Mary Alice McCarthy

Director, Center on Education and Skills

Mary Alice McCarthy is the director of the Center on Education and Skills with the Education Policy program at New America. 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 Act 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

Beyond the Classroom

Join us for the launch of a new report on strategies for integrating work and school

Will the Real Apprentice Please Stand Up?

Mary Alice McCarthy wrote for the Hill about President-elect Trump's opportunity to expand the U.S. apprenticeship system.

National Stakeholders and Foundations Announce Apprenticeship Forward National Conference in May 2017

A new conference will focus on three critical challenges facing the expansion of apprenticeship in the United States.

Education and Training Policy in the Era of Trump

Apprenticeship and Immigrant Integration in Germany

With the business community's support, there is an emphasis in Germany on using the dual education system to integrate new migrants.

Seeing is Believing

Here is the first installment of what will be a short travel blog series on "The Great German Apprenticeship Tour of 2016".

Time for a Closer Look: Apprenticeships in American high schools

We think it is time to reconsider the role that apprenticeship can play in American high schools.

A Midsummer's Bill: 3 Take-Aways from the House Perkins Bill

The close alignment with WIOA is the biggest strength of the legislation and reflects a rare and welcome point of consensus among Republican

A Global Renaissance in Postsecondary Vocational Education?

Please join us on the morning of Tuesday, April 12 for a lively discussion on international trends in skills-based education and training.

Too Many Higher Education On-Ramps Lead to Dead-Ends

Mary Alice McCarthy wrote for eCampus News about the lack of quality pathways to a bachelors degree.

Starting from Scratch

A new vision for higher education.

What the stigma of blue-collar jobs is doing to our students

If information doesn’t do the trick, making the system more flexible might, argues Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior analyst at the Washington,