American life has always depended on people working at every level of our economy – skilled workers in growing industries like healthcare, medical technology, IT and software, and advanced manufacturing – as well as tradespeople like plumbers and electricians.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has brought that reality into sharp focus. The unsung heroes of this crisis are the men and women keeping the internet and other critical utilities up and running. They drive trucks and work in logistics and manufacturing. They are the hundreds of thousands of people risking their own health as they work in hospitals doing behind-the-scenes jobs like sanitizing and preparing rooms and equipment, and those working as medical assistants, phlebotomists, or technicians.
These folks have always been the very backbone of America’s economy – it’s never been more clear: a person’s ability to contribute doesn’t depend on a college degree.
That’s why National Skills Coalition launched Voices for Skills – a coalition of working people, students, teachers, parents, jobseekers, and businesses calling for a national commitment to significantly increasing our investment in skills training.
It’s always been true that people who want to learn an in-demand-skill often struggle to afford the training they need to step into a better career. In this economy, it will be even tougher. Nearly fifty million people have filed for unemployment – and many will have to change their field of work. Yet, less than half of Americans say they have access to the education and skills training they want and need to find family-supporting jobs.
Historically, our policymakers have been eager to invest in people who want to go to college, but there’s less help for people who want to learn a skill or a trade – even though our economy depends on people with this kind of education and training.
Skills training should be a critical piece of our country’s inclusive economic recovery plan. And, voters overwhelmingly support increasing investment in skills and technical training as a cornerstone of our nation’s economic policy.
That’s why we are calling on policymakers & candidates to invest in skills training to support people’s real career aspirations, support businesses need for skilled workers, and kickstart our country’s economy by:
- Making it easier for people to access our nation's safety net and retrain for a career.
- Helping small and mid-sized businesses avoid layoffs.
- Providing comprehensive income, healthcare, and re-training support to every displaced worker.
- Pairing local businesses with local training programs so training leads to a job.
- Updating our education and training policies to respond to the pandemic.
- Creating new, good-paying jobs and training people for them.
- Expanding digital access and improving digital learning for all.
- Releasing public data so we know everyone is recovering fully and equally.
Take a look at the key findings from our recent national poll of likely voters.
- National voter & business leader polling summary
- Veteran voter polling summary
- Investing in skills training would help veterans transition to civilian life
- Voters Nationwide Strongly Support Investing in Infrastructure to Create Jobs
- Voters Support Investing in Skills Training to Improve our Economy
Voices for Skills is a project of the National Skills Coalition, made possible in part by the generous financial support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co.