Changing the Regional Story for Workforce Development

Season 2, Episode 6

The transformations in the U.S. economy since 1990 have been dizzying.  In 1990, the manufacturing industry employed the highest number of workers among major industries, in the majority of U.S. states. By 2004, the retail industry emerged as top employer across states.  In 2015, the balance shifted again toward the health care and social assistance industry.  Regional economic development strategies focus on efforts to build and retain industry specialization in the economic base during times of growth and on how to revitalize industry clusters during times of economic restructuring.  Inclusive economic development aims to ensure that the jobs created in dynamic industries are accessible to members of historically overlooked communities and that the jobs themselves are good jobs. Models for equitable growth require overcoming barriers to employment in a regional economy, both in terms of skills on the supply side but also cultural barriers such as longstanding narratives about the ability of traditionally disconnected communities to meet employers’ labor needs.

What is your mental model of an ideal worker?  Is your mindset creating blind spots about talent development? In this week’s episode of the CitySCOPE podcast, our co-hosts Norbert Cichon and Brice Eidson speak with leaders of two workforce intermediaries that have developed creative strategies for regional workforce development. David Dodson, past President of MDC Inc., (and Yale SOM graduate!) highlights the importance of connecting young people to work and learning opportunities early in their education-to-career trajectory, both for the young people and for their employers.  His experience with the Made in Durham effort in Durham, North Carolina illustrates both the opportunities and the challenges in this work, even in an economically strong region, home to innovative, globally competitive companies.  Jerry Rubin of Jewish Vocational Services in Boston, shares lessons from his decades of work developing smart and responsive initiatives building bridges to career opportunities in the healthcare sector.  At a time when the American economy is producing both highly paid jobs for those with higher levels of education and large numbers of low wage jobs, Jerry shares what he’s learned about how to direct supply side training toward demand side needs and the importance of pairing those initiatives with strategic efforts to address job quality at the sector level. 

Join us for a great conversation!

Listen by clicking above, or listen and subscribe on applegooglespotifystitcher, and soundcloud.


1. Learn more about Made in Durham here including current computer campaign initiative here

2. JVS Boston website

3. Tuning into Local Labor Markets: Findings from Sectoral Impact Study by Public/ Private Ventures here

4. Information about MA Pathways to Economic Advancement, the JVS Boston Social Impact Bond award