- President-elect Joe Biden and Congress should focus on upskilling or reskilling workers for new jobs and re-employment assistance, the National Skills Coalition (NSC) recommended Nov. 9. The proposed agenda outlines policy proposals that could be enacted within the first 100 days of the Biden administration and new Congress, according to NSC.
- The agenda, which places an emphasis on an inclusive economic recovery, proposed a "21st century reemployment accord" for all workers. The accord 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; creating a network of 21st century industry partnerships to diversify pipelines for in-demand industries; creating a federal "reemployment distribution fund" to expand income assistance for displaced workers; and expanding access to support services during the reemployment process.
- NSC also recommended the Biden administration establish a White House sub-task force for an inclusive economic recovery as part of an economic recovery task force. "We have a history of economic recovery strategies that pick winners and losers rather than creating real pathways to prosperity for everyone," Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of NSC, said in a statement. "We can't train our way out of this recession, nor can skills policy shoulder alone the weight of a more inclusive economy. But we absolutely cannot build back better without a set of generation defining investments in our people."
The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to re-imagine ways to upskill and reskill workers, according to experts.
During Talent Forward, an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Oct. 30, industry experts discussed taking a skill-based approach for employees' upward mobility. The jobs of the future are moving toward a skills-based economy, "where skills themselves are the currency of the future," Alex Kaplan, global leader of Blockchain and AI for Industry Credentials at IBM, said. As organizations take address the changing needs for jobs, hiring decisions and work assignments will be determined by the value of a person's skills for the future of the company, said Kaplan, who also discussed the use of blockchain technology.
Moving toward a skills-based economy means providing a path for lifelong learning, Sean Murphy, senior manager of opportunity at Walmart.org, said. In June, Walmart announced the expansion of its Live Better U employee benefit program to include digital skills programs. The company is also working to define the skills needed for in-store associates as well as provide skill validation for techniques learned on the job, Murphy said.
"A crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic challenges L&D to become more responsive to business needs," Sari Wilde, managing vice president in Gartner's HR practice, told HR Dive in a previous interview. And front-line workers have also shown interest in upskilling even during the pandemic.
Between March and July 2020, workers in essential industries in North America completed an additional 3 million daily training sessions on Axonify's platform, in addition to an average of two to three sessions completed per user per week, the company reported in August. Employee knowledge in topics such as company processes and health and safety protocols increased by 10%, according to Axonify. Millions of U.S. workers have limited or no digital skills, according to NSC. Digital skills gaps also exist for workers in essential industries amid the pandemic. In April, NSC released fact sheets that assessed the condition of American workers' digital skills; about 33% of workers in the health and social work sector had limited or no digital skills, for example.
In its workforce policy agenda, NSC also proposed that the Biden administration create a "digital skills for the digital age" task force, led by the U.S. Departments of Education, Commerce and Labor. The purpose of the task force would be to "identify strategies to better support digital literacy through existing federal programs while providing the White House with recommendations for new investments needed to ensure that the 48 million U.S. workers with limited or no digital literacy skills can succeed in today' economy," NSC said.