What Explains Their Involvement? American Employers Associations and Workforce Development Initiatives

Awarded Scholars:
Edwin Mendelez, New School University
Joshua Hawley, Ohio State University
Project Date:
Jan 2002
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

Edwin Melendez of the New School University, Joshua Hawley of Ohio State University, and Lynn McCormick of Hunter College/CUNY are conducting a survey regarding the role of employers associations in the labor market. Whereas in Europe, business associations have had a long history of involvement in workforce development, American employers associations are often labeled as self-serving, uncooperative, and passive with regard to workers. But recent studies are showing that this has not always been the case, and more and more frequently U.S. employers associations are taking an active role in workforce development. This is good news for low-skilled and low-wage workers who may find it difficult to advance in today's economy due to increased competition from global labor markets and rapid technological innovations requiring new skill sets. Community colleges, unions, temporary help agencies, as well as employers associations, have joined the ranks of community-based organizations and governmental agencies in training, supporting, and placing disadvantaged workers. With the advent of welfare-to-work and school-to-work programs, the participation of employers associations in these programs became immediately visible along with the desire of scholars and policymakers to discern their role and potential impact on helping the disadvantaged worker. Melendez et al. hope to determine the extent and evolution of employers associations involvement in workforce development; in what regions or sectors is their role greater and why; and how useful are they compared to other labor intermediaries. The researchers will draw a random sample of just over 1000 large business associations from the Encyclopedia of Associations published by the Gale Group, with the survey designed to elicit a rich empirical portrait of this emerging sector as well as to provide a valuable database for further research.


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