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

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.

Better Marriage Between College and Job Training

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in Inside Higher Ed regarding college and job training in higher education.

Want More Jobs? Give High School Students More Exposure to Training for a Variety of Careers

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in the Washington Post about vocational education for high school students.

Jobs Broker for Aviation Training

Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in Inside Higher Ed about a new nonprofit aimed at partnering aviation employers and college students.

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