photo of Deborah Kobes
Deborah Kobes
Senior Fellow, Policy
Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
Racial and economic inequity are deeply intertwined and are defining characteristics of American society. To overcome these persistent challenges, we need to understand what solutions are already making an impact and introduce new reforms to the labor market. Urban’s dedication to driving change through action-oriented evidence building is critical to ensuring that innovations, policy, and program investments lead to national, structural impact.

Deborah Kobes is a senior fellow for apprenticeship and workforce in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute, where she advances the expansion of diverse, inclusive, and high-quality registered apprenticeship programs and researches their impact on financial stability. Her other research interests include drivers of labor market inequity and the intersection of workforce development and labor market policy. Kobes has testified before Congress about youth apprenticeship programs, and she has authored numerous reports and book chapters on innovations in apprenticeship and workforce development.

Before joining Urban, Kobes was the interim vice president for the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning at Jobs for the Future. She was the first employee of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, a research affiliate in the Community Innovators Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Brookings Institution research fellow. Kobes started her career in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, supporting the launch of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Kobes received a BSE in civil engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in urban political economy and governance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Research Areas
Economic mobility and inequality
Race and equity
Artificial intelligence
Employer engagement
Inequality and mobility
Job markets and labor force
Job quality and workplace standards
Job training
Labor force
Racial inequities in employment
Workforce development