SKILLS BLOG

The American Jobs Plan is an exciting step towards an inclusive economic recovery

By Andy Van Kleunen, March 31, 2021

We at National Skills Coalition applaud President Biden for his commitment to investing in people as central to the American Jobs Plan released this morning. This is an important first step in rebuilding America’s infrastructure and more generally creating good-paying jobs to lead us out of the COVID recession. We are particularly pleased to see the principles in our Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery framework reflected in this plan: A focus on those most impacted by the recession, including workers of color, immigrants, women and those without college degrees as well as small and mid-sized businesses.

The fact sheet released today by the White House includes some key planks that NSC and our networks called for in our Skills for Inclusive Economic Recovery Federal Policy Agenda in September and in follow-up advocacy with the Biden Administration and Congress:

  • Investing Big: The Biden plan calls for an investment of $100 billion in workforce training. This is the same figure that NSC and group of over 70 national organizations have been calling for, most recently in a letter sent to President Biden earlier this month.
  • People-Centered Infrastructure: The Biden plan puts this workforce investment into the job creation plan itself, recognizing that equitable access to retraining is essential to the success of this effort—versus waiting until another time or another bill to get around to investing in people. NSC has consistently called for this, including in a recent blog.
  • Equity as a Central Goal: The Biden plan calls for targeting workforce development opportunities for those hit hardest by the pandemic. It acknowledges the role of structural racism and persistent inequities in robbing millions of workers of economic opportunity. The plan indicates that investments in workforce training will prioritize communities hit hard by the recession. NSC has called for prioritizing investments in this way and importantly, measuring the degree to which investments reduce inequality.
  • Sector-Based Partnerships: The Biden plan cites partnerships between business, labor, community and technical colleges, and community partners as the fundamental way for channeling workforce investments. This echoes a long-standing NSC network priority: Using such partnerships for infrastructure redevelopment as well as for workforce development and re-employment policy overall.
  • New Dislocated Worker Program: The Biden plan calls for $40 billion for a new Dislocated Worker Program, a significantly greater scale than current federal investments. It includes greater intentionality to use sector partnerships, effective training practices, and wrap-around support services to give unemployed workers sufficient time and resources to transition to a new career. This approach is consistent with NSC’s call for a new 21st Century Re-Employment Accord, a proposal within our Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery Federal Policy Agenda and reiterated in technical recommendations since the November election.
  • Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses: In the same section as its workforce proposals, the Biden plan also includes a $300 billion investment in American manufacturing that prioritizes building the capacity of small businesses to be part of that revitalization. NSC’s affiliated Business Leaders United (BLU) has consistently called for this type of assistance to SMEs as an under-leveraged part of the nation’s economic recovery solution. This is also a recurrent point made by the joint NSC-BLU Industry Recovery Panels —in manufacturing, infrastructure, healthcare and retail/hospitality sectors—that are currently fine-tuning industry-based recommendations to the Biden administration.
  • Embedding pathways for workers to long-term employment: The Biden plan includes training supports, including childcare, which make it possible for workers to access jobs in infrastructure and other industries. It also explicitly connects adult education and career counseling needs to ensure the broadest pipeline of workers have access to good infrastructure jobs, consistent with National Skills Coalition’s recommendations to the administration in transition memos and in Digital Skills for an Equitable Recovery.

NSC will continue to offer details on the Biden American Jobs Plan as it is rolled out, and as Congress assesses how it will take up or adjust its framework. We’ll also continue to bring stakeholders on the ground—business leaders, unions, community organizations, community colleges, workforce boards and other advocates—into conversations with Washington policymakers on the plan and other pending recovery proposals. This will include through our Industry Recovery Panels as well as a mid-April virtual DC fly-in where our local partners will meet with their elected officials about infrastructure investments.

This is an incredibly encouraging first step by President Biden to put working people at the center of his infrastructure and job creation plan. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to make sure these provisions remain in the American Jobs Plan as it moves toward passage by Congress.