As the economic divide continues unabated, there is a greater understanding of the role that employers of entry‐level, low wage workers must play if America is to re‐build a middle class. Many people need access to entry level positions that can lead to upskilling and career pathways. To this end, many employers need to rethink their business and workplace practices so they enhance economic stability for entry‐level workers while also supporting their business success. Wages, on‐the‐job training, hours, transportation, career counseling, and scheduling are just a few of the issues that employers need to address with their workforce to maintain and grow their businesses, keep employees engaged, and customers happy.

These worker issues and employer‐based strategies is a key component of our systems change work with the Aspen Institute, funded by the Walmart Foundation.

Underlying Assumptions about Next Generation Sector and Demand Side Strategies Successful economic opportunity and educational attainment strategies leverage a dual‐customer approach, where both participant (e.g., students, job seekers, employees, etc.) and employer needs are met. This includes:

  • involving employers in long‐term workforce planning
  • partnering with employers on curriculum development
  • sharing responsibility for upskilling strategies

Smart, sustainable employer engagement strategies build capacity within organizations and across communities to engage employers as partners in systems‐change—including place‐based, state‐wide, and national policy change. This next generation of sector and demand side strategies will focus both on employment opportunities as well as job quality, retention, and advancement policies and practices. These strategies will also focus on helping employers, education, and workforce system providers better align resources around career pathways.