The writing on the wall was starting to show late into the Summer of 2020. The usual chatter from NSC’s network of advocates about the next Skills Summit wasn’t as loud as years past.
By then, the Covid-19 pandemic had already ravaged the economy and put tens of millions of people out of work. The number of victims of the deadly virus was skyrocketing with no end in sight. Stimulus talks seemed to start and stall weekly, and relief felt further and further from those who needed it.
In-person events were the last thing on anyone’s mind. By December, it was official.
“We won’t be meeting in DC in 2021,” an email from NSC Senior Network Manager Jessica Cardott read. The 19-year streak of NSC’s marquee event would be coming to an end.
“That said,” Jessica continued, “we need a critical mass of skills advocates from across the country in virtual meetings with their Congressional staff as soon as possible.”
Recovering from the worst job loss since the Great Depression would require immediate action from Congress. There was still important advocacy that needed to be done, even without a gathering in the nation’s capital.
If NSC couldn’t bring advocates to the Hill, we’d just have to bring the Hill to our advocates.
“This was an opportunity for experts to participate in the federal legislative process without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.”
As a result, the Invest in Skills campaign began, NSC’s first-ever large scale virtual Hill Day event. Over the course of six weeks, participants from across the country would meet with their Representatives from the safety of their own homes. NSC provided the space to organize, including prep calls that brought together state and local delegations.
On the agenda: NSC’s own Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery. Job creation can only be effective if we make significant investments in the training needed to fill those jobs. And to truly “Build Back Better,” we need to include everyone – especially those disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related job loss.
“Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery provided a blueprint for how data-driven skills policy focused on workers and industry create an environment where all Americans can prosper after COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Caudill McClain of the Dallas Regional Chamber. Elizabeth is a Business Leaders United (BLU) Affiliate lead, and part of a Texas delegation that met with both Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX 20th) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). “Workforce development is a key lever in the economic recovery for our region, state, and nation. This was an opportunity for experts to participate in the federal legislative process without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.”
“We need a critical mass of skills advocates from across the country in virtual meetings with their Congressional staff as soon as possible.”
Altogether, advocates took part in 180 meetings with Representatives from 45 states. “It’s a remarkable feat of activism,” said NSC Policy Analyst Caroline Treschitta. “It sends a clear message to Congress: workforce investments are an integral part of an inclusive economic recovery.”
During their meetings, participants shared their stories and asked Congress to act on four priorities:
“This campaign has helped to shift and prioritize the conversation around skills training on the Hill,” Caroline continued. “The drumbeat of advocacy from our network mobilizes members of Congress to become champions for workforce.”
Invest in Skills Hill Days is just the beginning of campaign of continued advocacy in 2021. NSC is already planning to mobilize its networks around a groundbreaking infrastructure package, a nationwide digital literacy campaign, and more.
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