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ProfitWise News and Views, No. 2, 2015
Seventh District Workforce Development Programs That Serve Marginalized and Disadvantaged Populations

In 2011, the Community Development and Policy Studies (CDPS) division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago launched the Industrial Cities Initiative (ICI) to take a close look at 10 former industrial/manufacturing hubs and their economic evolution over the last 50 years.

In conjunction with the ICI, CDPS collected information that suggests a skills/education shortage may play a significant role in employment rates across the Seventh District, a role that the recession likely intensified but did not cause. The ICI focused particular attention on the labor force in these cities and the steps taken by workforce development groups to meet demand for vocational and technical training required by major employers nearby. With that information in mind, in Profitwise News and Views, “Community colleges and industry: How partnerships address the skills gap,” CDPS examined what some community colleges in the Seventh District are doing to close this perceived skills gap.

In 2014, CDPS released its findings in published profiles of 10 midwestern cities that experienced significant manufacturing job loss in recent decades. The report features a quantitative assessment of these “industrial cities” augmented by more than 175 interviews with city leaders. The report explores whether – and to what extent – these cities have been able to withstand a decline in manufacturing employment since the 1960s. Workforce development was the most common and the most vexing issue identified by leaders in virtually every ICI city profiled in the report.

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