NLC Project Targets Workforce Development

Article excerpt

As President Clinton prepares to sign a comprehensive new workforce training bill into law, NLC has launched a new project to aid cities in developing strategies to help move people from poverty to well-paying jobs with a future.

Susan Rosenblum has joined the NLC staff to manage the three-year project, which will work with cities to develop, assess and document the effectiveness of various local workforce development strategies to reduce poverty. She served as former Mayor Harold Washington's assistant director for strategic planning in the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training in Chicago and has conducted numerous evaluation studies of national education and job training programs.

The work is being supported by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation an6 the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The new project, Workforce Development for Poverty Reduction, will build upon and extend several aspects of NLC's research and collaborative work with cities in matters involving local economic activity, workforce development and poverty reduction. Activities will include working with teams of municipal officials, business and community leaders in several cities to develop and implement strategies to strengthen connections to good-paying jobs for the poor.

"Our cities are working hard, and often successfully, to attract new business activities and industrial development, such as the international shipbuilding venture envisioned for our old naval shipyard," said NLC President Brian O'Neill, councilman of Philadelphia.

"But unemployed city residents often lack the skills, formal education and support services needed for them to obtain and maintain themselves in jobs that can offer the prospect of enough earnings and benefits to support a family. No city can afford to let such conditions persist. Linking workforce development with economic development can be an important key to reducing urban poverty," he said.

The project will highlight collaborative strategies that cities are using to move people out of poverty into living-wage jobs. Examples of strategies include school-to-work programs; post-employment education, training and support services such as child care; use of living wage ordinances and "first source" hiring agreements; and regional linkages for employment, including "reverse commute" transportation. …