We are pleased to bring you the latest edition of the Economic Opportunities Program’s newsletter! Learn how EOP and its initiatives are driving change and helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy.
Reimagining the Future of Retail Work
Changes in technology and business norms are upending industries, creating both opportunity and anxiety for business leaders and workers. This is especially true in the retail industry, which employs 16 million people in the US. To explore what the evolving retail landscape can teach us about job quality and economic opportunity, the Economic Opportunities Program, in partnership with Reimagine Retail partner Pacific Community Ventures, hosted “What’s in Store? The Future of Retail Work(ers)” in San Francisco. Workforce and economic development practitioners joined philanthropy leaders to discuss the challenges facing retail workers and small businesses and explored promising solutions that support economic mobility.
Creating Entrepreneurship Pathways for Opportunity Youth
There are 4.6 million young people ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. For these young people, known as opportunity youth, entrepreneurship can offer a path to connect to the economy, and new initiatives are helping them learn the skills they need to succeed both as entrepreneurs and in other aspects of their lives. This month, the Business Ownership Initiative co-hosted an event with the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, “Creating Entrepreneurship Pathways for Opportunity Youth,” to learn about these initiatives from the people closest to them. The event featured two panels exploring how youth entrepreneurship can build wealth and promote economic self-determination in low-income communities, including practitioners from local programs around the country and a young entrepreneur. The full video of the event is available here.
Developing and Sharing Tools to Work with Employers
When workforce organizations deepen their engagement with employers, they can support workforce practice changes that improve jobs, increase employee motivation and productivity, and enhance the quality of work life for employees and their managers. This month, we released Reimagining Employer Engagement, a toolkit developed in partnership with Reimagine Retail Chicagoland that provides workforce professionals with practical information and tools to approach employers from a position of value and help them attract and retain talent. The toolkit provides resources and guidance for developing a robust network of employer contacts; contacting employers and pitching services; and deepening employer relationships. The toolkit was released at an event in Chicago, which featured EOP Research Director Amy Blair as a speaker.
Building the Skills of Local Workforce Leaders
This month, we started accepting applications for the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy, which will be run through a partnership with the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Communities Foundation of Texas. Applications for the Academy are open through August 28.
Additionally, the Hudson County and Chicago Workforce Leadership Academies held meetings focused on strengthening evidence-informed practices and using data to work with employers to address issues of job quality. Practitioners from the Bronx Opportunity Network and Grace Outreach joined the Hudson County Fellows to share valuable insights on collaborative approaches to service delivery. In Chicago, fellows learned how to use data to address hiring, retention, and advancement disparities within companies from Janice Urbanik, senior director for innovation and strategy at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and Mitch Langeler, vice president of talent and culture at SMASHotels.
Exploring Ideas to Expand Access to Quality Jobs
Good Companies/Good Jobs Director Mark Popovich discussed the importance of quality jobs in addressing poverty and expanding opportunity at the 2019 Kansas Conference on Poverty. Mark also shared strategies to encourage employers to improve the jobs that they offer and explained the how the initiative’s Working Metrics tool can help provide business incentives for these changes. The conference was sponsored by the state’s Association of Community Action Programs, bringing together direct service workers, government agency managers, and volunteers and anti-poverty advocates from Kansas’s nonprofit organizations.
Highlighting Trends in the Upskilling Movement
How can businesses create upskilling programs that set both them and their employees up for success? UpSkill America Director Jaime Fall addresses this question in the latest episode of Workforce Central, the podcast from National Association of Workforce Boards, discussing innovations in upskilling and how upskilling played an important role in his life. In a new blog post published by Amazon, Jaime also shares how a tight labor market and new approaches to upskilling are helping employers see the value in investing in training for these employees.
Upcoming at EOP
Our Reimagine Retail initiative is planning on releasing a series of new reports in the coming months based on our recent work in the field. Keep an eye out for more learnings from the field from our team!
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The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. We recognize that race, gender, and place intersect with and intensify the challenge of economic inequality and we address these dynamics by advancing an inclusive vision of economic justice. For over 25 years, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. For more information, visit as.pn/eop.
EOP has several initiatives, including the Business Ownership Initiative, Workforce Strategies Initiative, UpSkill America, and Good Companies/Good Jobs. In addition, across these approaches EOP hosts the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network and the Working in America event series.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
Thank you to our many partners and funders for supporting our efforts.
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