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(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) – Cities can do more to lift people out of poverty by helping them build the skills to succeed in today’s job market. That’s the theme of a new book by former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith:

Goldsmith and his wife Kate Markin Coleman began researching their book “Growing Fairly” before COVID-19, but Goldsmith says the labor shortage which has followed the pandemic creates an opportunity to address the underlying issue which already existed: businesses need workers, but people need to build the skills that can help them advance.

Goldsmith, who now teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, says there’s better data than ever on the skills that are in demand in a particular region. He says cities can and should tailor job training to the market, and to individual workers’ needs.

Goldsmith says the most effective job training efforts have used nonprofits to act as coordinators among business, workers, community colleges, social service agencies, and other stakeholders. He points to Houston and San Diego as successful examples, as well as Indy’s Ascend Indiana program, which connects job seekers to more than 500 participating employers.

Goldsmith says helping people out of poverty requires giving them the chance to climb from entry-level jobs to better and better-paying positions. A generation ago, he says, that often meant a 40-year career with one company, but increasing mobility and a decline in giant factories means adapting that model to allow for advancement across several different employers.