Pathways to Better Jobs

Pathways to Better Jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic produced widespread economic collapse, exposing and exacerbating many pre-existing challenges and barriers that low- and moderate-income workers face to achieve financial security and upward mobility.

In April 2020, unemployment rates peaked nationally at 14.8 percent. While overall reported trends indicate that unemployment caused by the pandemic is decreasing with a national reported U-3 unemployment rate of 4.1 percent (unemployed people actively seeking a job) in April 2022, this number does not paint a complete picture of the economic distress that some groups are experiencing. As of April 2022, the U-6 unemployment rate was 7.9 percent (discouraged, underemployed, and unemployed workers), and we continued to see disparate impacts in Black (7.3 percent) and Latino (4.9 percent) worker populations compared to White (3.6 percent) workers.

Furthermore, between February and March 2020, 11 million women lost their jobs compared to 9 million men and an additional 2.65 million women left the workforce due to caretaking demands or inability to find accommodating employment. Alarmingly, over two years later, the women’s workforce participation rate has not recovered and in fact has decreased even further, with an additional 275,000 women leaving the workforce in January 2022, placing the women’s workforce participation rate at 57 percent, a record low since 1988.


Read the Press Release

In response, Convergence launched the Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs. This Dialogue seeks to address why millions of job seekers – low- to moderate-income earners who are currently employed, under-employed, or long-term unemployed – are unable to access and navigate resources, tools, and opportunities to move into new, improved, and stable avenues of employment.

The Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs brings together a diverse and influential group of stakeholders representing workers, workforce trainers, policymakers, employers, and post-secondary education providers of all types. This collaborative, problem-solving process is aimed at building trust and identifying and exploring areas of common ground to foster innovations that balance worker needs with those of employers.

Convergence’s goal is to find ways to better connect workers with appropriate opportunities to build their skills and qualifications, and to navigate the on- and off-ramps that will build economic mobility and financial security for their future. This builds on two previous Convergence efforts around economic mobility and security: ‘Working Up’ which focused on finding ways to reduce America’s opportunity gap and identify solutions to help lower-income Americans achieve upward mobility; and ‘Economic Recovery for America’s Workers’ a short-term mandate that aims to address the wide-ranging economic issues brought on and exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Pathways Dialogue represents a continuation, and evolution, of these discussions that will focus on two specific pathways that can lead to better jobs:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Associate Degrees, Technical and Certificate Programs



Pathways to Better Jobs Framing Paper

For more insight into the backdrop of the Dialogue and data gathered during the Assessment Phase, please read the Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs framing paper. The Framing Paper outlines the need for the Dialogue, where participants will focus their discussions, and where we see potential roadways forward.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together across political, ideological, sectoral, and other divides to advance short-, medium-, and long-term solutions on behalf of America’s workers and businesses, and to safeguard against future detrimental and destabilizing events.

For more information about the project, please contact:

Anita Chandramohan, Director, Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs

To invest in this project, please contact:

Anjali Singh Code, Chief Development Officer