New fact sheet: What the Digital Equity Act means for skills advocates

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, April 27, 2022

New fact sheet: What the Digital Equity Act means for skills advocates

As skills advocates gear up for the release of $2.75 billion in Digital Equity Act funding, National Skills Coalition is releasing a new fact sheet. Implementing the New Digital Equity Act: What Workforce and Education Advocates Need to Know provides an overview of key information related to the legislation, which passed Congress last November as part of the broader Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The fact sheet is designed for advocates in workforce boards and American Job Centers, community colleges, nonprofit community-based organizations, labor-management partnerships, adult education providers, and immigrant-serving organizations who are curious about how this new funding can support workers.

(Later this spring, NSC’s Business Leaders United affiliate will release its own fact sheet on the Digital Equity Act, designed for a business audience.)

Understanding the new funding

Over the past two years, National Skills Coalition members have vividly documented the rapid increase in digital skill demands for US workers and businesses. Using information gathered from our field, NSC’s research and policy proposals have emphasized the importance of investing in both foundational and industry-specific digital skills.

The Digital Equity Act represents an important first step in such investments. Each state will soon embark on a 12-month Digital Equity Planning process, after which both formula funding and competitive grants will be distributed by the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Some states have already gotten a jump start on this process, as highlighted in the recent Skills Blog post on digital skills developments in Colorado, Hawai’i and North Carolina.

Next steps for education and workforce advocates

NSC’s new fact sheet recommends six practical steps that skills advocates can take right away:

  1. Connect with your governor’s office or state broadband office to learn which agency has been selected as the Digital Equity Act “administering entity” for your state
  2. Ensure that state officials are aware of any digital equity work that your organization has already been undertaking
  3. Reach out to your state’s administering entity to engage with your state’s Digital Equity Planning process.
  4. Build collaborative relationships with digital inclusion advocates to develop a shared vision for digital equity in your state that includes digital skills.
  5. Educate policymakers, the media, and other stakeholders about what digital skills look like for businesses and workers in your state, and how a strong, clear vision for digital equity can help all state residents.
  6. Stay in touch with National Skills Coalition to learn about new developments in digital equity policy, obtain technical assistance to support your policy advocacy, and connect with other skills advocates working on this issue.

Get all the details in the full fact sheet, and check out the slides and recording from NSC’s March 2022 Digital Equity Act webinar.