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Satya Rhodes-Conway, Peter Bailon, Sam Munger, Chris Reynolds | Jul 22, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, High Road, Transportation, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
The District of Columbia is going through a period of great transformation. While it has successfully strengthened its fiscal health and its economy and population have grown, its prosperity has not been evenly distributed. However, it is not too late for the District to adopt measures that strengthen low income communities and communities of color and push back against the trend of growing inequality. The new administration has a fresh opportunity to tackle these challenges. It will be essential that key leaders in the administration are driven by a strong vision for how to make the District work for all of its residents.
Laura Dresser and Jody Knauss | Jun 29, 2015
Category: COWS

The purpose of this paper is to provide an accessible overview of child care with a special focus on the child care workforce in the United States in 2014. The broad questions that guide this document are:

• What does the industry “look like”? What does this mean for workers in
child care?

• How has it changed and not changed over recent decades? And how have
the skills and pay of workers changed, or not?

• What are the strongest ways to enhance workers’ skills and wages building
around an agenda of quality care and quality jobs for the future in child

Winnie Karanja, Laura Dresser, and Michele Mackey | Jun 09, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin
The national economic recovery is gaining speed and Wisconsin workers and firms are increasingly feeling the relief, and the state’s ability to build industry-needed skills of the workforce is becoming an increasingly critical shared priority. Workers have jobs but need stronger skills. Firms need a skilled workforce that can adapt
as opportunity evolves. Fortunately, an impressive infrastructure to support the development of workers skills has taken shape over the last decade in Wisconsin. Critical here is the strong but perhaps too little known work of the state’s technical colleges in paving the pathways from basic skills to meaningful credentials. Also essential have been efforts to build stronger connections to employers through training funds like Fast Forward, through the development of industry partnerships within regions, and through the increasing connection of career pathways at tech colleges to unmet and emerging industry needs.

For Wisconsin workers and employers to thrive in the 21st Century, this critical progress in skills and talent infrastructure must be supported, connected, amplified and extended. Wisconsin is a national leader – in career pathways, in tech college training for displaced and other workers, and in industry/employer driven training investments in the “Fast Forward” grant program for demand-driven training). This infrastructure can help connect the unemployed to work, the underemployed to the skills they need to move toward self-sufficiency, and the state’s employers to relevant strategies for developing their own workers’ skills as well. This infrastructure is critical for advancing Wisconsin’s competitive position and for providing low-wage workers a stronger pathway to self-sustaining jobs.

This paper provides an overview of these programs and initiatives, the need for them, and opportunities to strengthen them. Our focus is building on Wisconsin’s strengths so that opportunity and career pathways can yield improved outcomes for low-skilled workers while simultaneously meeting the skill needs of employers in the state.
Samira Salem, Laura Dresser, and Michele Mackey | Jun 09, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin
In 2013, Wisconsin launched Fast Forward, a $15 million state investment in demand driven worker training. By mid-December 2014, the Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) worker training program planned to distribute approximately $10.4 million in worker training grants and was preparing to announce additional grants for the remaining nearly $3.6 million. Fast Forward is an unprecedented investment in Wisconsin and skills. It is an exciting step forward to build the skills that both workers and employers need in this state. Direct employer engagement in all stages of the WFF process helps ensure the relevance of the skills training delivered.

With this brief, we seek to offer some assessment of WFF’s experience to date, to identify ways that it meets its critical goals, and to propose relevant areas for refinement and other improvement of practice and policy. We will pay special attention to the way this program fits into the broader policy and program context for skills in the state. The sustainability and system impact of these investments will be amplified by steps that ensure WFF is integrated into the state’s skills ecosystem, rather than a stand-alone program outside of it. 
Chris McCahill and Satya Rhodes-Conway | May 20, 2015
Category: State & Local Policy, Transportation
Parking has been a contentious policy focus in cities and towns around the United States for decades. Residents, visitors, and business owners often lament what they see as parking shortages or unfair prices. Meanwhile, surface lots and parking garages have chipped away at once vibrant urban centers, taking up what is often the most valuable land in the region. Undoubtedly, parking is an important asset to many American cities and, as such, should be viewed as an integral piece of the each city’s transportation and land use system. However, like any land use or any piece of transportation infrastructure, it must be managed properly to ensure it works efficiently and adds value to the community. City officials can accomplish this by leveraging municipally owned parking—both on-street and off—and by regulating and taxing privately owned parking.
H-CAP and COWS | May 06, 2015
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies
Across the country, Healthcare Training Funds – joint programs of labor and management, bargained and administered at the local and regional level – have developed an impressive and growing core of work. From a core of SEIU locals and employers, mostly from the hospital sector, H-CAP and the related H-CAP Education Association (EA), have convened a network that has grown into a force with reach, experience, and impact not conceived of when the project began. The participating partnerships and training funds/organizations in aggregate now reach 900 healthcare providers in every setting of healthcare – from home health, to long term care, to clinics and hospitals – and nearly 600,000 workers from every occupational level in the healthcare industry. This paper provides an introduction to one of workforce development's most innovative programs across the nation.

Joel Rogers | Mar 26, 2015
Category: High Road

"Productive Democracy," The Nation (150th Anniversary Issue) 400 (April 6, 2015): 206-210.


Why we need a new egalitarian politics - and why a social democracy will never get us there.

Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS | Jan 27, 2015
Category: Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy

Wisconsin’s growth and prosperity are not being widely shared. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, while Wisconsinites not among the very highest earners saw little or no income growth. In 2012, Wisconsin reached a milestone, with a record share of income going to the top 1%.


Full report HERE.

Laura Dresser, Michele Mackey, and Chris Reynolds | Dec 17, 2014
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

Vital Signs 2014 is a regional economic review for the Incourage Community Foundation. This economic analysis summarizes the most recent data to help focus discussions and decision-making on economic growth and opportunity in south Wood County. From schools to employers, wages to social supports, and employment to homelessness, COWS offers data that provides a shared understanding of where south Wood County is, and where it can improve.


View Vital Signs 2013 and Vital Signs 2012 here.

Sarah White and Todd Cohen | Dec 02, 2014
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy

This guide frames a broad public-private conversation on climate resiliency, community health, and economic inclusiveness. Developed by COWS in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center, Climate Resiliency & The Community College defines climate resilience and its implications for jobs and training; outlines emerging opportunities to engage in related work; and lifts up examples of innovation and best practice across a variety of economic sectors, including health, energy, water, and emergency response.