Workforce Innovation Network

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped large segments of the U.S. economy, resulting in the rapid loss of 20 million jobs and the closure and bankruptcy of thousands of small businesses, while accelerating trends toward automation and remote work. Governors have worked to secure assistance for displaced workers and affected businesses, meanwhile building new frameworks and interventions to support a more equitable economic recovery. As Governors lead efforts to promote equitable and forward-looking economic recovery in their states and territories, the Workforce Innovation Network helps facilitate innovative state-level policy solutions that improve employment and workforce outcomes.

The Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN) is helping states build capacity for near-term innovation and longer-term strategy to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID-19 economy. NGA WIN serves as a non-partisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders who have demonstrated strong commitments to building a resilient workforce.

The Network is dedicated to:

  • Expanding access to essential support services
  • Rapidly connecting jobseekers to work
  • Advancing digital access and skill development
  • Enhancing job quality for all workers

With support from the Cognizant FoundationIntelMicrosoft, Walmart, and Western Governors University, NGA is pleased to announce a second round of funding available from the Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN) and Workforce Innovation Fund. Launched in January with founding sponsorship from the Cognization Foundation, NGA WIN is dedicated to helping states respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on the labor market and improve employment and workforce outcomes. 

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    Network News

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    “North Dakota’s workforce shortage remains the No. 1 barrier to economic growth in our state, and joining the NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network will help us ensure that North Dakotans have the digital skills they need to enter the workforce, pursue education or seek training opportunities.”

    Doug Burgum

    "I am proud that Rhode Island is being nationally recognized for its forward-thinking solutions to driving business and getting Rhode Islanders back to work. This opportunity through NGA WIN will help keep our momentum going as we continue our economic recovery and train Rhode Islanders with the skills they need to secure better-paying jobs."

    Dan McKee

    “I am committed to strengthening our state’s workforce and am proud to support the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission in this initiative. We have made intentional decisions over the last 19 months to help get Oklahomans back to work, adding countless jobs to the workforce and reducing our unemployment to one of the lowest in the nation. I look forward to making even more great strides in the future through this partnership."

    Kevin Stitt

    “The pandemic is shining a bright light on the critical need for digital literacy. By joining the Workforce Innovation Network, we can help North Carolina employees gain the skills employers need them to have so people in the workforce are better paid and more effective for their companies."

    Roy Cooper

    “We have a strong team that includes diverse stakeholders with expertise to advance a coordinated strategic approach to digital equity throughout the state. This grant supports our shared vision of a diversified economy with a focus on digital access and equity.”

    David Ige

    "We either strengthen workforce development or we risk falling behind. We must be bold and ambitious and break from the status quo."

    Tom Wolf
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    State Innovations

    • Spring 2021 Grantees - Coordinating Service Delivery for Jobseekers and Families
    • Fall 2021 Grantees – Advancing Digital Skill Development

    Round 1: Coordinating Service Delivery for Jobseekers and Families

    From March – July 2021, 10 states adopted a unique design to improve coordinated service delivery for jobseekers, with a goal of improving workforce and employment outcomes. State grantees applied an innovation design framework to identify and close gaps in jobseeker service delivery and connect jobseekers to education, work, or training in alignment with state workforce and economic recovery goals. Themes explored include human-centered design, data governance and sharing, local workforce area capacity building, and workforce system rebranding and marketing.

    Lessons Learned In Workforce Innovation: How Ten Governors are Redesigning Workforce Systems for Better Employment Outcomes

    To help states build capacity for innovation and interventions across the workforce system to support a more equitable economic recovery, ten Governors were selected to join the inaugural cohort of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN). Each state carried out a unique initiative aligned with its Governor’s workforce and economic recovery goals. This brief includes case studies of state objectives, activities, and outcomes achieved during the grant period.

