Wasting no time, on Nov. 9 the National Skills Coalition released a new federal workforce policy agenda for President-elect Joe Biden and Congress, outlining specific policy proposals that could be enacted within the first 100 days of the Biden administration and new Congress to build an economic recovery that is inclusive and equitable.
“Let’s build back better by including everyone,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition. “That means ensuring people’s essential needs are met while they train for newly created jobs, new industries and technologies. It means investing in the workers and businesses most impacted by the pandemic and making sure that they are better off as our economy improves.”
NSC’s agenda for President Biden and Congress includes establishing Dislocation Reskilling Accounts of up to $15,000 per worker to invest in training at a community or technical college or community-based organization; expanding access to child care, transportation assistance and other support services for all displaced workers, and creating a federal Reemployment Distribution Fund to expand income assistance for displaced workers.
NSC recommends that job creation investments must be paired with investments in job training to help workers take advantage of new career opportunities. This includes establishing a $20 billion Workforce Trust Fund as part of any infrastructure package, along with incentives to train and hire women and people of color who have been excluded and underrepresented in the past.
The agenda also calls for new investments in incumbent worker training and partnerships between community colleges, small and mid-sized businesses and other stakeholders, to develop meaningful pathways for workers to enter into and advance in critical industries – with a focus on addressing racial equity gaps within target occupations and industries.
“We have a history of economic recovery strategies that pick winners and losers rather than creating real pathways to prosperity for everyone,” said Van Kleunen. “We can’t train our way out of this recession, nor can skills policy alone shoulder the weight of a more inclusive economy. But we absolutely cannot build back better without a set of generation-defining investments in our people.”
To help advance an inclusive economic recovery agenda, NSC recommends that the Biden administration establish a White House Sub-Task Force for an Inclusive Economic Recovery – as part of a White House-led Economic Recovery Task Force – that would be charged with addressing racial and other equity gaps in education and employment outcomes from workforce investments.
President-elect Biden has called for a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including investments in industry-led training partnerships and expanding apprenticeship opportunities. Biden has also proposed providing two years of tuition-free community college for recent high school graduates and adults who may need retraining to advance in their careers or transition to new industries.
“Appointing a dedicated sub-task force for an inclusive economic recovery would send a strong signal to Congress and the country that Biden intends to make good on his commitment to make big investments in education and job training,” said Van Kleunen. “It would also help ensure that workforce investments are at the forefront of the Biden administration’s economic recovery plan.”