Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier


Publication Date



Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 00-64

**Published Version**

In Building Skills for Black Workers: Preparing for the Future Labor Market, edited by Cecilia A. Conrad. Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, c2004, pp. [127]-161




This paper discusses the role of public policy in the skills development system of the U.S. It further examines the implications of that policy for the skill development and career progression of black workers. The paper describes the current "system" for skills development in the United States as a two- tiered system: The "first-chance" or conventional system allows individuals to proceed through an extensive public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational sector that is supplemented by private educational institutions and is followed by employer-provided job training and work experience. The "second-chance" system is designed for individuals who do not successfully traverse the first-chance system. The second-chance system includes public job training programs, public assistance, rehabilitation programs for offenders, and educational remediation. The public agency for labor market exchange, the Employment Service, has tended to play a significant role in facilitating employment in the second-chance system. Paradoxically, despite the tremendous success of the U.S. economy, including the fact that it has the world's leading level of worker productivity, there is a pervasive perception that the current system for skills development in the U.S. is failing. Lagging school achievement (particularly in urban areas), high unemployment rates for certain groups of the population, and employer concerns about the quality of entry level workers suggest that the current system may be neither efficient nor equitable.

Issue Date

August 2000


This paper is a revised version of a paper that was presented at a conference titled, "Skills Development for Black Workers in the 21st Century," Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, November 3, 1999, Washington, D.C.


Supported by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Subject Areas

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; Public training programs; WIA, JTPA, and CETA; Job skills and standards


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Bartik, Timothy J. and Kevin M. Hollenbeck. 2000. "The Role of Public Policy in Skills Development of Black Workers in the 21st Century." Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 00-64. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/wp00-64