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The University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Building Human Capital and Economic Potential: Spurring a National Conversation

The Center for Health and Social Policy, with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and support from the Smith Richardson Foundation and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is convening the top scholars studying education, labor and social welfare issues to address one of the most pressing policy issues of the day: How can we build economic self-sufficiency among working families and the disadvantaged—while simultaneously meeting the labor demand needs of employers—through policies and programs that increase labor market skills, employment, wages and earnings?

In a three-day conference beginning July 16th in Madison, Wisconsin,, prominent researchers studying these issues from the nation's top public and private universities, joined by policymakers and others who inform and shape public policies, will bring evidence to bear on our economic and human capital building challenges and how we can best meet them head on with new policy directions. Participants in the conference will consider structural and cyclical economic issues that influence labor demand and job quality; income support and safety net strategies to better support the working poor; how to increase the success of our secondary and post-secondary education systems and workforce training and preparation programs for both workers and employers, and special efforts needed for the lowest-educated and hard-to-employ.

The research featured in this conference will highlight the fact that there is much more that we can do on a policy front to help those who have been most affected by the slow economic recovery following the Great Recession—especially those with the least education, limited or spotty work experience, and those living in areas with low overall growth or re-entering the labor market with significant barriers to employment—to gain ground at a faster rate. A foremost goal of this conference is to identify the most effective and efficient strategies for building human capital and economic potential that will lead to increased earnings and incomes of the economically and educationally disadvantaged and reduce poverty though work. Indeed, this initiative continues important work launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson more than 50 years ago.