National Skills Coalition Releases Report on Advancing Racial Equity in Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development

September 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. — National Skills Coalition today released a new report –The Roadmap for Racial Equity: An imperative for workforce development advocates– which explores the racial and ethnic disparities in educational attainment and access; highlights the systemic barriers to equitable workforce training and quality employment; and explains why advancing racial equity is an economic and moral imperative.

Latinx immigrants are the least likely to have attained an associate degree or higher, with only 15 percent of adults reaching that threshold, followed by Native Americans (24 percent), and U.S.-born Black people (27 percent). Meanwhile, White immigrants (55 percent) and U.S.-born White people (45 percent) are substantially more likely to have attained an associate degree or higher. There are significant racial and ethnic inequities in employment and wages as well.

“Public policy decisions play a key role in forming the racial inequities in educational attainment, employment, and wages, as well as in systems that impact people of color’s access and outcomes in postsecondary education and training. Therefore, public policies must be an integral part of the solution,” the report states.

The Roadmap recommends nine workforce policy solutions to advance racial equity:

  1. Adopt racial equity goals in postsecondary education and workforce development plans and develop strategies to reach those goals

  2. Invest in infrastructure, technical assistance, and guidance for frontline workforce development and postsecondary career counseling staff to ensure that their efforts consciously address racial disparities

  3. Expand career pathways and stackable postsecondary credentials of value, job-driven and need-based financial aid, and tuition equity policies that ensure undocumented students pay the same in-state tuition rates as their documented peers

  4. Remove barriers to correctional education and training by advancing policies such as Second Chance Pell and increasing state funding for correctional education

  5. Invest in sector partnerships to help address occupational segregation and make hiring practices more equitable

  6. Invest in apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs to create formal on-ramps for workers to employers looking to hire

  7. Implement upskilling policies for adults with foundational skills gaps

  8. Invest in support services — like child care, food and transportation assistance — for education and training participants

  9. Remove work requirements and education and training restrictions in public assistance programs

Research shows that more than 25 percent of the growth in US economic productivity between 1960 and 2008 was associated with reducing occupational barriers for Black people and women. Research also confirms that the economy would have been $2.5 trillion larger in 2015 had there been no racial gaps in income. Developing fairer workforce policies is more important now than ever. By 2030, people of color will make up more than half of our nation’s workforce. This increase in America’s racial diversity is an opportunity to embrace racial equity as an economic and moral imperative.

“Advancing racial equity in workforce training is good for our economy and is also the right thing to do,” the report states. “Our society will be truly fair and just when people of every race and ethnicity have what they need to thrive, and can contribute to their highest and best potential, no matter the color of their skin or where they live.”

The authors of the report are Molly Bashay (State Policy Analyst), Amanda Bergson-Shilcock (Senior Fellow), and Melissa Johnson (State Policy Director).

Click here to read the Roadmap for Racial Equity