Good Jobs for All: How Federal Laws Can Create Pathways From Education and Training to Good Jobs

Despite the billions of {dollars} that the federal authorities spends every year on schooling and workforce coaching, schooling and labor market outcomes stay inequitable. For instance, not all college students graduate from highschool, and even after they do, most are ineligible for their postsecondary coaching program of alternative. Research exhibits that college students don’t obtain enough details about what careers can be found and which programs greatest lead to these choices, in order that they waste time in programs that don’t lead to good jobs. What’s extra, it’s not clear how efficient public workforce applications are at elevating wages and growing entry to higher jobs.

These poor outcomes partially consequence from how Congress buildings and funds federal Ok-12 schooling, increased schooling, and workforce legal guidelines. For instance, despite the fact that federal laws ought to assist college students obtain the identical long-term final result of getting a superb job, these legal guidelines have totally different functions, are on totally different timelines, and the funds they supply can be utilized in all kinds of ways. These variations create challenges in designing coordinated schooling and profession coaching applications. Furthermore, federal legal guidelines don’t maintain colleges, faculties, and workforce coaching applications accountable for the standard of jobs college students obtain because of their education. Every 12 months, tens of millions of highschool college students graduate however are unprepared for faculty or careers. As a consequence, many college students who enter postsecondary coaching don’t earn a level. Similarly, many employees enrolled in workforce coaching applications in the end discover employment in low-quality, dead-end jobs.

Improving long-term outcomes requires a brand new strategy that hyperlinks all these programs with a unified imaginative and prescient the place college and coaching programs lead to employment in good jobs.

This difficulty transient recommends that federal legal guidelines take a unified strategy to construct pathways to higher jobs. Specifically, Congress ought to:

  • Align the reauthorization schedule with federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines with out creating legislative gridlock.
  • Create a standard algorithm and practices round defining high quality.
  • Create parameters for job high quality which can be included in federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines.
  • Align key legislative parts of federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines with good jobs.
  • Require states to implement federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines collaboratively throughout the schooling and workforce coaching programs.

These suggestions are knowledgeable by conversations with native leaders in schooling and workforce coaching applications throughout the nation in order that they will higher reply to the real-time wants of scholars and employees.

Defining “good jobs”

The Center for American Progress has outlined good jobs as “the sort of jobs that afford financial safety and participation in civic life as opposed to occupations that require few expertise, pay low wages, or are susceptible to outsourcing.” However, others on this coverage area have developed ways to measure and outline job high quality that add larger dimension to this broad definition. The matter of job high quality has additionally turn out to be a priority for worldwide organizations; for instance, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development created a job high quality framework that features the working atmosphere. Moreover, federal legal guidelines have enacted some measures talking to job high quality, together with employee security, help for equal pay, prevention of discrimination, and the proper to kind unions. And there are some job high quality requirements connected to federal apprenticeships and different federal job spending to help non-public sector jobs, similar to prevailing wage legal guidelines and anti-discrimination protections. However, these measures don’t go far sufficient to make sure that federal applications lead to good jobs.

No single federal legislation associated to schooling, coaching, or employment speaks straight to this extra strong definition of excellent jobs. But every of them, to various levels, contains measures associated to job high quality. For extra info on how some present legal guidelines deal with varied features of job high quality, see the Appendix.

Despite loads of analysis and follow on defining and creating good jobs, present federal legal guidelines supporting schooling, coaching, and the workforce give attention to merely attaining jobs reasonably than prioritizing high quality employment. Simply put, with out larger consideration, these applications won’t essentially make sure that college students and employees qualify for good jobs. If federal legal guidelines centered extra on job high quality, they might each promote consistency throughout applications and create larger accountability for college students and employees to receive good jobs. Such a spotlight would permit states to use federal funds collectively to create coordinated schooling and coaching in Ok-12 colleges, postsecondary institutes, and job placement applications, thereby elevating the standard of the providers they supply.

Factors similar to price of residing and distance between jobs and housing are included within the varied job high quality frameworks talked about above. Therefore, native context dictates what “good jobs” in the end appear like. One strategy to account for a variety of things in defining good native jobs can be making a a number of measures dashboard, which CAP has beforehand advisable.

