News & Updates

Local experts gather to discuss workforce development and education strategies in light of recent labor market report

Jun 24, 2016

Karen Holmes Ward opens the panel with a question for Matthew Resseger, BRA Research
This past Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) partnered with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley to host a panel discussion on Boston’s labor market. The panel explored findings identified in Boston’s Labor Market Report, released by OWD and the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) Research Division in March.

Panelists included:
  • John Barros, Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston
  • Michael K. Durkin, CEO, United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley
  • John Hickey, Director of Employee and Labor Relations, Boston Medical Center
  • Matthew Resseger, Economist, Boston Redevelopment Authority
The conversation, moderated by Karen Holmes Ward, Director of Public Affairs at WCVB-TV, touched on a variety of subjects, such as: race and gender disparities, strategies for addressing and closing disparities, job equity and access, and resources for financial literacy, particularly for families aiming to establish generational wealth.

Rather than looking at meta-level strategies for inspiring change, the panelists discussed what they often referred to as the “granular details,” such things as job development, individual development, resources for asset building, and increasing minimum wage.

“Cities don’t make people poor,” noted John Barros, the City’s Chief of Economic Development, “but they sure keep them poor. We need to disrupt this to create opportunities for generational wealth where they haven’t existed.”

Michael K. Durkin, CEO of United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley weighed in, “There is not a government solution. There may be a government starting point, but we all need to participate,” a comment that was directed at the many non-profit organizations in attendance at the event.

The theme that continued throughout the panel was the idea that change takes time, but as a short-term goal, education and resources are extremely important in communities suffering the brunt of economic inequality.

“Knowledge is power for everybody, regardless of your education level,” a point that was iterated by John Hickey, Director of Employee and Labor Relations at Boston Medical Center.

Although there may not be one easily implementable strategy to remove income inequality from Boston’s labor market, there are a number of smaller steps that can, and are, being taken to challenge the current labor market, as evidenced by the conversation. 

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