Workforce Retraining Critical to Strong Economic Rebound

The COVID pandemic has upended and disrupted labor markets in profound ways. Millions of jobs lost, many that may never return. A shift to remote work is also redefining traditional workplace practices. Many workers, particularly those in lower-wage, lower-skill jobs and people of color, are being impacted the most. How we address these forces and ensure that workers hardest hit by the pandemic have the opportunity to participate in the economy will be among the most critical questions of our recovery.

The Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Julius Robinson of Union Bank and Mahesh Kharkar of U.S. Bank, this week addressed those questions and focused on the importance or retraining workers through apprenticeships and work-based learning programs as a key piece of an equitable recovery.

Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman underscored the importance of the moment to ensure a recovery builds greater opportunity for lower-income communities who have been hurt most by the pandemic. “The opportunity for our region and state to retrain the workforce will be unprecedented,” Wunderman said. “The business leadership of the Bay Area needs to play a central role in how we recover by providing training and apprenticeships for good paying jobs and careers that benefit workers across our communities.”

Committee members also heard from Abby Snay, Deputy Secretary for the Future of Work at California’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency, on state workforce priorities coming out of the pandemic and a new social compact for California workers based on the findings of the recent Future of Work Commission report. Bijal Patel, Chairman of the California Hotel & Lodging Association and Jennifer Bielstein, Executive Director at the American Conservatory Theater, joined in a discussion about the workforce outlook in hospitality and the arts.

As vaccinations in California continue to pick up pace in California, it is crucial that we begin to retrain workers and reconnect the unemployed to well-paid roles that build equitable opportunity and avert a long-term economic slowdown in the Bay Area and California. To get involved in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Policy Manager Henry Bartholomay.

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