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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to “lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.”

To assist with this effort, Third Way spent the last four months working to uncover the secret sauce that makes workforce programs go from good to great. We examined hundreds of programs as we searched for unique training innovations with external validation to support their efforts. Based on this comprehensive research, we identified seven key traits of successful programs. As policymakers work to remake the federal workforce system, it is imperative that grant programs and other federal support incent and reward these characteristics.

  1. Actively Engage Local Business: Graduates of training programs are more likely to land jobs and earn higher wages when their training is specifically designed to meet the needs of employers.
  2. Use Labor Market Data to Drive Decisions: Successful programs use labor market data and job projections to tailor training to growing industries and eliminate irrelevant programs.
  3. Treat Education Like a Job: Training programs work best when they simulate actual work conditions as closely as possible, from the topics studied to the actual learning environment.
  4. Connect People to Careers: Effective programs clarify the skills employers want for a series of progressively more advanced jobs in an industry, bringing transparency to the job market and building career tracks.
  5. Provide Wrap-Around Student Services: Successful programs provide a host of comprehensive—or “wrap-around”—support services for job seekers, from assistance with childcare and transportation to academic advising.
  6. Tap Innovative Funding Sources: Effective workforce development providers are creative in seeking funding, often tapping a diverse array of financial resources to deliver their services.
  7. Embrace Evaluation: Strong workforce development providers identify their strengths and weaknesses and constantly use data and evaluations to improve.

To learn more, check out our full report here

Teachers Deserve More than a Free Burrito

By Tamara Hiler

“Thank you Mrs. Mullinax for recognizing my unique talents and making me feel special.”

Another school year is coming to a close, and thousands of statements just like this are flooding the internet as politicians and school officials remind us to #ThankATeacher. Each year before classes end, Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around with the intent of showering teachers with the praise, acknowledgement, and freebies they rightfully deserve. Chipotle was even offering teachers free burritos.imageBut the fact that our society has to make a concerted effort once a year to appreciate teachers should be a telling sign that we don’t value teaching as the challenging and demanding profession that it actually is. And even though a feel-good Twitter campaign might raise the profile of teaching for one week each year, it does nothing to address the outdated policies currently keeping our high-achieving Millennials from entering the profession.

In order to truly advance the profession, we need to muster the political will to finally revisit the outdated policies that treat teachers as interchangeable “widgets,” fail to attract top-tier candidates, and push excellent teachers out the door every year. The most significant way we can honor our teachers is to modernize the profession so that it meets the needs and challenges of a 21st century career, through a major revamp to the way we recruit, prepare, and promote teachers.

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NPR’s On Point: Boys, School, and the Coming American Workforce

What’s up with our boys? 

For years now we’ve heard the drumbeat. American girls advancing on American boys in school. Then girls surpassing boys. Now girls get more A grades. Seventy percent of high school valedictorians – girls. A lot more girls – young women – going to and completing college. Now, all eyes are on the American workplace. Is it next for this trend? If school has become less a field of triumph for boys, will the workplace follow?  Will empowerment of women and a changing school and workplace world mean males to the rear?

Featuring:

Jim Kessler, co-founder and senior vice president for policy at Third Way.

Peg Tyre, education reporter. Author of “The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School and What Parents and Educators Must Do” and “The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids The Education They Deserve.” (@pegtyre)

David Autor, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We know we’ve got a crisis, and the crisis is with boys.

Elaine Kamarck, a resident scholar at Third Way and a former Clinton administration official.

A gender difference in behavioral skills, seen as early as kindergarten, is hurting boys’ academic prospects and their earning potential. For more info, read David Leonhardt’s column in The New York TimesA Link Between Fidgety Boys and a Sputtering Economy.

And for a deeper dive, be sure to check out the latest report in our NEXT series: The Secret Behind College Completion: Girls, Boys, and The Power of Eighth Grade Grades.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others…
Confused by the pathway into teaching? Us too. While most professions follow a clearly defined linear path to licensure, this is not the case for K-12 teachers. In order to professionalize teaching, we should create a path into the profession that enforces a high bar for entry and ensures that those who teach future generations are prepared on day one.
For more ideas on how to modernize the teaching profession, check out our new report, "Teaching: The Next Generation."

One of These Things is Not Like the Others…

Confused by the pathway into teaching? Us too. While most professions follow a clearly defined linear path to licensure, this is not the case for K-12 teachers. In order to professionalize teaching, we should create a path into the profession that enforces a high bar for entry and ensures that those who teach future generations are prepared on day one.

