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How America Can Build Back Better for Everyone: A Guide for the Biden Transition Team to Help Build an Inclusive Economic Recovery 

  ·   By Andy Van Kleunen,
How America Can Build Back Better for Everyone: A Guide for the Biden Transition Team to Help Build an Inclusive Economic Recovery 

The promise of America is based on a fundamental principle that no matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, achieve their aspirations, and live the American Dream. But we all know that the pursuit of that American Dream has been a nightmare for too many families for too long. Decades of structural racism in public policy continues to perpetuate racial inequality in every aspect of American life from education and employment to housing, health care and beyond. 

These inequities have been further exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on workers of color, women, immigrants, and workers with a high school degree or less – all of whom have shouldered the greatest job losses in what has been the most unequal recession in modern American history. Not to mention the shuttered small businesses all across the country, including millions of minority-owned small businesses.  

This is the economy that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will face. National Skills Coalition – and our network of business leaders, labor leaders, community advocates and community colleges, and workforce and education officials – is ready to partner with the Biden Administration to advance an economic agenda that is inclusive and leads to equitable results for every worker in every industry. 

Earlier this week, NSC released Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery: An Agenda for President Biden and Congress, which includes concrete legislative proposals that would help build an inclusive economic recovery.  

Building on those ideas, NSC also provided the Biden-Harris transition teams with 10 detailed policy memos, which outline proposals that could be implemented administratively by the Biden Administration during the first year in office to transform the lives of millions of workers and businesses, and set us on a path to a truly inclusive economic recovery. 

  1. Establishing – as part of a new Economic Recovery Task Force – an interagency Sub-Task Force on Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery, which would help prioritize federal investments in education and training as part of stimulus and recovery efforts to ensure that all US workers have the skills and credentials to gain family-supporting employment while supporting US business growth. 

  1. Directing existing and new federal investments to address digital literacy gaps for 48 million US workers with limited or no digital literacy skills. 

  1. Supporting a new Assistant Secretary of Community and Technical Colleges at the Department of Education, who would be responsible for spearheading the President-Elect’s ambitious plans for expanding community college access. 

  1. Supporting the work of a new Office of New Americans within the White House, and particularly a new Skills for New Americans initiative that would focus on increasing equitable access to education and skills training opportunities for immigrants and refugees. 

  1. Refocusing apprenticeship policy on high-quality programs that lead to access and success for all workers and more businesses, and reinforcing the importance of Registered Apprenticeship and other work-based learning strategies as a way to help workers earn a wage while learning necessary skills. 

  1. Using existing Department of Labor resources to expand industry partnerships, a proven multi-stakeholder approach that helps workers enter into and advance along career pathways in key local or regional industries. 

  1. Expanding access to income supports and reskilling opportunities for workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, technological changes, or other economic disruptions. 

  1. Putting workers at the center of future infrastructure investments by advancing policies that prioritize projects that hire and train community residents for family-supporting careers. 

  1. Establishing a cross-agency data working group to support the setting and tracking of stimulus human capital goals outlined above, while also promoting data sharing, data transparency, and other policies that lead to more inclusive investments in education and training. 

  1. Reversing the Trump Administration’s cruel and ineffective policies that expand work requirements for public assistance participants, and instead focusing on building better educational and employment pathways for individuals in safety net programs. 

We have to “build back better” by including everyone. That means making sure people’s essential needs are met while they train for newly created jobs, new industries and technologies. It means investing in the people most impacted by the pandemic, and ensuring that they are better off as our economy improves. 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. 

With more than 40,000 members and subscribers, NSC has for the past 20 years regularly brought local experts to Washington to meet with federal policymakers—including then-Vice President Biden himself when he was overseeing the implementation of the Obama Administration’s Recovery effort and later its Job Driven Training agenda.

We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to achieve these ambitious goals, and to ensure that every worker and every industry can share in our nation’s economic prosperity.