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

EDUCATION POLICY
Are Better Credentials the Answer to the Skills Gap?

It is clear that the labor market is not functioning as well as it could for either job seekers or employers.


EDUCATION POLICY
How Computer Warranties Paved the Way for Edward Snowden

Warranties are ubiquitous in the IT sector because the products are expensive, break easily, are hard to fix, and need constant upgrades.


EDUCATION POLICY
Are You Certified?

Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of credentials beyond the academic degree.


EDUCATION POLICY
Two Approaches to Closing the Skills Gap – One of Which Actually Works

Surveys consistently show that employers believe they face a shortage of qualified workers.


EDUCATION POLICY
The Adult Skills Survey: A Second Look at the US Results

The US is falling dangerously behind in the global skills race and needs to address weaknesses across its education system.


EDUCATION POLICY
One in Six American Adults Lacks Basic Skills: The PIAAC Results and Implications

The United States failed to score above the cross-country average on any of the three assessed skills.


EDUCATION POLICY
Broad-Based Knowledge or Technical Skills? Employers Say We’ll Take Both – Along With a Few Years of Experience

A recent survey nicely captures the near total lack of agreement on the mix of knowledge and skills today’s college graduates need.