Fact Sheet 13: Workforce Development Programs


Racial and cultural discrimination in the labor market is one of the main reasons why people of color have difficulty making a living wage even with a surplus of employment opportunities. While programs help alleviate high unemployment in the country, Black males are usually overlooked because they are stereotyped as unwilling to work. The federal government needs to play a role, through the safety net, to ensure that all job seekers can find appropriate employment.

“Without intentional planning that accounts for Black men, they are often disproportionately funneled into job training that leads to lower-wage employment.”

“Social policy advocates should encourage the federal government to renew its promise to the American people by establishing a jobs guarantee.”


  • Studies have shown that factors such as differences in education and skills gaps are not enough to account for the large Black-white gaps in labor market outcomes. Discrimination likely plays a significant role.
  • The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act has the great potential to benefit people of color who face disproportionate barriers to employment, yet it has not always operated with equity. Based upon stereotypes that Black males do not want employment, Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) often do not prioritize them as a population dealing with employment barriers.
  • To ensure that racial discrimination is rooted out of the system, new legislation should be created that is informed by the community and using disaggregated employment data. Social policy advocates can educate state and local Workforce Development Boards about the disparities experienced by Black men and other populations.