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Jobs for the Future aims for ‘quality jobs’ for 75 million people

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Jobs for the Future (JFF) announced a new North Star goal to help 75 million people work in quality jobs, particularly those who face systemic barriers to advancement.

Less than half of employed workers in the U.S. who face systemic barriers — 38 million people — are in quality jobs, the national nonprofit noted. The new North Star goal is intended to double that number in 10 years and reach for equitable economic advancement for all.

“At a time of record-low unemployment, it’s important to remember that our current systems define success by the number of job placements rather than the hiring of workers into quality jobs,” Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF, said in the announcement.

“Today, too few workers in this country have quality jobs — jobs that allow people to support their families and to build skills, advance, and know their well-being is prioritized,” she said. “We must do better.”

Workers who face systemic barriers to advancement include people without a four-year college degree, people with criminal records, people of color and women of all backgrounds whose highest level of education is a four-year degree.

For JFF, a quality job is one that provides not only a living wage and benefits but also stability, flexibility at work, autonomy and opportunity for economic advancement. This includes initiatives such as paid family and sick leave, fair scheduling, transparent advancement pathways, opportunities for workers’ input and an equitable workplace. To achieve this and change the future of work, JFF plans to focus on five main areas:

  • Create learner and worker opportunity: Transform education, employment and talent advancement systems to address systemic barriers, focusing intentionally on Black learners and workers.
  • Strengthen education and career navigation: Clarify the work and learning ecosystem to help people find, finance and flourish in lifelong career pathways.
  • Ensure program quality and efficacy: Organize and vet the marketplace by providing trusted information to learners, workers, investors, policymakers and partners.
  • Integrate learning and work: Acknowledge the ever-evolving labor and education market and create new integrated lifelong learning models that prioritize real-world work experience.
  • Build strong regional economies: Apply proven national practices at the local level to grow agile, resilient and inclusive global economies — and scale effective local programs at the national level.

“Far too many people are shut out of quality jobs because our education and workforce systems are inequitable, disconnected, and hard to navigate,” Tameshia Bridges Mansfield, vice president of workforce and regional economies at JFF, said in the statement.

“And far too many jobs that employers could make into quality jobs are staying stagnant,” she said. “We need to work together to transform these systems so every person, regardless of background, can advance economically.”

Learning and development opportunities can play a major role in employee economic advancement. Digital upskilling, for instance, may be particularly useful for marginalized talent who face barriers, according to a recent report, including workers who have low incomes, live in rural areas and have disabilities.

The key in achieving higher performance lies in delivering high-quality, executive-style training to staff at all levels, according to a recent survey. The most effective L&D opportunities were flexible, matched workers’ interests, enhanced their skills and advanced their careers.

This year, though, L&D programs may face major budget challenges that could hinder implementation or expansion. HR leaders can gain approval for requests by tying training programs to budget needs, emphasizing data and telling effective stories.

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