Sydney Diavua is Community Engagement Associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Our economy is only as strong as its workforce, and that strength is bolstered by a system that provides workers with access to the skills and training needed to be productive and contribute to the economy. Traditionally, dialogue on workforce development has centered on the provision of social services such as education, job training and placement. There is, however, another perspective that reframes the narrative on workforce development from the provision of social services to an important investment in our national economy. Successful workforce development efforts increase a population’s employability and can change the economic trajectory of low-income or less-educated workers and their families by fostering economic mobility. This mobility contributes to increased consumer purchasing power. Additionally, when the workforce development system can meet employers’ needs with a qualified, skilled workforce, business productivity improves. Under this framing, workforce development efforts can be viewed as investments that contribute to economic growth in local communities, their broader regions, and the nation as a whole.
Over the next two years, the Federal Reserve System, along with our partners, is advancing this dialogue as a part of “Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers.” Under this initiative, banks from across the Federal Reserve System are engaging stakeholders from the workforce, philanthropic, nonprofit, financial service, and private sectors to re-envision workforce solutions as investments in our national economy, not as social services. This work will coalesce at the national “Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers” conference on October 4–6, 2017 in Austin, TX. We invite you to join us in Austin, where we’ll further explore concepts such as emerging financing tools, opportunities to leverage and blend funding sources, and the “good jobs strategy” with industry experts, researchers, and thought leaders. This conference will also serve as an opportunity for partners, like CDFIs, to better understand how to contribute to an investment framework. More about the conference and a link to register can be found here.
Beyond the conference, this initiative provides an opportunity for the Federal Reserve to further its inquiry and engagement into workforce development at individual Reserve Banks and as a system. Workforce is an especially important topic to the community development function of the Federal Reserve owing to its implications under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The most recent interagency guidance provided clarification about how CRA can support activities that underpin workforce and economic development because the foundation of strong households and communities are good jobs.
We encourage you to visit www.investinwork.org to learn more about this initiative, access resources on workforce development, and learn how you can partner in this work.
Investing in America's Workforce is an initiative of the Federal Reserve System in collaboration with the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, the Ray Marshall Center of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.