Leveraging the Digital Equity Act To Advance Digital Skills

This guide offers three key strategies and guiding questions for employers to contribute to Digital Equity Act planning and implementation, as well as strategies for state policymakers to support and collaborate with employers in exploring these key questions.


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A Guide for Business Leaders to Partner with State Policymakers

Nearly one-third of workers in the United States lack digital skills, and more than 38% of those workers are required to use moderate or advanced computer skills on the job. This skills gap creates talent and growth issues for businesses of all sizes — from large companies looking to grow and invest in the United States, to small and mid-size companies that employ the greatest share of workers with low or no digital skills.

To address this gap and expand access to economic opportunity, the Digital Equity Act (DEA), a provision of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will deploy $2.75 billion in grants to states. Over five years, states will apply these resources to advance foundational digital literacy and industry-specific digital skills, promote digital equity, and help workers and businesses adapt to the rapidly changing digital economy.

As state policymakers prepare plans to bridge the digital divide, employers can help them better understand the digital skills gap and collaborate on solutions to address those disparities — all while promoting digital equity and high-quality jobs. Employer input will be critical to ensure that communities can fully capitalize on these monumental investments to build a digitally resilient and high-quality workforce.

This guide, developed in partnership between UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), is a product of the NGA Workforce Innovation Network and offers three key strategies and accompanying guiding questions for employers to contribute to DEA planning and implementation:

  1. Study Your Skill Needs
  2. Tell Your Story
  3. Sustain Your Engagement

In addition, text boxes throughout this brief highlight strategies for state policymakers to support and collaborate with employers in exploring these key questions. These best practices are drawn from the delivery of technical assistance to state workforce development leaders, including those that participate in the National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs and the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, two affiliate networks supported by the NGA Center’s Workforce Development & Economic Policy Program.