstract Outcomes-oriented contracts emphasize measurable impacts for workers. Instead of promoting specific program models, outcomes-oriented contracts embed data to provide feedback for improving services and rewarding providers that achieve results. Providers are incentivized to draw upon evidence-based interventions and innovate to meet the needs of their specific community. Instead of tying funding to a specific program, outcomes-oriented contracts enable government, the largest funder of social services, to focus resources on measurable outcomes.

By changing how and what government pays for, it is possible to unlock innovation by enabling workforce organizations to experiment, scale what works, and deliver sustained results. Abstract Effective workforce development policies, strategies, and initiatives weave together two connected objectives: they help individuals attain the education and skills necessary to enter the workforce and climb the economic ladder, and they improve the productivity and vitality of the economy. Expanding high-impact programs to dramatically improve workforce development objectives requires persistent and sustained collaboration among the education, economic development, nonprofit, and business sectors.

Outcomes-focused financing tools such as Pay for Success can align incentives across these sectors to achieve meaningful and measurable results for individuals, businesses, and society. Pay for Success is an innovative public-private partnership that unites investors, nonprofit service providers, and payers often government around a powerful common goal: improving outcomes for individuals and communities in need. This chapter explores why Pay for Success is a promising tool to tackle complex social challenges and highlights how the model is being used to improve workforce outcomes for those who need it most.