Using job high quality to break down silos in federal legal guidelines for schooling, coaching, and workforce growth

All too typically, insurance policies are created and carried out in silos. Ok-12 schooling, increased schooling, and workforce legal guidelines aren’t any totally different. For instance, the time period “job high quality” doesn’t seem within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Higher Education Act, or the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—three of probably the most important federal legal guidelines supporting schooling and coaching. Until Congress updates these legal guidelines to assist college students and employees get good jobs, the U.S. economic system will proceed to depart tens of millions of individuals behind by means of an ever-growing hole between the rich and the poor.

While there are numerous items to federal laws, introductory statements may make clear Congress’ intent to shut this hole. Specifically, the statements of objective and definitions in laws can deal with the vary of schooling and workforce elements influencing job high quality and focus on how jobs have an effect on high quality of life. For instance, the standard of an individual’s job impacts their capacity to present for themselves and their household.

Job high quality will also be addressed by means of different elements of federal legislation, similar to reporting and accountability—a time period that refers to program outcomes. This may assist make sure that applications do the truth is lead to college students and employees getting good jobs and that these outcomes are precisely and persistently reported.

Harmonizing legislative elements throughout these associated coverage areas might help college students and employees simply transition from schooling and coaching into good jobs. Specifically, crafting frequent provisions and utilizing comparable language about job high quality helps combine it as a aim throughout programs.

Components of present workforce legislation—similar to unified planning throughout core applications in a state and frequent efficiency accountability measures for a number of legal guidelines with comparable goals—illustrate how to assist foster collaboration among the many totally different state places of work finishing up parts of those legal guidelines. For instance, the Carl D. Perkins Act requires state plans to comprise details about how the state’s profession and technical schooling actions shall be coordinated with state actions beneath WIOA and ESSA. And each Perkins and WIOA should align coaching applications with native labor market wants and in-demand jobs.

While these examples present how Congress directs states to coordinate their schooling and coaching actions, the legal guidelines are much less clear about how these applications lead to contributors getting good jobs and how they measure that consequence.

Questions on job high quality for native leaders of schooling and workforce coaching applications

The authors met with leaders in state governments, third-party service supplier organizations, and Ok-12 colleges to ask 5 questions associated to job high quality, which sought to reply how job high quality affected program design and, if it didn’t, why. The interview questions utilized in these conversations are listed beneath:

  • What makes a superb job?
  • How are these defining traits/qualities constructed into your strategy to making ready college students for these jobs or for additional coaching?
  • Within your work (or program), what circumstances want to be in place to guarantee the educational that takes place prepares college students for a superb job? How about within the classroom—what does that appear like?
  • Research suggests a relationship between youth underemployment, unemployment, and poor later labor market outcomes within the type of decrease expertise or coaching, decreased wages, and weakened labor drive participation sooner or later. Are there sure insurance policies or practices that goal to guarantee improved longer- or shorter-term labor market impacts/employment outcomes?
  • Research additionally suggests a connection between labor market participation and civic participation. Are there sure insurance policies or practices that goal to assist your college students turn out to be productive residents?

A framework to promote a high-quality job for all college students and employees

While getting a superb job is necessary, there aren’t any frequent requirements for job high quality, nor are there incentives for schooling and coaching applications to enhance pathways to good jobs. Current efforts to put together all college students and employees for good jobs give attention to college students and employees enhancing their expertise reasonably than addressing the power points that lead to earnings inequality. However, enhancing employees’ expertise will do nothing to eliminate low-wage, low-quality jobs.

While all federal schooling and workforce insurance policies are comparable, they don’t seem to be the identical. To assist manage and classify job quality-related info and dimensions based mostly on these similarities and variations, this difficulty transient provides a three-part framework with the next goals:

  1. Define high quality
  2. Manage and govern applications for high quality
  3. Require decision-making processes to be based mostly on job high quality

How to outline high quality

Defining high quality should deal with two parts. First, applications should put together college students and employees not solely to enter into good jobs but additionally adapt to the altering wants of the workforce. Second, program service suppliers, employers, and authorities businesses should additionally develop consensus on the definition of a superb job, which can have frequent classes similar to a livable wage no matter {industry} however differ within the particulars by {industry}, geographic space, and native price of residing.

The authors’ conversations with leaders of faculties and workforce coaching applications provide perception into how the present setup of those applications fall quick. “We’re solely getting the solutions to the questions we’re asking,” mentioned one third-party service supplier. He defined that what’s lacking amongst these programs is that applications can not adapt rapidly to labor market circumstances, which might assist drive the Ok-12 schooling, increased schooling, workforce, and even financial growth ecosystem “to give attention to good jobs.” Thus, if program service suppliers requested how they might put together college students for good native jobs, the solutions would probably require adjustments to how they strategy their work. For instance, he talked about how the Affordable Care Act modified how the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services paid medical suppliers; it started basing funds on requirements for high quality of care, not simply the availability of care. Thus, these suppliers had to show that they supplied high-quality care to be paid for their providers. To make his level, the supplier mentioned, “by design, Congress aimed for higher integration of care, higher designed providers … higher measurement instruments.”

