Joan Fitzgerald

Joan Fitzgerald is professor of urban and public policy at Northeastern University. She is the author of Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, and is working on a new book, Greenovation.

Recent Articles

Ladders to a Better Life

One promising strategy for rewarding work seeks to create career ladders to enable low-wage workers to advance through a progression of higher-skilled and better-paid jobs. This approach requires several elements. Employers need to become more explicit about how they structure jobs and routes to career advancement. Workers need access to job-specific training. Institutionally, this endeavor usually requires both an intermediary, such as a community college or a union, and a supportive government strategy to fund and connect all the elements. Even so, many low-wage jobs do not logically lead to higher-paid ones, and a career-ladder strategy is a complement, not a substitute, for better pay, professionalization, and security throughout the job chain. Most career-ladder programs are organized by industrial sectors or clusters of occupations. For example, in Chicago, a community organization, Bethel New Life , is trying to move women who work as certified nursing assistants into jobs as...