Index of what we've been reading at Skillhood.

"Regenerating Legacy Cities"
Lincoln Institute, May 2013

  • If residents’ skills increase so they can compete successfully for jobs throughout the region, their economic conditions will improve. (p.5)
  • Legacy cities have assets, but not all assets are created equally. (p.13)
  • Intact neighborhoods = “where the fabric and density still exist and can sustain vital communities” (p.28)
  • Disinvested areas = population loss and property abandonment (p.28)
  • Payton A Heins. Centre for Community Progress = the only national nonprofit specifically dedicated to building a future in which vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties no longer exist.
  • Physical asset to leverage: traditional downtowns; stable neighbourhoods; Historic buildings and areas; water bodies; transport; Institutions (universities, medical centres)
  • Economic factors: Manufacturing companies, existing employment base, Organisations and institutions (government, arts, civic bodies), Human Capital: non-profits; regional bodies, local skill centres, cohesive ethnic communities

"The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism"
Brookings Institution Press, 2018

  • From Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak
  • How locus of governance is moving to city bodies able to cope with rapid pace of change that steps ahead of Federal adjustments
  • References: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Copenhagen
  • Roles of problem solvers and how private enterprise and public institutions can work together

Automation is set to hit the heartland the hardest — again” (Axios)

  • Should take a place-first approach to automation - where will be affected (Roy Bahat)
  • States with the highest proportion of “at-risk” roles are Indiana (29%), Kentucky (29%), South Dakota (28%), Arkansas (28%), and Iowa (28%)
  • Mass unemployment isn’t the frontier, it’s mass deployment (Michael Chui)
  • Geography of Discontent (EU)

Why Midsized Metro areas deserve our attention” (Brookings)

  • Altogether, 68 million people—or one in four Americans—live in one of the nation’s 135 midsized metro areas. While that’s only a little more than one-third the number of people who live in large metro areas (183 million), it’s far more than the number who live in smaller metro areas with populations under 250,000 (29 million), or even the 46 million “rural” Americans who live outside metro areas altogether (Figure 2). Midsized metro areas range in population from Yakima, Wash. (250,200) to Tulsa, Okla. (990,700). Although these regions lack the size and global reach of their much larger metro counterparts, they arguably retain the requisite scale to offer a distinctive economy and quality of life to their businesses and residents. Moreover, their size may also facilitate the sort of pragmatic, cross-sector problem solving that often bedevils larger metro areas; to wit, the average midsized metro area encompasses just 2.8 U.S. counties, versus 8.2 counties in the average large metro area.

Made in the USA: inside one company’s all-American supply chain (FT)

  • Cotton production in North Carolina
  • American Giant making apparel entirely in U.S.


Invest in America

Waste Management

Recycling waste from abandoned houses (USA Today)

  • Spotlight on Balitmore

Economic Innovation

Opportunity Zones: The Map Comes into Focus (Economic Innovation Group)

The tech billionaires behind Opportunity Zones, Forbes

  • Written by
  • Identifies where investors can put taxable capital gains
  • Investors who sell assets have 180 days to plow their taxable capital gains into an approved opportunity fund, which must hold 90% of its assets in Opportunity Zone projects.
  • For a census tract to qualify as an O-zone, it must have a poverty rate of 20% or higher or a median household income that is less than 80% of the surrounding area. Governors are allowed to designate 25% of their states' eligible tracts as O-zones. In all, about 8,700 areas, ranging from rusty industrial towns to dusty rural hamlets, have been approved.
  • 8,700 designated O-zones
  • Vacancy Rates in the U.S. (CityLab)

Lifelong Learning Act (Augusta Free Press)

  • Proposed by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Chris Coons (D-DE)
  • Ref: John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority
  • Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director of the National Skills Coalition
  • Alastair Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative Waste Management Recycling waste from abandoned homes

Refugee Crisis

Ethiopia allow 800,000 refugees to claim temporary residential status (Reuters, January 2019)

  • Coming from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
  • Fitsum Arega (head of the Ethiopian Investment Commission ) : new legislation part of the country's "Jobs Compact" — a $500 million program which aims to create 100,000 jobs — 30 % of which will be allocated to refugees.

