Mary Alice McCarthy

Director, Center on Education & Skills

Mary Alice McCarthy is the director of the Center on Education and Skills with the Education Policy program at New America (CESNA). Her work examines the intersection between higher education, workforce development, and job training policies. The Center is dedicated to building learning-based pathways to economic opportunity that can begin inside or outside of formal higher education. McCarthy’s writing has been featured in a diverse set of media outlets including the Washington Monthly, The Atlantic, and the Journal on Community College Research and Practice. In addition to her research, she participates in a wide variety of public engagement, technical assistance, and coalition-building efforts aimed at improving postsecondary education policy and practice.

Prior to joining New America, McCarthy worked at both the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor. She led a variety of technical assistance initiatives in the areas career pathways, credentialing, and competency-based education. While at the Department of Labor, she led a technical assistance initiative with nine states and two tribal entities on how to build and support career pathway programs. She co-founded an interagency working group with staff from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor that continues to meet and coordinate federal investments in relation to career pathways. She also wrote policy guidance on credentialing and career pathways and supported the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) and Workforce Innovation Fund grant programs, helping design the solicitations and technical assistance activities.

McCarthy also has extensive international experience and she has explored how other countries are tackling the skills challenge. While at the Department of Education, she served as the liaison to a team of OECD researchers conducting a review of postsecondary education and training in the United States. At New America, she has continued her work with the OECD and is currently leading a similar review of Peru’s postsecondary education system, which will be published in the spring of 2016 as part of “Skills Beyond School” series of country studies. She also participates in the International Pathways Colloquium, an annual gathering of researchers and policy advocates from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to share learning in the area of career and technical education and workforce development.  She has a PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

All Work

Hatch lauds president’s executive order to expand apprenticeships

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in the Normangee Star about Trump's executive order on apprenticeships.

Alternative System for Registered Apprenticeships

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in Inside Higher Ed about President Trump's executive order concerning apprenticeships.

New Money and New Players on Apprenticeships

Mary Alice McCarthy was mentioned in Inside Higher Ed about the President Trump's apprenticeship plans for Workforce Development Week.

Trump's Apprenticeship Plans Taking Shape

Trump's workforce week will tell us more about his CTE and workforce plans, and how likely they are to succeed.

P-TECH Ready to Put Partnerships to Test

Mary Alice McCarthy was mentioned in the Diverse Issues in Higher Education about one Brooklyn High School's partnership with information te

Apprenticeship Forward: Building a New American Tradition

Apprenticeship can address some of American society's deepest-seated problems. It's time to make the most of the buzz.

A ‘Repudiation’ of Trump Budget

Clare McCann and Mary Alice McCarthy were quoted in Inside Higher Ed on the appropriations included in the omnibus budget deal.

UK Employers Prepare for Apprenticeship Levy

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in the Financial Times about the United Kingdom's apprenticeship model.

How Do We Pay for It? Innovative Approaches to Financing Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship at scale requires resources all employers can use - and tax credits won't cut it. The UK's new plan may be a good reference.

Can We Get to 5 Million “Apprenticeships” in 5 Years?

The difference between apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship and why it matters.

Federal Work Study Can be Great Again

A well-designed work-study program will help students gain access to high quality work opportunities and help them pay for college.

The Free Certificate Movement

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted on the value of certificates leading to occupational licenses or industry certifications.