In different phrases, Congress should construct incentives and necessities inside Ok-12 schooling, increased schooling, and workforce growth legal guidelines to present an incentive for these programs to present providers that profit the long-term outcomes of scholars.

How to handle applications for high quality

The authors interviewed a frontrunner of 1 statewide group that coordinates a profession preparation system operating in all areas of the state. He  pressured the issue of managing the standard of coaching in these applications as a result of choices are made by regional leaders, not centrally. However, he mentioned the group does require a evaluate group to regionally endorse applications to present some assurance that coaching applications meet minimal standards. Additionally, this entity asks for areas to submit letters from employers. The letters say that program graduates can be certified for entry-level jobs, although they don’t assure employment.

How to govern federal applications for high quality

The Medicaid-managed care mannequin described above provides one other instance of how to create a decision-making mannequin on the company degree based mostly on high quality requirements. For instance, the federal rules handed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on managed care embody necessities that strengthen the standard of care supplied to Medicaid beneficiaries and promote simpler use of knowledge in overseeing managed care applications. In explicit, these rules created well being care governing boards and made them accountable for making certain quality-of-care compliance in any respect ranges of service. This is only one instance of how to govern a federal program for high quality.


The following suggestions element particular actions Congress can take to emphasize job high quality throughout federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines. Congress ought to seek the advice of with educators, employees, and staff to get their enter on these adjustments:

  • Congress ought to align the reauthorization schedule with federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines with out creating legislative gridlock. One important barrier to making a complementary set of legal guidelines and rules that help pathways to good jobs is the totally different time intervals over which these legal guidelines are put in force. For instance, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which accommodates a provision to require postsecondary transition plans for college students with disabilities, has not been up to date since 2004.

    Meanwhile, ESSA was due for updating in 2019 and WIOA was due for updating in 2014. Congress up to date the Carl. D Perkins Act in 2018. Putting these legal guidelines on the identical timeline for revision with out creating extra alternatives for gridlock would help practitioners, coverage consultants, advocates, and lawmakers in contemplating adjustments to create consistency throughout these legal guidelines.

  • Congress ought to create a standard algorithm and practices round defining high quality. Specifically, it ought to decide how native applications are managed for high quality and how native governments maintain applications accountable for assembly high quality requirements inside schooling and workforce legal guidelines. Additionally, federal businesses ought to create rules that additionally emphasize high quality.
  • Congress ought to create parameters for job high quality which can be included in federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines. Because job high quality is an elusive idea, definitions set boundaries. Lawmakers ought to craft legislative textual content in payments to convey a acknowledged objective or intention of job high quality, in addition to restrict allowable actions for applications that promote attainment of a superb job. This would in flip assist convey the significance of job high quality to businesses and practitioners throughout the schooling and workforce growth ecosystem as they perform these applications. Knowing what a statutory time period or phrase similar to job high quality means would a minimum of give federal and state businesses an understanding of what coverage circumstances lead to schooling and workforce program actions that lead to a superb job. For instance, the legal guidelines may require states to undertake job high quality metrics that assess the variations between good jobs and dangerous jobs and would assist maintain applications accountable for program outcomes.

    In the absence of—or as well as to—congressional motion, even with out renewed legal guidelines, the departments of Education and Labor can observe how their rules do or don’t deal with job high quality and take steps to bridge the hole by issuing nonregulatory steering.

  • Congress ought to align key legislative parts of federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines with good jobs. Creating job high quality pathways throughout the schooling and workforce ecosystem requires shared insurance policies for figuring out how good jobs must be represented. For instance, Congress should set up what occasions generally qualify for public funding, which entities can be eligible to apply for these assets, and who can take part in program providers. These adjustments to the legislation will imply that state businesses and native applications will perform their tasks in a different way as a result of they need to concentrate to how nicely their providers lead to the tip aim of a superb job.

    Additionally, because the departments of Labor and Education perform these legal guidelines, they need to develop rules, steering, monitoring, and technical help that align with a brand new federal authorized framework that ends in college students and employees getting good jobs.

