LTE: Focusing on Evidence to Strengthen Workforce Development

Earlier this month, Tracy Palandjian, CEO and cofounder of America Forward Coalition member Social Finance, and Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts and a board member of Social Finance, wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe about how new, high-quality workforce training programs are essential not only to the health of our economy, but to the wellbeing of workers, families, and communities, and to the strength of our democracy.

In response to the op-ed, America Forward Executive Director Deborah Smolover wrote the following letter to the editor of the Globe:

In “Needed: An overhaul of how workers are trained and educated,” Tracy Palandjian and Deval Patrick make a compelling case for the importance of intentional, inclusive workforce training. We couldn’t agree more. 

And, in order to achieve the vision that the authors describe, it’s essential that we bring to the table proximate leaders and organizations focused on using evidence to strengthen workforce development and economic mobility in communities across the country. 

Palandjian and Governor Patrick reference a key challenge, writing “Well-intentioned state and federal agencies spend billions on programs without knowing what results they are actually producing.” Community-focused organizations like Year Up – a participant in the Google Career Certificates Fund – not only represent effective, scalable models, but reflect a growing commitment to generating evidence to guide critical resources and ensure that the impact of training programs is positive and sustainable for both participants and local economies.

To improve our workforce development system in the long run – and realize all the attendant benefits that it brings individuals and communities – we need to scale proven models and invest in strong evidence and data frameworks that enable us to identify new, effective approaches. This type of investment in evidence-based programs can be game-changing where it’s needed most.

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