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NGA offers roadmap for state leaders to build a resilient workforce

July 30, 2020

After more than a year of research and facing greater disruption to the workforce than imagined at the outset, the National Governors Association (NGA) has released a guide for governors and state policymakers to help build a technologically resilient workforce. Written before the COVID-19 outbreak, the authors of the report attest that trends previously identified will only accelerate, and thus there is even greater urgency for policy transformations that should be implemented as part of a system wide, resilient education and workforce development agenda.

With technologies like automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning disrupting the American workforce at increasing rates through their new capabilities, policies and institutions are not keeping pace with the changing demands and training. Consequently, states will not have many of the skilled workers needed to fill these future jobs. The report asserts:

Between economic shocks, demographic changes, urbanization and the impact of new technologies, creating opportunities for meaningful economic participation for all citizens is one of the great challenges of the 21st century for governors and other leaders.

Governors and state lawmakers are uniquely situated to help address equitable opportunity for all workers since many aspects of education and workforce programs are determined at the state level. The report urges that to prepare their future workforces, governors and state leaders must develop a comprehensive agenda comprised of three “transformational objectives”: Build a statewide ecosystem to promote continuous lifelong learning; invest in an agile, technologically resilient workforce; and, enable every worker to participate in the workforce of the future through comprehensive support.

To help guide the change, the NGA Center in partnership with FHI 360 and the Fab Foundation provide a road map outlining a scope of response that should include assessment, planning, resource allocation, and evaluation to prepare for the work of the future. The road map includes case studies from Alabama, Arkansas and Washington to demonstrate how states have implemented these practices to achieve change.

The guide notes that the challenges posed by technological disruption will require a “bold, systemic transformation at the state, local and institutional levels. Governors and states, regardless of governance structure, political leadership or geography, must assess their readiness for the future of work and, in partnership with all stakeholders, implement transformational policies to prepare the future workforce now.”

workforce, policy recommendations, states