For more ideas on how to modernize the teaching profession, check out our new report, "Teaching: The Next Generation."

Collision Course: Why the Fight for Fiscal Sustainability Must Continue

“Every dollar we spend on interest is a dollar we can’t spend on Head Start, nutrition assistance, job training, infrastructure, innovation, support for public schools and early education, and other investments that help more of our people make it in America. 

When it comes to U.S. budget priorities, critical public investments are on a collision course with interest payments on our debt and other mandatory spending, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

On Monday, March 24th, 2014, Third Way hosted a panel on how Congress can make progress this year to improve our nation’s fiscal outlook. The event featured opening remarks by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, and was followed by a discussion with Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, and Third Way’s Senior Vice President for Policy Jim Kessler, moderated by veteran journalist Jill Lawrence.

Watch Congressman Hoyer’s remarks above or click here to learn more

Faced with unemployment and dim job prospects during the recession, Americans made one significant change: they went back to school. But is college still worth it today? In their op-ed for The New York TimesThird Way founders Jon Cowan & Jim Kessler write about why a college education does indeed make a difference, and lay out a few steps we can take to turn this recession-led college resurgence into one of the dominant economic trends of the 21st century.

And for more ideas on how to make college more affordable, check out our recent report: $1 Trillion and Rising: A Plan for a $10K Degree 

A bachelor’s degree could cost $10,000 - total. Here’s how.

By Dylan Matthews

(Dennis R.J. Geppert/AP)

A couple years ago, Rutgers historian David Greenberg noticed a defect endemic to books about social, political and economic problems: The last chapter always sucks. “Practically every example of that genre, no matter how shrewd or rich its survey of the question at hand, finishes with an obligatory prescription that is utopian, banal, unhelpful or out of tune with the rest of the book,” Greenberg noted.

And it’s not just books. I’ll be the first to admit that the possible fixes with which I finished off my series on the alarming rise in college tuition were pretty vague and utopian. But helpfully, the good folks at Third Way have noticed that the conversation about how to reign in tuition has gotten a little too small-minded. “For both parties, in particular Democrats, our solution to the problem of rising cost of college has been to subsidize the rising cost,”  the think tank’s president, Jonathan Cowan, says. “That’s been our official policy, to subsidize the rising cost, and that has to be seen as a fairly intellectually bankrupt approach. We need a dramatically different approach that is about driving down the rising price.”

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The more education you have, the more you earn. In 2012, two-year-degree holders earned close to $7,000 more per year than their high-school-diploma-only counterparts. Someone with a four-year degree earned roughly $15,000 more than someone with an associate degree. And a professional degree reaped nearly $35,000 more than a four-year college degree.

Faced with unemployment and dim job prospects during the recession, Americans made one significant change: they went back to school. But is college still worth it today? This weekend in The New York TimesThird Way co-founders Jon Cowan & Jim Kessler made the case for why a college education is still “worth it.”

For ideas on how to make college more affordable, check out our recent report: $1 Trillion and Rising: A Plan for a $10K Degree

For the foreseeable future, the challenge of ‘cybernation’ is not mass unemployment but the need to educate many more young people for the jobs computers cannot do.

Economists Frank Levy of MIT and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard in Third Way’s latest NEXT paper: Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work.

Read “Dancing with Robots” here, and be sure to keep up with the latest from Third Way’s Economic team: @ThirdWayEcon.

Have the robots come for the middle class?

By Jim Tankersley

image

Computers and cyborgs aren’t about to render the American worker obsolete. But they’re tilting the nation’s economy more and more in favor of the rich and away from the poor and the middle class, new economic research contends.

Despite rising fears of technology displacing huge swaths of the workforce, there remain huge classes of jobs that robots (and low-wage foreign workers) still can’t replace in the United States, and won’t replace any time soon. To land the best of those jobs, workers need sophisticated vocabularies, advanced problem-solving abilities and other high-value skills that the U.S. economy does a good job of bestowing on young people from wealthy families — but can’t seem to deliver to poor and middle-class kids.

That is the alternatively optimistic and bleak picture of the domestic labor market sketched by economists Frank Levy of MIT and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard, who conducted a detailed study of what jobs have been lost to automation in recent years and which jobs are likely to be lost as technology keeps advancing. They wrapped their findings into a new paper for the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, in which they argue, “For the foreseeable future, the challenge of ‘cybernation’ is not mass unemployment but the need to educate many more young people for the jobs computers cannot do.”

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