POLITICO: We need to modernize our unemployment system, says NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, February 08, 2021

The United States has a disjointed unemployment system. Programs that serve dislocated workers are underfunded. They provide inconsistent benefits. And they have complicated eligibility requirements that often exclude workers of color, women, and individuals in non-traditional work structures.

That’s why NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen recently told POLITICO that we need to reboot and modernize our unemployment system. “We’ve fast-forwarded 10 years of change in the space of less than 10 months,” Andy said in recent article in POLITICO.

“We don’t really do a good job making it easy for someone who has lost their job due to no fault of their own, particularly in an industry that’s downsizing, to get into a new occupation in a new industry,” he said. “We just need a whole reboot of that.”

NSC’s agenda for President Biden and Congress outlined some policy recommendations to help modernize our unemployment and reemployment systems. They include:

  • Establishing Dislocation Reskilling Accounts of up to $15,000 per worker to invest in job training.
  • Creating a network of industry partnerships to help align training with employment opportunities in high demand industries.
  • Expanding access to support services – like affordable child care and transportation – to help workers succeed in training programs.
  • Creating a federal Reemployment Distribution Fund to expand income assistance for displaced workers.

Andy told POLITICO that businesses, community colleges, and unions must be at the table to help develop effective training programs. “People close to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Biden’s nominee for Labor secretary, say he would be on board with such a move,” the article points out.

Unfortunately millions of workers don’t have access to high-quality training that would empower them to adjust to technological shifts in the job market. About 48 million U.S. workers have only a few digital skills, or none at all.

Boosting digital literacy in the workplace requires that we invest in digital equity and inclusion. We must expand access to dependable and affordable broadband, digital devices, and digital skills training programs.