White papers for the 2016 UIC Urban Forum:
The purpose of the overview white paper is to explore the changing dynamics of the quality of the labor force today and the challenges for maintaining and growing labor productivity in the future. Wages for high school graduates have remained flat, while college graduates have enjoyed a growth in wages/salaries over the past 30 years. What are the key drivers of growing a well-prepared and adequate work force for the immediate and longer-term future? What are the challenges to the labor force of today and tomorrow? What public policies have been adopted to address the shifts and changes in labor force productivity? How fluid and prepared is labor in meeting the market demands?
Migration/Immigration: Macro economic theory contends that labor will flow to sectors with high needs and that migration of people to those areas where high-need industries are located is a logical process. Although migration can be induced by non-economic forces (e.g., war, famine), this paper’s focus is on economic-induced migration. The paper should explore the migrations of the past , including the Great Migration from the south, migration from Mexico and Central America, and the industrial migration from Europe. The paper should explore the current issues over immigration as they pertain to the quality of labor, citizenship, and social inclusion.
Post-secondary education: President Obama raised the visibility and importance of community colleges in preparing the workforce for the 21st century. What are the challenges of meeting the demands of industry with a trained workforce that would minimally require 2 years of post-high school training? To what extent can increased training via community colleges meet the needs of the globalizing economy? Who or what segment of society bears the costs of such investments, and who or what segment benefits from a post-secondary policy? President Obama has stressed that he would support ‘free’ tuition to community colleges. This white paper will explore the issues, controversies and ideas surrounding access to community colleges and preparing the workforce of tomorrow.
Jobs, Wages, working conditions and public policy. The purpose of this white paper is to examine the quality of the labor force as it has been shaped and molded by public policy. In particular, the paper will examine historically the creation of federal programs that protected workplace safety, minimum wages, overtime, collective bargaining, etc. that affected the quality of labor in the US. Contemporary debates over local (and state) minimum wages, wage theft, illegal and unsafe workforce practices have raised the issue of the government’s commitment to enhancing and supporting labor. This paper examines the contemporary labor situation and proposals to augment the quality and supply of labor today.
Continuous professional development and Millennials. The Millennial generation and subsequent generations are expected to change jobs and professions numerous times during their work lives. It is no longer the case that an employee will be expected to remain at her job for more than just a few years. This paper will explore how Millennials are adapting to a new labor environment of temporary jobs, start-ups and shut downs of firms, the ever-changing demands in the type and level of skills necessary to succeed, and their view of the future. In particular, how do Millennials think about the trajectory of their careers and prepare for retirement?