Public Policy

Addressing Skill Gaps (Society for Human Resource Management)

  • Tanya Axenson, global head of human resources for Allegis Group, recommends that HR identify the core competencies needed for any job. "The question is, how much of that must someone possess when they sit in the chair on day one versus how much can be trained or taught?" she asked. "With the way jobs are changing more quickly, we're finding that more organizations are willing to hire for the core and make sure that the person has the necessary soft skills to navigate the workplace, and then train for the rest."
  • City innovators to watch (Bloomberg Philanthropies)

U.S. industrial history in the context of technology (Louis Hyman, August 2018, New York Times)

  • Over the past 10 years, 95% new jobs have been insecure
  • Wake of the Great Depression, employment was favoured
  • It’s only since 1970s has temping taken trend

Workforce Management

Work Aptitude Questions for Army Alpha

The kids aren’t right (Resolution Foundation)

  • What is needed however is clear and accurate information about specific career paths at a far more granular level than that provided by the National Careers Service. It will also need to be able to support firms (see Section 4) as well as individuals. While of course this should not be driven by very specific predictions of the types of jobs that will blossom, it can illustrate bigger trends and signpost established progression routes.

Training in the Construction Industry 9 (NYT)

The Good Jobs Strategy (2014)

  • Published by MIT Sloan School of Management professor, Zeynep Ton
  • On Janet Patty, an employee at QuickTrip who earns $70,000 per year: “… you could think she was a sales assistant “at a high-end department store or helping customers find designer clothes while a pianist plays in the background. Or perhaps she is a manager at a medical supply store helping people find the right wheelchair or a coffee cup they can hold with a hand weakened by a stroke.” (p.8)
  • Model employers “One could say that [the model employer] puts itself in the employees’ hands, then does its best to make sure those hands are strong, skilled and caring.” (p.16)
  • Getting operations right is vital - “It’s not that customers do not like to be smiled at or treated nicely. But kindness or friendliness won’t make up for operational incompetency. It’s hard for a grocery store to make you happy if it repeatedly doesn’t have what you came in for, or if the checkout line is often long and slow, or if you get home and find that the eggs you just bought have already expired.” (p.22-23)
  • Toyota v. Acme Auto on standards: “For me, it started with the little things the managers did as they showed our group of professors around. When we left the conference room, they erased the boards and put the chairs back where they belonged.” (p.28)
  • “The current practice of low-cost retail - or what I call the bad jobs strategy - is stressful for management.” (p.54)

Technical terms:

  • Slack - staffing a shift with enough employees to do the work required, then including additional headcount to ensure that all tasks can be done, with space / time on the side for learning about inventory, product location and, in retail, helping a customer completely.
  • Phantom stockouts (p.40): when a product appears to be out of stock because it can’t be found by the customer, when in fact there is inventory available
  • non-satiation (p.76)
  • safety stock (p.80)
  • Improving the experience for customers and employees is an operational decision. Constraints can easily be put in place to increase quality. Reducing hours is one way, limiting stock (Costco) is another.

cross training professors p.149

Working Metrics & The Aspen Institute partner to set benchmarks for Good Jobs (The Aspen Institute)

  • As the labor market shifts from a focus on credentials to capabilities, our efforts... advocate for a new social safety net – where benefits are portable and not tied to the traditional employer-employee relationship.

Automation and Digitisation

Vocational Training

Opportunity Industries: Exploring the industries that concentrate on good and promising jobs in metropolitan American (Brookings, December 2018)

  • Difference between “good” and “promising” jobs

Excellent on data for over 50 cities in the U.S., looking at:

  • “Share of all metro area workers without a bachelor's degree”
  • “Share of workers without a bachelor's degree that started in production occupations”

Middle Skills gap in U.S (

  • Profiles lineman who went through 13-week line workers program at Lansing Community College
  • Flow of students into colleges has slowed. 2011 - 2017, undergraduate and graduate students entering degree-granting institutions fell by 1.7 million students (9%).
  • Starting hourly rates are $28 after training complete, with overtime bringing in option of 6-figure salaries