The economic competitiveness of the United States hinges on the strength of its workforce. Developing a skilled workforce, however, requires a keen understanding of workforce needs and a plan to address those needs. The resources in this announcement compare the skills of the U.S. workforce with other countries, describe the characteristics of workers who lack foundational skills, and offer ways stakeholders can help enhance these skills, such as improving the quality of vocational training.

Skills of U.S. Unemployed, Young, and Older Adults in Sharper Focus: Results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult. 2016. This report presents results from two rounds of the U.S. Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies study conducted in 2012 and 2014. The study compares assessment scores of adults in the U.S. with the scores of adults in 23 participating countries to better understand the relationship between educational attainment and employment outcomes, with a focus on unemployed adults, young adults, and older adults.

Foundational Skills in the Service Sector: Understanding and addressing the impact of limited math, reading, and technology proficiency on workers and employers. 2017. This report examines the characteristics of approximately 20 million American workers in the service industry who have low literacy, numeracy, and technology skills. It provides employers and policy makers with strategies to help develop and strengthen these workers’ foundational skills. For instance, report authors recommend that companies “Partner with training organizations and community colleges to help workers upskill.”

Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market. 2014. This brief offers four evidence-based recommendations to workforce boards that might improve the economic mobility of disadvantaged adult workers. These four recommendations are focused on improving the quality of publicly-funded vocational training programs under WIA now WIOA. One recommends that “workforce boards should explore developing training programs in partnerships with employers.”