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Our North Star: Quality Jobs for 75 Million People

Join us to help millions of people achieve economic advancement.

June 5, 2023

At a Glance

Together, we are reimagining what is possible—leading public, private, and nonprofit sector changemakers to new ideas, promising innovations, and equitable ways to help millions more people advance.

Maria Flynn President & CEO 

The true nature of the U.S. economy is starting to come into focus. While we’re still seeing headlines touting strong job numbers and low unemployment rates, many people are experiencing a far more complicated reality.

Here’s the full picture: Our current education and workforce systems define success by the number of job placements rather than the hiring of workers into quality jobs. Today, only 44% of employed workers in this country have quality jobs. We must do better.

On June 14 and 15, Jobs for the Future (JFF) will welcome 1,500 partners and collaborators to New Orleans for our annual Horizons summit, where we will explore actionable ideas for transforming the U.S. education and workforce systems to create a future that works—for everyone.

This year, we’re kicking off the summit with a bold call to action for our partners throughout the learn and work ecosystem to join us in achieving a new North Star goal:

By 2033, 75 million people facing systemic barriers to advancement will work in quality jobs.

We can’t get there alone. We see this as a collective North Star, and I’m calling on you to help us reach it. We see far too many people shut out of quality jobs because our education and workforce systems are inequitable, disconnected, and hard to navigate. We need to work together to transform these systems so that every individual, regardless of background, can advance economically.

As we celebrate JFF’s 40th anniversary this year, we’ve been imagining the future and where we want to be on our 50th anniversary. We’ve asked ourselves a critical question: What can we collectively—as a field—accomplish in the next decade that will make a difference for a large number of people? We answered that question by setting our sights on a new North Star, and we believe it’s an achievable goal.

With your help, we can drive transformation of the U.S. education and workforce systems so every person can work in a quality job. Together, we can reimagine what’s possible—leading changemakers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to new ideas, promising innovations, and equitable ways to help millions more people advance.

What is a ‘quality job’?

What do we mean when we say “quality jobs”? We’re not talking about just a living wage and benefits, though those things are critically important. Quality jobs go much further. They also provide workers with stability, flexibility, autonomy, and economic advancement. In practice, this means things like fair scheduling, paid family and sick leave, transparent advancement pathways, opportunities for workers to provide input, and an equitable workplace. Quality jobs work for everyone.

Why 75 million?

Despite consistent demand for skilled labor, only 38 million people facing systemic barriers to advancement in the United States are working in what we consider a quality job. Together, we can effectively double that number in 10 years to 75 million.

Reflecting our commitment to equity, we will center our efforts on people who both face systemic barriers and are directly impacted by our work. With a special focus on young adults, immigrants, and people who are Black, Latinx, or Indigenous, this group includes people without a four-year degree, people of color and women of all backgrounds with a four-year degree, and people with criminal records.

How do we get there?

For four decades, JFF has partnered with organizations across the learn and work ecosystem to design solutions, scale best practices, influence policy and action, and invest in innovations that drive economic advancement for all learners and workers.

With this North Star, we’re aligning our work across all of our practices and centers as well as JFFLabs and JFFVentures in service to achieving the goal we’ve set.

I invite you to join us on this journey. Please bring your best ideas and your strongest commitment. Because we can only reach this North Star if we travel together.