The Urban Institute
Research Associate (Income and Benefits Policy Center/Workforce) (R&D)
At the Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time. For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit https://www.urban.org.
To open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.
Collaboration, Equity, Inclusivity, Independence, and Integrity.
The Income and Benefits Policy Center (IBP) analyzes family economic well-being from childhood through retirement.
IBP is looking for a Research Associate to work with project teams and gradually lead work as part of Urban's Building America's Workforce initiative. The workforce team undertakes research on a wide range of issues, including postsecondary education and training programs and policies; employers, workplaces, and the labor market; and workforce development systems and policies. We strive to understand and advance social and economic policies to remedy persistent structural racism and support racial equity. Our goal is to improve policy and practice at the federal, state, and local levels—as well as within organizations—with a focus on building a skilled workforce that earns sustainable wages and supporting individuals and families realize their personal, family, and community goals toward improved wellbeing. We do this through rigorous evaluations of programs using quantitative and qualitative methods; analysis of data, policies and issues; and the development of frameworks and other tools for the field.
The workforce team is seeking a full-time research associate who will be responsible for helping manage and conduct research and technical assistance related to postsecondary education and workforce policies and programs. Areas of study include interventions to support student parents (i.e., students with children), employer engagement in workforce programs, career pathways, community college programs, postsecondary career and technical education, workforce program supportive services, apprenticeships, work-based learning, and youth career development.
Lead literature and research reviews.
Engage in discussions and collaborative projects to inform research, policy, and practice with intersectionally marginalized populations, such as through community engaged methods research.
Lead efforts to prepare materials and collect qualitative data through site visits and phone data collection.
Manage qualitative data analysis to draw out key themes using qualitative data software (e.g., NVivo, ATLAS.ti).
Lead analysis of quantitative data, preferably with the ability to use statistical analysis software (e.g., Stata, R, SAS).
Help facilitate communities of practice and coach partners in data collection and usage related to higher education and workforce issues.
Summarize findings and present data effectively in multiple formats. Produce tables, graphics, and possibly visualizations for published reports and presentations.
Support fundraising efforts to conduct research and inform practice on postsecondary education, workforce, and labor market issues. Contribute to the development of proposals, responses to solicitations, and other meaningful business cultivation activities.
Help manage projects and team performance, including directly managing assistants and analysts; monitoring project progress, budget, and schedule; and implementing strategies to successfully complete project tasks.
Assist in quality control activities for specific projects, including ensuring the accuracy of data management, analysis, and reporting.
Co-author research reports, briefs, blogs, and presentations for external audiences.
Deliver presentations to external stakeholders, such as at meetings and conferences.
(Preferred but not mandatory) Develop and administer surveys and questionnaires (i.e., recruitment and data collection protocols and instruments).
The successful candidate will:
Possess the knowledge and skills usually associated with a PhD in public policy, economics, sociology, political science, or a related field. Alternatively, they must possess the skills associated with a master's degree and 3 plus years of prior experience in public policy research or parallel fields that are relevant to policy and/or practice. Prior experience with project management is also strongly desired.
Exhibit knowledge of the current state of scholarship, practice, and/or policy in at least one of the policy areas through a thesis, research papers and projects, professional experience, advocacy experience, or volunteer experience. Sample policy areas include supports for student parents, postsecondary education and training, apprenticeship, employer engagement and workforce needs, workforce development systems, youth pathways to postsecondary success and careers, and job quality and workplace standards.
Demonstrate outstanding writing ability, strong critical thinking and problem-solving ability, clear oral communication, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to work effectively on multiple projects.
Understand and demonstrate respectful approaches to engaging and communicating with individuals of differing backgrounds and experience to support collaborative projects.
Employ strengths-based perspectives when talking about particular groups or particular contexts.
Engage and communicate with external clients and stakeholders, including funders, program operators, and community members.
Show a strong willingness to learn, adapt and suggest improvements.
Make effective decisions within boundaries of roles, responsibilities, and authorities
Use strong interpersonal skills and comfort working both independently and in team environments.
Be able to travel periodically to participate in research activities, meetings, conferences and other convenings across the United States (and in Washington DC for researchers who work remotely) as necessary to fulfill project needs.
(Preferred but not mandatory) Have previous experience in a research environment and experience working on evaluations (implementation/process, impact, formative/developmental), and/or policy-related research.
In addition to the above, we value lived (and ongoing) experience and expertise, and encourage candidates with personal familiarity with employment services, community colleges, parenting while in college or graduate school, navigating public assistance programs and/or basic needs resources and strategies, the public workforce system, and/or other parallel lived experience/experiential expertise to apply. Although lived experience is not required, all candidates should be prepared to support, engage in, and promote efforts to develop and elevate leadership roles for students, scholars, and researchers who bring lived experience to their work in this field.
No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, DC area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.
Urban's greatest asset is our people.
Urban is committed to supporting our staff's physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you're hired and a generous employer contribution after six months of service and 500 hours, with immediate vesting. You'll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
As a federal contractor, Urban will comply with Executive Order (EO) 14042 that requires federal contractors, subcontractors, and their respective employees to comply with Covid-19 vaccinations. All Urban Institute employees must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and comply with masking and distancing requirements, regardless of responsibilities or work location. New hires must also be fully vaccinated before starting work. Employees may request exemption from vaccination against COVID-19 based on either a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss with each employee potential accommodation.
The Urban Institute has formally recognized the Urban Institute Employees' Union, which is part of the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). Urban management and the Union work together in good faith and are motivated by a shared commitment to this institution. This position is included in the Union-represented collective bargaining unit, and specific employment terms and conditions are subject to collective bargaining negotiations.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the people assigned. This posting is not an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Urban management reserves the right to amend and change duties, responsibilities, and requirements to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.
The Urban Institute is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law.
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