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Building the workforce of the future: Resilient people and places

Unfilled jobs, low labor force participation, and declining economic mobility suggest education systems are struggling to equip workers with the skills employers demand. In a time of rapid technological change, how can private and public sector leaders join together with the education community to build more resilient people and places?

On May 21, 2019, the Center for Universal Education and the Future of the Middle Class Initiative at Brookings will co-host a symposium titled “Building the workforce of the future: Resilient people and places.” We will convene policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and thought leaders from the government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors to discuss education and economic development strategies that can provide locally relevant solutions to enhance economic and social mobility.

Senior Fellow Marcela Escobari will present new research on the workforce of the future that uses data analytics to inform city policy, inclusive growth, and skilling strategies. Speakers include John Allen, President of Brookings; Jim Shelton, Senior Advisor to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Stephen Moret, CEO of the Virginia Development Partnership. Panel discussions will focus on implications of the changing nature of work on education, inclusive economic development, and place-based policies around the world.


Welcome and opening remarks

Session 1: Developing resilient people and places: What is at stake?

Globalization, technological change, and the erosion of middle-skill jobs have upended the supply of good jobs and the demand for new skills in the workforce. In this rapidly changing time, can we create economies that thrive—and foster inclusive economic growth for all? This session will lay the foundation for the day’s focus on education and economic development strategies to create resilient people and places.

Coffee break

Session 2: How can cities grow and create inclusive opportunities for employment and mobility?

To spur economic growth, local policymakers need a tailored approach to leverage and invest in local capabilities. Marcela Escobari will present new research using predictive network analytics that can shed light on industry and city growth patterns, and help each city drive growth that is inclusive and sustainable. Through a diverse panel, the session will then explore the factors that indicate growth patterns and how local leaders can best use this information, along with other related questions.

Bill Avey

Vice President & General Manager, Personal Systems Services - HP Inc.

Scott Jensen

Director - Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island


Session 3: How can K-12 education system effectively support young people for the world of work?

This session will explore a range of approaches that educators use to help prepare students to thrive in the world of work—from specialized high schools to innovative primary school curriculum to whole system approaches to developing life-long learning competence. We will debate which strategies are best in which contexts and how we can best serve the most marginalized students.

Coffee break

Session 4: Pathways to prosperity: How can post-secondary education and adult learning opportunities help develop resilient people in the digital age?

How can we improve the ramps from low-skill, low-wage jobs to higher-skill, higher-wage jobs? Innovative models in post-secondary education are key to helping nontraditional students transition to the jobs of the future and today. Following a short presentation on reskilling, this session will highlight promising innovative approaches to creating a lifelong learning infrastructure that works for everyone, especially low-wage workers.

Gordon Jones

Founding Dean - College of Innovation and Design, Boise State University

Mary Ann Gilmer

Vice President of Mission Services - Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Session 5: Fireside chat and closing: A local perspective on developing resilient people and places

When is it wise to spend public funds on industrial development strategies? Can a capabilities-based approach to regional development attract top employers? Can investments in your workforce in a mobile market pay off? Through a conversation with Stephen Moret, who successfully led the state-and-local team bid for Amazon’s HQ2 in Virginia and who is launching a custom workforce program with the Virginia Community College System, Jim Shelton will conclude by reviewing the themes of the day through a timely example of how these decisions play out on the ground.

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