20 States Join Network to Identify and Scale Strategies to Help Workers Succeed in a Post-Pandemic Economy

National Governors Association, American Association of Community Colleges Launch Reskilling and Recovery Network

As America’s workers face unprecedented disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 states are committed to a new network linking governors’ offices, community colleges and workforce leaders to equip workers to successfully navigate transformational changes in the economy.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) today announced the launch of the Reskilling and Recovery Network with support from Lumina Foundation and the Siemens Foundation. Through the end of the year, the network will join state and community college institutional leaders to offer targeted assistance and identify fast strategies to give workers the skills necessary to succeed in an economy reshaped by the pandemic.

The states in the network are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

COVID-19 and measures taken to limit the transmission of the coronavirus, including widespread business closures, have led to 14 million jobs lost in the United States. The national unemployment rate increased from 3.8 percent in February to 11.1 percent in June.

The pandemic has disproportionately affected lower-income workers who are concentrated in service-sector jobs that do not lend themselves to telework. According to the Federal Reserve, among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.

Women and communities of color have also borne disproportionate impacts. The Reskilling and Recovery Network will strive to address equity disparities that have increased during the economic and health crisis.

“Governors across the country have been taking steps to prepare their residents for the jobs of the future, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes this effort much more urgent,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center. “Working with the community colleges in their states, governors are poised to take action to both alleviate the economic impact of COVID-19 and prepare all workers for the needs of the economy when the pandemic subsides. The support of the Siemens Foundation and Lumina Foundation has been invaluable to bringing about this important partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges.”

“The nation’s community colleges are essential to developing a strong workforce,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO. “Working directly with government leaders to wholly address the needs of workers and businesses will benefit students, local economies and the nation’s workforce. This work is critical to economic recovery and we are proud to partner with NGA and grateful to our funding partners that recognize that success will only come from an intentional, collective and bipartisan effort.”

Through the network, participating states will:

• Engage with a collaborative network of like-minded state leaders to strategize economic and workforce recovery efforts;

• Receive access to innovative tools designed by peers in the field and be paired with experts engaged by the NGA Center and AACC; and

• Access technical assistance including webinars, facilitated peer-to-peer learning, virtual state site visits, and more.

Education Strategy Group and the National Association of Workforce Boards will work with NGA and the AACC on the network.

“This is a critical moment for states, educational leaders and employers to work together to advance an inclusive workforce agenda that doesn’t leave anyone behind,” said Barbara Humpton, chair of the Siemens Foundation and CEO of Siemens USA. “The Reskilling and Recovery Network will support the development of a coordinated response to engage and cultivate the full range of talent across society, helping people access fulfilling, well-paying careers.”

“States and their higher education institutions will need to collaborate to quickly prepare workers for available jobs,” noted Chauncy Lennon, vice president for the future of learning and work at Lumina Foundation. “We expect a surge in community college enrollments especially, as dislocated workers and other adults seek retraining and upskilling. Workers in low-wage jobs, many still struggling to recover from the previous recession, are once again the most severely affected and will depend on training in community colleges for new and better jobs.”