  • Congress ought to require states to implement federal schooling and workforce growth legal guidelines collaboratively throughout the schooling and workforce coaching programs. Effectively finishing up job high quality tasks inside and throughout programs requires sturdy management. To set up a governing framework that places job quality-related points on the heart of decision-making, there should be three-part cooperation and session amongst representatives of enterprise, {industry}, and Ok-12 and increased schooling. They ought to give attention to future earnings or earnings positive aspects, employment advantages, office protections, and different points that have an effect on financial well-being. In order to achieve this, they need to acknowledge how the labor market at the moment leads to inequality—by design—and the necessity to embody and defend all employees.

    Defining and establishing job high quality as the final word final result of federal schooling and coaching legal guidelines is the connective tissue wanted to create constant, streamlined pathways to good jobs. However, so as for the proposed give attention to job high quality to be significant, any new laws and reforms should be developed by means of neighborhood suggestions to make sure that they meet native wants.


In the longer term, CAP will proceed to generate concepts for how to construct a system of linked federal schooling and coaching legal guidelines and rules based mostly on job high quality. Creating this consistency will assist to form the workforce in ways that present good jobs for all and assist get rid of inequality.

Laura Jimenez is the director of Standards and Accountability for Ok-12 Education on the Center for American Progress. Livia Lam is a senior fellow on the Center.


Below is a listing of most federal legal guidelines inside the ecosystem of Ok-12 schooling, postsecondary schooling and coaching, and workforce growth.

The Every Student Succeeds Act supplies supplementary funding to colleges serving low-income college students. Its job quality-related parts embody 4 features. First, states should undertake tutorial requirements that certify pupil readiness for postsecondary schooling. Second, states’ profession schooling requirements should align with these tutorial requirements. Third, colleges are rated, partially, on pupil outcomes on these requirements. Fourth, states should report postsecondary enrollment charges.

The Education Sciences and Reform Act established the Institute for Education Sciences, which homes 4 analysis facilities. These embody the National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and the National Center for Special Education Research. Additionally, the legislation authorizes the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Education Technical Assistance Act.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act supplies supplementary schooling for college students with disabilities and contains two job quality-related parts. It requires college students with disabilities to obtain transition providers designed to facilitate the transition to postschool actions, together with workforce coaching, postsecondary schooling, and jobs. These providers should give attention to the educational and practical achievement of the coed. Additionally, the legislation requires that each one college students with disabilities are taught to the identical tutorial requirements required by ESSA.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, generally referred to as Perkins V, helps profession and technical schooling (CTE) on the secondary and postsecondary schooling ranges. Perkins V applies job quality-related parts by requiring CTE coaching applications to assist college students acquire technical expertise and earn industry-recognized credentials, certificates, or postsecondary levels which can be aligned with native labor market wants and in-demand occupations.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act supplies a mix of job placement and job coaching actions to adults, dislocated employees, and youth employees looking for employment and which can be responsive to the calls for of employers. Regarding job high quality, WIOA makes a number of necessities. For instance, the general public workforce system should assess its effectiveness in serving to contributors get and hold jobs. WIOA additionally requires applications to report earnings of people collaborating in actions similar to job search help, profession counseling, occupational expertise coaching, classroom coaching, or on-the-job coaching. On the employer aspect, WIOA additionally requires these actions to be aligned with the wants of in-demand jobs and industries as decided by state and native workforce boards.

WIOA additionally reauthorized three different legal guidelines:

  • The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act is the first federal legislation supporting primary instructional providers for adults, together with English-language instruction.
  • The Wagner-Peyser Act helps the employment search course of between job seekers and employers by offering job search help, profession counseling, labor market info, and different employment providers.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 addresses problems with employment discrimination in opposition to people with disabilities by means of devoted funding for job preparation and different vocational rehabilitation providers.

The Higher Education Act is the first legislation governing postsecondary teaching programs, together with federal assist applications such because the Pell Grant for low-income college students pursuing increased schooling and federal funding for faculties and universities. It additionally requires all profession teaching programs receiving federal pupil assist to “put together college students for gainful employment in a acknowledged occupation.” According to this legislation , so as for increased teaching programs to meet a typical of gainful employment, schooling and coaching ought to put together college students to earn sufficient to repay their loans.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) governs job coaching for employees whose jobs had been affected by international commerce. Specifically, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workforce program supplies funding for reemployment providers, together with case administration, profession providers, weekly earnings help funds, and wage insurance coverage whereas eligible TAA employees are enrolled in this system. In explicit, using job coaching advantages should lead to a level or certification.


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