Reimagining the Workforce Development System for the 21st Century and Beyond

Technology, globalization, and demographic changes have altered what employers need from workers and what workers can expect from employers. Many Americans no longer follow a straightforward, linear path from education to the workforce to retirement—rather, it is becoming more common for individuals to work while going to school, return to school to get more education or change careers after spending some time in the workforce, or work multiple freelance jobs. RAND Education and Labor researchers are working with education and training institutions, employers, and policymakers to take a systems-levels approach to examining education, workforce development, and employment, and to develop evidence-based policy recommendations to better support workers and employers in the 21st-century and beyond.

  • A 3D printer making a wrench with bright green filament, photo by wsf-f/Adobe Stock

    Sep 19, 2019

    The U.S. Workforce Development and Employment System Needs an Overhaul

    Despite globalization, technology, and demographic changes, the U.S. approach to education, training, and workforce development still operates on a 20th-century model. Americans need a system that provides on-ramps for transitioning individuals to access opportunities while suitably matching workers and jobs.

  • Confident student writing exam in classroom at high school, photo by AntonioDiaz/AdobeStock

    Raising the Bar for Graduation Pathways to College and Work

    Jun 11, 2019

    In 2014, Louisiana began requiring high school students to pursue one or both of two possible graduation pathways. One focused on preparation for college. The other focused career and technical education. What are early signals of changes in outcomes that may be associated with these graduation pathways policy changes?

  • A young man learns as an apprentice in a manufacturing setting

    The Appalachia Partnership Initiative

    Mar 9, 2016

    The Appalachia Partnership Initiative seeks to build sustainable STEM education and technical training programs in the Greater Pittsburgh area, ultimately helping to develop a skilled workforce ready for careers in energy and manufacturing.

Equitable Access to Opportunities for Learning, Training, and Re-Training Throughout Individuals’ Working Lives

RAND Education and Labor researchers are examining how best to provide students with a broad base of fundamental skills, as well as exposure to career and technical education that will prepare them for the world of work. In addition, we are considering alternative funding models that can more equitably distribute costs of continuing education and training among individuals, employers, and taxpayers.

Matching and Re-matching Individuals with Jobs to Which They and Their Skills are Well-suited

Recent graduates often find it difficult to make the transition from school to the workforce, as employers often want to hire workers with previous experience. RAND Education and Labor researchers are working in partnership with employers, education and training providers, and other stakeholders to better-align education and training curricula with labor market needs, and to facilitate the school-to-workforce transition. At the same time, many experienced workers find that their current skills are no longer in need, but there are no clearly defined pathways for them to quickly adapt and acquire new skills. Our work has examined new mechanisms to support greater job and career mobility, as well as the needs of freelancers in the growing “gig” economy.

Recent Publications

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