The Hamilton Project

Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States

ABSTRACT

To improve the employment rates and earnings of Americans workers, we need to create more-coherent and more-effective education and workforce development systems, focusing primarily (though not exclusively) on disadvantaged youth and adults, and with education and training more clearly targeted towards firms and sectors that provide good-paying jobs. This paper proposes a new set of competitive grants from the federal government to states that would fund training partnerships between employers in key industries, education providers, workforce agencies, and intermediaries at the state level, plus a range of other supports and services. The grants would especially reward the expansion of programs that appear successful when evaluated with randomized controlled trial (RCT) techniques. The evidence suggests that these grants could generate benefits that are several times larger than their costs, including higher earnings and lower unemployment rates among the disadvantaged.