The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development is based at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The university-based research and policy center, founded in 1997, is dedicated to raising the effectiveness of the American workplace by strengthening workforce education, placement and training programs, and policies and has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s leading research centers for workforce development. The Center’s efforts concentrate on both nurturing concrete innovations in workforce practices, as well as addressing broad-scale economic policy changes that ensure Americans receive the education and training they need to be productive and prosperous in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. The Center provides an independent source of analysis for reform and innovation in policy-making and employs cutting-edge research and evaluation projects to identify best practices in workforce development and employment and workplace policy. It is also engaged in significant partnerships with the private sector to design effective education and training programs and is committed to assisting job seekers and workers attain the information, education, and skills training they need to move up the economic ladder. The Center embodies its slogan ‘Solutions at Work’ by not only documenting challenges facing the nation’s workforce, but also partnering with industry leaders and educators to seek out practical solutions that translate into effective government and workforce policy. Ultimately, the Center serves as a laboratory to create innovative, applied solutions to well-documented workplace challenges. This combination of scholarly research and “real world” solutions enables the Center to make a significant difference in the lives and futures of American workers and their employers. The Center provides clients and partners with an array of services:
- Assessing the effectiveness of workforce and education programs, underscoring best practices in education, training, and economic development, while also identifying emerging challenges that employers and policymakers must address. Including issues such as the growing ‘spatial mismatch’ between where workers live and where employers locate.
- Leveraging the Center’s extensive research on labor issues and insight into workforce programs to develop information technology products designed to empower job seekers and assist workforce program operators. Issues include industry workforce needs as well as how to span gaps between labor supply and demand. Products include a training program consumer report card (www.njtrainingresources.org) that provides New Jersey training programs and facilitates searches and comparisons of these programs based on the preferences of job seekers.
- Distributing and publicizing research findings to educate business and union leaders, policymakers, community members, as well as media and the academic communities, on critical workforce and education issues that relate to the emerging global, knowledge-driven economy. The Center’s survey series, Work Trends, is a key component of this effort, receiving widespread attention from media outlets and policymakers.
- Developing curricula, training materials, and development courses and programs for frontline staff and managers in public workforce agencies and community-based organizations. These capacity-building activities are produced through a myriad of courses, seminars, conferences, workshops, and curricula available both on and offline.
- Educating a new generation of workforce development professionals. More than 30 undergraduate and graduate students have studied and worked on Center projects and are now pursuing their careers as educators, workforce consultants, employment center administrators, legislative analysts, government researchers, and budget specialists.