Thursday, November 8, 2012: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Baltimore Theatre (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Organizers: Anna Haley-Lock, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Moderators: Burt Barnow, George Washington University and Jodi Jacobson, University of Maryland School of Social Work
Chairs: Kristin Seefeldt, Indiana University
The U.S. economic downturn and “jobless recovery” have energized continued effort by scholars, lawmakers and policy advocates to understand better the respective capacities of the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors for offering high quality jobs and prospects for sustained labor force attachment. This panel examines the roles of the nonprofit and public sectors, in comparison to the for-profit sector, as sources of employment and the nature of contemporary public and nonprofit jobs. Investigating themes of growth of opportunity, resource scarcity and uncertainty, and employee vulnerability, the four papers contextualize nonprofit and public jobs within the current trend of privatization of public services, debates over both the commitment and compensation of public workers and public sector unionism, and the continued economic downturn that have resulted in decreasing jobs within some nonprofit sub-fields and decreasing working conditions across the nonprofit, public as well as for-profit sectors.
The papers combine a broad “establishing” view of some of the characteristics of employment in the nonprofit and public sectors, respectively (papers 1 and 2), with an examination of the access of disadvantaged workers to employment opportunities within each sector (paper 3) and through cross-sectoral collaboration (paper 4). Paper 1 assesses the dominance of the nonprofit sector as a source of significant employment opportunity, particularly within the subfields of social assistance, education, and health care, even as privatization favoring for-profit firms poses competitive challenges. Turning to employment within the public sector, paper 2 investigates the individual and organizational level correlates of stressful child welfare work conditions, finding that organizational policies and practices related to job rewards, decisionmaking, and work-life support are substantially predictive. The third paper considers the access that the nonprofit and public sectors provide workers lacking a college degree to high quality jobs, conceptualized as those providing fringe benefits, full-time hours and scheduling flexibility; the authors find that lower-educated nonprofit and public employees receive benefits and scheduling flexibility to a significantly greater extent than their peers in for-profits. The final paper reports results of an innovative nonprofit workforce development initiative for cost-effectively linking disadvantaged workers to high-quality employment opportunities within the for-profit sector.
In total, the panel contributes to academic policy research by adding to knowledge of the scope, nature, and impacts of employment within the public and nonprofit sectors. With respect to policy practice, the papers’ identification of structural aspects of nonprofit and public employment that may limit or facilitate work outcomes, and presentation of cross-sectoral strategies for linking workers to quality jobs, offer potential levers for enhancing employment opportunity.