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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

Jerry Rubin | Team Profile

David Deming, Faculty Co-director of the Project on Workforce

Jerry Rubin is a Visiting Fellow at the Project on Workforce, and a Foundation Fellow at the Eastern Bank Foundation. He retired in 2022 after serving for fifteen years as President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Vocational Services, Inc., a leading workforce development organization. Prior to joining JVS, Jerry was Vice President of Building Economic Opportunities at Jobs for the Future, a national workforce development and education policy, research, and consulting organization. Jerry founded and was Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations: the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, a training and consulting organization; and the Coalition for a Better Acre, a community development corporation based in Lowell, Massachusetts. Jerry also spent ten years in the administration of Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn leading several housing, economic development and workforce development initiatives.

Jerry holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on housing, economic development and workforce development issues. Jerry is a board member of the Economic Empowerment Trust Fund of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Organization, and the Hyde Square Task Force.


Selected Work

Massachusetts is grappling with a historically tight labor market, with over two job openings for every unemployed person. This poses challenges for employers in recruiting and retaining workers. Long-term trends such as an aging population, declining birth rate, increasing outmigration, and decreasing immigration exacerbate concerns. Despite this, there's a pool of around 400,000 underemployed individuals in the state, along with others not working up to their full potential due to systemic barriers. These barriers include social, educational, and economic challenges, as well as reluctance among employers to adopt skills-based hiring practices and address discriminatory Applicant Tracking Systems. Additionally, there are issues with unpaid learning opportunities and inadequate support services like childcare and transportation. The report suggests a shift in approach from employers, workforce development practitioners, and policymakers to create a more inclusive system. It outlines actions these groups can take to address barriers and highlights organizations that have developed innovative models to tackle these challenges. By adopting recommended practices, Massachusetts can overcome its workforce shortage, foster economic prosperity, and become a national leader in engaging untapped talent.

Jerry Rubin, along with Andre Green, executive director of SkillWorks, and Lauren Jones, Massachusetts secretary of labor and workforce development, discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding Massachusetts' untapped talent pool, focusing on initiatives to connect skilled workers, particularly immigrants and individuals with disabilities, with employers in need. It highlights the African Bridge Network as an example and emphasizes the importance of scaling such programs to address workforce shortages. Strategies include integrating English language instruction with technical skills training, evaluating job requirements to widen the talent pool, and fostering collaboration across sectors. The Healey-Driscoll administration's efforts to develop a comprehensive workforce development agenda underscore the urgency of addressing these issues for long-term economic prosperity.

Project Catapult | The Boston Foundation

Project Catapult was initiated in 2018 in response to a tight labor market, impending baby boomer retirements, and the growth of skilled jobs, creating a demand-supply imbalance. The aim was to develop a stronger workforce development solution to accelerate the advancement of untapped talent while supporting long-term success for both workers and employers. The Boston Foundation, SkillWorks, and JVS Boston collaborated to publish The Catapult Papers, outlining practices for "next-gen workforce development organizations." Catapult Forward further explored how innovative workforce organizations are implementing these practices. Despite the COVID pandemic altering the labor market dynamics, Catapult remains focused on addressing urgent workforce challenges and leveraging partnerships between training organizations and businesses to sustain talent in Greater Boston.

The Catapult Papers, Revisited | The Boston Foundation

Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), founded in 1938, has evolved into a prominent provider of workforce development services, focusing on enhancing the skills of adults with limited English proficiency and income, while addressing employers' talent needs. Before the pandemic, JVS, in collaboration with partners like the Boston Foundation and Skillworks, presented the Catapult Papers, outlining strategies for "Next Generation" workforce development organizations. This essay revisits these strategies in light of the pandemic's impact and the transition toward post-pandemic recovery.


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