New Book Provides Suggestions On How Capitalism Can Be Made More Equitable

The gaping economic divide in the US has many lamenting the death of the “American Dream.” But authors of a new book argue that the notion of the American dream is only lost when the capitalist lens is focused short range. Re-Imagining Capitalism for the Long Term aggregates contributions from academics, businesspeople and members of non-government organizations who act as thought leaders in the area of reformed capitalism.

“Both individually and collectively,” the introduction reads, “they provide powerful suggestions of what such a long-term oriented model of capitalism should look like and how it can be achieved.”

Vintage toned Wall Street at sunset, NYC.

The founder and CEO of the workforce development organization Year Up, Gerald Chertavian, along with the program’s National Director for Strategic Growth and Impact, Shawn Bohen, illustrate one of these models in the third part of the book, which focuses on broad-stroke reformations. The chapter, titled “Restoring the Capitalist Promise: Opportunities in the US Youth Labor Market,” includes staggering statistics that illustrate the high costs of overlooking youth talent, both on an individual and a societal level. These range from high unemployment and low graduation rates to the billions lost due to low revenues and increased social services.

On the most basic level, Chertavian and Bohen suggest, companies should implement existing best practices and apply it to their workforce, specifically what they call “Opportunity Youth.” Year Up sees these unemployed or underemployed 16- to 24-year-olds as “untapped potential” who, if developed and sought out using basic supply chain management techniques, can be instrumental in revitalizing capitalism.

“Investing in the ‘underserved’ is more than just corporate responsibility or philanthropy for these employers,” Chertavian and Bohen write. “They understand that their fortunes are inextricably linked to the well-being of the communities in which they operate and the life prospects of their employees.”

As an “intermediary” between employers and Opportunity Youth talent pools, Year Up promotes a workforce training solution aimed at expanding employment opportunities for young people and closing the skills gap many corporations are dealing with. After six months of training in technical and professional skills, students are placed in a six-month internship. Year Up works with more than 250 companies at 18 sites across the U.S.

Once in the workforce, Year Up graduates have acquired and honed skills tailored to current corporate needs. The chapter reads, “Employer demand both drives and sustains the Year Up model, from the market-driven skills which form the core curriculum to the corporate underwriting of the internships which sustain its operations. This tight linkage to employer demand — combined with research-based program design and strong business accountability practices—helps account for Year Up’s extraordinary results.”

Measurable success comes in the retention and subsequent economic mobility of Year Up graduates. The program has a 75 percent completion rate—far outperforming average US high school and college rates—and alumni who go directly into the workforce earn an average of $16 per hour, more than double minimum wage. Corporate partners contribute $25,000 for each intern, a telling figure when examining return on investment.

The effort, Chertavian and Bohen argue, or lack of effort, could determine the new form of the capitalist system, for better or worse.

“While these specific recommendations apply to the US, they exemplify a critical re-imagining that is needed not only for the benefit of youth lacking opportunity, but to sustain the capitalist system as a whole from the dangers inherent in significant swathes of young people disengaged from economic opportunity.”

Taken as a whole, Re-Imagining Capitalism for the Long Term is a diagnosis, prognosis and cure all at once.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Income Inequality, Skills Gap, Workforce Development,
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