California advocates connect with state leaders on the key policies needed to create an equitable and inclusive economic recovery

By India Heckstall, July 01, 2021

Skills for CA, led by NSC and the California EDGE Coalition, hosted their annual Skills for CA Summit last month. The virtual event brought together a diverse group of partners from across California to advance a collective workforce policy agenda. That agenda promotes equity, systems innovation, and pathways to good jobs.

Over 100 workforce advocates were in attendance – including representatives from business, labor, community colleges, community-based organizations, the public workforce system, and more. During the Summit, participants discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on the state’s workforce. They also shared what the network is doing to ensure an inclusive economic recovery for all Californians.

Putting Equity at the Forefront to Help all Californians Achieve their Dreams

The Summit was divided into two parts. First, participants spent two days attending a variety of discussions on skills training policy issues with leaders across the state. These sessions included discussions on job quality, addressing race and gender inequities as a part of inclusive economic recovery; expanding current job training models to underrepresented workers, and brainstorming pragmatic strategies to ensure that economic recovery centers the needs of and benefits the most vulnerable workers. Experts emphasized the need to craft solutions in partnership with the most impacted communities. They also provided recommendations for target actions that policymakers and other stakeholders/partners can move forward.

???? Watch every session from the Skills for CA Summit

Participants also had the opportunity to hear from Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-27), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. Kalra talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic did not create the inequities that we see in the state and the economy. Instead, the pandemic actually exposed and exacerbated these inequities.

”Workforce solutions should prioritize the economic needs and career aspirations of California’s most vulnerable workers and historically marginalized residents,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “Workforce development strategies should create equitable pathways to good jobs that are safe and free from discrimination and harassment, pay families supporting livable wages, welcome workers’ concerns and ideas, provide for worker advancement…and give workers stability and predictability.”

An Urgent Plea to Invest in Workforce Development Policies that Center Communities of Color

On the third and fourth days of the Summit, attendees met with elected officials and legislative staff. They urged policymakers to address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, people of color, and small and mid-sized businesses. One proposed solution to supporting an inclusive economic recovery was through infrastructure investments.

“With such a big state surplus this year, and significant aid from the federal government, now is the time to urge our State leaders to invest in California’s working families and ensure equitable policies are implemented”, said Anna Alvarado, Policy Director at the California EDGE Coalition.

Among other financial aid and supportive services requests, attendees also asked members of the CA State Legislature to:

  • Support broadband access for all;
  • Invest in apprenticeship programs; and
  • Establish a statewide data system to improve outcomes for students and adult learners.

Skills for CA wants policymakers to ensure proposed investments supporting skills training, supportive services, industry partnerships, and digital skills are approved in this legislative session.

Continue Engaging with State Leaders

Skills for CA will continue to empower the network to weigh in on and advocate for policies throughout the year. You can join Skills for CA Network and continue to advocate for an inclusive workforce in California.