November 2023

IZA DP No. 16624: Can Workforce Development Help Us Reach Full Employment?

In this paper, I review the potential of workforce development programs to help the US get closer to "full employment." First, I provide some background on workforce development in the US, and also on the aggregate employment/labor force issues that workforce programs may or may not address. Then I review the empirical evidence on job training and other forms of workforce development, in terms of impacts on employment (as opposed to earnings). I briefly consider how the US experience in this regard compares and contrasts with that of other countries in the EU or OECD, and what we might learn from them. I conclude that more and better workforce development could help somewhat to achieve lower unemployment and higher labor force participation in the US, though we also need a range of other policies to achieve these goals.