The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable and the Innovation Policy Forum will co-host a webinar to discuss workforce education. Even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, rising economic inequality and the shift of many former middle-class workers to an expanding, lower-end, lower-paid services sector was a troubling economic trend. At the same time, workers generally have been required to up-skill their abilities as new technologies incrementally enter the economy, and those without college educations have faced challenges in finding good jobs.
The pandemic and its economic disruption have accelerated these problems, but the United States lacks a sound and readily accessible workforce education "system," as highlighted in the National Academies study, Building America's Skilled Technical Workforce. There are too many gaps, with disconnects between school and work, between federal labor and education programs, between employers that need to collaborate, and between education institutions. The U.S. lacks advanced skills programs, front-line institutions are generally underfunded, universities are largely disengaged, and training is limited for incumbent and new entrant workers. Behind this problematic labor market is a broken labor information system. The pandemic makes workforce education reform an even higher priority.
This webinar will highlight a preliminary report of the MIT Open Learning's Workforce Education Project, which reviews the challenges to workforce education listed above and sets out ways to meet them: new programs from community colleges, universities and employers; new content delivery approaches; new education technologies and new ways to rebuild the information system. It offers a roadmap for change. This webinar will feature a discussion of the new report and its findings and of the critical implications of the pandemic for workforce education.