To ensure that Boston’s economy is thriving, residents must have access to training and education that lead to jobs with family-sustaining wages. Building a jobs pipeline for Greater Boston and Massachusetts is crucial to the economic vitality of the city and region. As such, workforce development is a major focus of the Boston Foundation’s civic leadership activities.
Greater Boston’s highly educated workforce and diverse innovation economy have buoyed the region’s growth. However, each year thousands of jobs remain vacant due to a mismatch between the skills required by employers and those available in the labor force talent pool. Closing this jobs/skills mismatch is essential for Greater Boston to retain and grow talent, jobs and its competitive edge in the global marketplace. Recognizing the critical role community colleges play in the 21st century workforce, the Foundation convened the Coalition FOR Community Colleges, a statewide coalition of business, civic and community organizations, to advocate for stronger alignment among the 15 community colleges and with employers. In July of 2012, Governor Deval Patrick signed a budget which not only increased financial support to community colleges, but also included key governance reforms that will bring stronger alignment and accountability to the community college system, while maintaining each campus' ability to serve local needs and prepare students for success.
The Boston Foundation encourages research and dialogue about the state’s labor supply and is proud to have launched successful workforce development initiatives. A major initiative of the Foundation is SkillWorks, a public/private partnership co-founded by the Boston Foundation in 2003 that works to train thousands of people to participate in Greater Boston’s economy. The Foundation also launched the Allied Health Initiative in close partnership with major Boston medical centers. A 2011 report, When Untapped Talent Meets Unmet Need reflected the success of this initiative, which allows hospitals to educate and train their own low-skilled workers and prepare them for allied health careers.
The Foundation published the first major report on ESOL services, called Breaking the Language Barrier: A Report on English Language Services in Greater Boston, researched by the Commonwealth Corporation. Organizations in this area that have been supported by strategic grants include English for New Bostonians to support ESOL providers in the city, and the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit Action Coalition for an expansion of its Disability Initiative.