    Round 2: Advancing Digital Skill Development for Equitable Economic Participation

    State grantees will receive grant funding and technical assistance to advance digital skill development for equitable economic participation in alignment with state workforce and economic development goals. The NGA Center will engage staff and subject matter experts to provide targeted technical assistance to Hawaii, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island from November 2021 – June 2022.

    Lessons Learned In Workforce Innovation: How Six States Are Planning To Advance Digital Skills For Equitable Economic Participation

    To help states develop innovative, long-term plans to close digital skills gaps, meet employers’ talent needs and develop a workforce that is more resilient in the face of digital transformation, six Governors were selected to join the second cohort of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN). Each state developed a strategic plan to increase digital skills attainment in alignment with their Governor’s workforce and economic development goals.

    This brief includes lessons learned and case studies of state innovations achieved during the grant period and a framework for other states to develop their own plan to advance digital skills.

    Using Data To Advance Digital Skills: A State Playbook

    The Digital Equity Act (DEA), a provision within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Public Law 117–58), includes a historic federal investment to promote digital equity, literacy, and inclusion. In particular, the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program will award nearly $1.5 billion in federal funds to states to support the development and implementation of Digital Equity Plans to promote digital equity and digital skill development. Governors have authority to select the entity that administers these plans and may select one of many eligible entities to implement the host of new grant programs that, together, can help states close the digital divide through promoting access, affordability, and adoption of digital technologies. To assist states in closing digital skill gaps and preparing for digital equity planning, this brief offers key questions and resources for state leaders to consider.

    Leveraging The Digital Equity Act To Advance Digital Skills: A Guide For Business Leaders To Partner With State Policymakers

    Nearly one-third of workers in the United States lack digital skills, creating talent and growth issues for businesses of all sizes. The Digital Equity Act will deploy $2.75 billion to advance foundational and industry-specific digital skills. As state policymakers prepare plans to bridge the digital divide, employers can help them better understand the digital skills gap and collaborate on solutions. This guide, developed in partnership between UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Workforce Innovation Network, offers three key strategies and accompanying guiding questions for employers to contribute to DEA planning and implementation.

    Workforce Innovation Resource Hub

    Resources from Workforce Innovation Network Advisors and Partners

    Digital Access and Skill Development

    Resource Libraries from WIN Network Members

    Workforce Innovation Network Advisors and Partners

    The Workforce Innovation Network, State Roadmap for Workforce Recovery publication, and Creating an Agenda for Workforce Recovery workshop series are generously supported by the Cognizant Foundation.

    “As we continue to address the inequities stemming from COVID’s economic impact, Governors will play a critical role in deploying workforce strategies in communities across the country. We look forward to seeing this network evolve as states build, implement and share innovative workforce strategies that get people back to work and into family-sustaining wages.”

    Kristen Titus, Executive Director, Cognizant Foundation

    State Roadmap For Workforce Recovery

    In the Fall of 2020, the NGA Center hosted Creating an Agenda for Workforce Recovery, a four-part design workshop series to help states frame key challenges faced by their workforce, define short- and long-term recovery goals, and foster innovation and teamwork to improve workforce outcomes. Content and conversations gathered from more than 100 state and industry leaders during this series have been compiled in the State Roadmap for Workforce Recovery. This roadmap offers a first-of-its-kind framework for organizing state workforce response and recovery activities to accomplish four critical objectives that can support a stronger and more equitable post-pandemic future:

    • Expand access to essential support services
    • Rapidly connect jobseekers to work
    • Advance digital access and skill development
    • Enhance job quality for all

    For each of these four objectives, the roadmap organizes state planning activities and policy strategies across three essential phases of recovery: Respond, Restart, and Recover. Evidence already demonstrates that states will necessarily transition between these phases at different times and may propose varying definitions of these phases in their recovery plans. For this reason, this roadmap is not intended to specify a single or linear path. Instead, it offers a framework for addressing these four critical objectives in a way that will support a strong and equitable recovery.

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