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In This Time of Crisis, We Must Step Up and Take Action to Widen Access to Good Jobs

  • Publication: 
    Markle Foundation
    Date: 
    June 29, 2020

    In This Time of Crisis, We Must Step Up and Take Action to Widen Access to Good Jobs

    We must address the broken systems that deprive so many of opportunities to gain good jobs by taking steps – as Microsoft did today – to widen access to new skills for all workers.

    As our economy and society has been transformed by the impact of COVID-19, tens of millions of people have lost their jobs or seen their earnings decline significantly – most profoundly people of color, those working low-wage jobs and those without a bachelor’s degree, who already face the greatest barriers to opportunity. We urgently need to address the widening economic divide including mitigating the growing inequality rooted in systemic racism and discrimination and fueled by the pandemic.

    At Markle, we believe it is necessary to fix the broken systems that have prevented workers from having equal access to opportunities and good jobs, and not simply return to a pre-pandemic world.

    We must rebuild our country, so people are valued, needed, and have a say in the decisions that affect them - to give equal dignity to everyone.

    While the immediate challenges for jobs and income support faced by individuals are paramount, we must enable everyone who is unable to return to work or cannot earn a good wage in their current role, to have access to the rapid, effective, and affordable training required to get good jobs in the digital economy. To do this successfully, we need to work with those most impacted by this crisis and include their voices in developing a new system of learning that is affordable, flexible, rapid and aligned to in-demand jobs.

    As technology advances, we see rapid change in the capabilities required for good paying jobs, demanding more knowledge of digital skills and an understanding of new technologies. With this comes the responsibility for tech leaders to help our workforce evolve just as rapidly, to open the door to opportunities for all. They must lead change by using the very technologies they have developed to help us to rebuild and reskill our workforce.

    The announcement made today by Microsoft to expand its commitment to helping millions of people reskill in the wake of the pandemic is a valuable step toward positive change. Microsoft is leveraging its LinkedIn and Git Hub affiliates to provide resources and expertise, from free access to digital skills training and LinkedIn learning content, to reduced cost Microsoft certifications, as well as empowering its non-profit partners to help jobseekers navigate learning and access coaches and mentors.

    Markle partnered with Microsoft three years ago (a relationship which continues today) to learn and experiment together to accelerate a skills-based labor market that enables everyone to demonstrate the skills they have, and to get the skills they need, regardless of formal education. Although we still have much more to learn, we know that workers cannot have market power without having the market recognize their talents. In particular, there must be opportunity for people of color to have their talent recognized and to be fully equal participants in this new economy.

    As we look to adapt our lives and reopen business in a time of social distancing, it is important that the return to economic activity better positions all American workers for success. When technology companies, like Microsoft, take important steps to help people to gain digital skills, they begin to open the door to many opportunities in both work and life for these individuals. We need to renew our commitment as a country to do better, and to start by helping our workers to return to good jobs or retrain for new roles. At Markle, we are passionately committed to enabling workers to have market power and the support they need to attain equal dignity in America.

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