It has been a tumultuous wave for the U.S. economy over the last few years – from inflation and labor shortages to housing market pressures – and like many of you, we at Convergence are eager to identify solutions to the most urgent issues facing America’s workers and employers.
That’s why we launched the Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs; to bring leaders of divergent views together to find areas for collaboration and identify a workable path forward. The Pathways Dialogue 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 goal of this project 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.
The Dialogue is off to a promising start and the 28 participants have gathered several times since the project launched in May 2022. (If you’re new to the Convergence Dialogue process, you can learn more about our evidence-based, consensus-building method here.)
These initial meetings focused on clarifying the Dialogue’s goals, developing trust and relationships among all participants, understanding the range of stakeholder perspectives, and identifying core focus areas where the group can provide meaningful added value to the policy conversations around improving economic mobility; we broke down short- and long-term economic trends to see where we can have the most impact and determined that the Dialogue will focus on how to help more workers hold jobs with better opportunities for growth.
Our initial discussions have centered around what has changed – or not – regarding the priorities of workers, employers, and skill-building institutions since the onset of the pandemic, and some responses that have made an early impact. Worker voice, community-based partnerships, and “earn-and-learn” opportunities were common themes during the discussion.
Additionally, we devoted a lot of time to creating and refining our worker profile to determine which workers are facing the most significant challenges and are in the most need of support in reaching better jobs. We zeroed in on the toughest barriers for workers and deepened our understanding of the long- and short-term employment, economic, and workforce trends that are impacting the unemployed and underemployed low- and moderate-income workers in our profile.
The dialogue table is now turning its attention to how to address the core problem of helping more workers hold jobs with better opportunities for growth. There is a good base of work already established in this space, so our Dialogue will build on the excellent work already out there and focus on areas where this specific group of stakeholders will be able to contribute real added value.
Working groups for this Dialogue convened their first meetings in late August, and took a deep dive into three specific topics:
- Foundational skills
- Earn-and-learn models
- Employer-led solutions
Members are continuing to build trust and relationships through collaboration and are beginning to identify where unexpected partnerships might form.
The Convergence team continues to work diligently to host meaningful meetings and empower participants to seek solutions that will have the greatest impact on our nation’s workforce. We look forward to upcoming meetings and digging into the specific areas where we can start to identify points of impact.
Director, Convergence Dialogue on Pathways to Better Jobs
Convergence Center for Policy Resolution