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Defining and Measuring Workforce Development in the United States in a Post-Bipartisan Era


  • Holland, Brian


The bipartisan acceptance of a federal role in workforce development policy is no longer in play as a result of ideological differences in the definition of workforce development which arise from a lack of coherent and misunderstood outcomes. My attempt here is to posit a new definition for workforce development that explains what these activities actually are and to raise three criteria for outcome metrics that can be used to evaluate the success of workforce investment under this new definition. By suggesting the process of workforce development and by proposing metric criteria which we can use to measure progress, I believe that a new bipartisan consensus can re-emerge, while recognizing the limitations of federal public expenditure. This consensus can, then, be used to generate a more appreciative role of active labor market policy at the national level using a process-evaluation model.

Suggested Citation

  • Holland, Brian, 2018. "Defining and Measuring Workforce Development in the United States in a Post-Bipartisan Era," GLO Discussion Paper Series 234, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:234

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ronald W. McQuaid & Colin Lindsay, 2005. "The Concept of Employability," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 42(2), pages 197-219, February.
    2. Robert P. Giloth, 2000. "Learning from the Field: Economic Growth and Workforce Development in the 1990s," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 14(4), pages 340-359, November.
    3. Peck, Jamie & Theodore, Nikolas, 2000. "Commentary: 'Work First': Workfare and the Regulation of Contingent Labour Markets," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 119-138, January.
    4. Nan L. Maxwell, 2006. "The Working Life: The Labor Market for Workers in Low-Skilled Jobs," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number twl, December.
    5. Stuart Andreason & Ann Carpenter, 2015. "Fragmentation in workforce development and efforts to coordinate regional workforce development systems," FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper 2015-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Nichola Lowe & Harvey Goldstein & Mary Donegan, 2011. "Patchwork Intermediation: Challenges and Opportunities for Regionally Coordinated Workforce Development," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 25(2), pages 158-171, May.
    7. Randall W. Eberts & Christopher J. O'Leary & Stephen A. Wandner (ed.), 2002. "Targeting Employment Services," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number tes, December.
    8. Robert J. LaLonde, 1995. "The Promise of Public Sector-Sponsored Training Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 149-168, Spring.
    9. Laura Wolf-Powers, 2012. "Human-capital-centred Regionalism in Economic Development: A Case of Analytics Outpacing Institutions?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 49(15), pages 3427-3446, November.
    10. Brian Holland, 2016. "Both sides now: Toward the dual customer approach under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in the United States," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 31(3), pages 424-441, May.
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    More about this item


    Workforce development; employability; public policy; outcomes framework; process-evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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