Employment and Jobs

Economic Opportunities Program Newsletter, July 2021

July 30, 2021  • Economic Opportunities Program

At the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, and for our many colleagues and partners, the ongoing and intertwined health, economic, and racial justice crises bring new urgency to our work to improve access to quality jobs, options to participate in business ownership, and the freedom to pursue economic opportunity. Below we share our monthly newsletter with highlights of recent work. As always, we welcome your feedback, thoughts, and partnership in advancing inclusive opportunity and an economy in which we all can thrive. Click here to subscribe.

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News and Updates

The Latino Digital Skills Divide: Current Landscape and Call to Action

The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program and the Economic Opportunities Program have launched a new research project that aims to improve understanding of the obstacles and opportunities that Latinos face to better integrate them into the digital economy. Through the project, funded by Google.org, our programs are engaging with firms that employ Latinos across the retail, construction, hospitality, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors to identify the digital skills that these industries need in a changing economy. The project also aims to bring to light promising business practices and ecosystem approaches to developing the digital skills of the Latino workforce and, in turn, increase productivity and profitability that benefits both the local and national economy. Read the announcement.

Shelly Steward and others take part in a public discussion at the Council of State Government's Southern Legislative Conference

Technology, the Gig Economy, and the Future of Work

On July 12, Future of Work Initiative Director Shelly Steward took part in a policy plenary on “The Gig Economy and the Workforce of the Future.” The discussion, part of the Council of State Governments’ Southern Legislative Conference, explored the “gigification” of the economy and innovative policy responses to the challenges that it poses. Steward spoke alongside Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair (West Virginia), Representative Jason Saine (North Carolina), Brice Brewer (Amazon), Casey Aden-Wansbury (Instacart), Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean (DoorDash), and moderator Randy McNally, lieutenant governor and speaker of the senate in Tennessee. Learn more about the conference.

The following day, July 13, Steward spoke at a session on “Technology and the Workforce,” part of Government Executive’s virtual summit, “Future of Work: Reimagining Government for the Next Crisis.” Moderated by Nextgov Staff Correspondent Brandi Vincent, the conversation explored technical, ethical, and policy focused questions around the increasingly complex relationship between technology and the workplace. During her remarks, Steward discussed the impact of innovation on the workforce and the unexpected questions leaders should consider during their implementation. Watch the discussion. (Registration required)

Workforce Leadership Academies in the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network. as.pn/wla

Using Data to Advance Workforce Development in Phoenix

This month, the Greater Phoenix Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows talked data during the second of five virtual sessions. Rachel Vilsack, a senior fellow at the National Skills Coalition, shared strategies designed to leverage shared data as a tool for systems-level change and greater workforce investments and outcomes. Holly Kurtz — director of workforce development for our site partner, the Center for the Future of Arizona — moderated an interactive panel discussion with local advisory council members Kolu Wilson (Arizona Commerce Authority), Elizabeth “E” Cole (Rio Salado College), and Victor Contreras (Chicanos Por La Causa). Participants offered their insights, informed by their unique positions within the Greater Phoenix workforce ecosystem, on their vision for the more cohesive and equitable ecosystem, as well as challenges and current and potential solutions. During our August recess, Fellows will begin personal reflections through a 360-degree leadership assessment. Please stay tuned for updates this fall when Fellows will reconvene to focus on collaborative partnerships.

EOP Joins the Workforce Innovation Network

This month, EOP joined the National Governors Association (NGA) Workforce Innovation Network (WIN), a nonpartisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders committed to building an inclusive and resilient workforce and leading an equitable post-pandemic recovery. EOP is among more than 20 new philanthropic supporters, subject matter experts, practitioners, and industry leaders that have signed on to assist governors and state leaders in their workforce innovation efforts through future grants and technical assistance. NGA will convene all NGA WIN advisors to amplify one another’s resources, tools, and programs, exchange best practices, and collaborate in support of governors and state leaders who are committed to transforming their workforce systems for a more equitable and prosperous future. Read the press release.

Photo of Jenny Weissbourd

Advancing Job Quality and Worker Voice in Colorado and Beyond

On July 15, Workforce Strategies Initiative Associate Director Jenny Weissbourd joined a discussion hosted by the Colorado Workforce Development Council that brought together state workforce leaders in Colorado preparing to launch the state’s new job quality initiative. Weissbourd joined Andy Hall from San Diego Workforce Partnership (a Reimagine Retail partner) and Audrey Treasure from the Workforce Innovation Center to share practical approaches that workforce leaders can take to advance job quality. The discussion also included remarks from Job Quality Fellow Liddy Romero, along with Aon’s Dan Weinstein.

Yoorie Chang

On July 28, Weissbourd and Workforce Strategies Initiative Research Assistant Yoorie Chang presented strategies and tools for engaging frontline workers at FSG Talent Rewire‘s Community Conversation on Advancing Worker Voice. Talent Rewire’s Community Conversations series convenes employers looking to strengthen workforce practices to drive business value, including current and past participants of their Accelerator and Innovation Lab programs. The session also featured Tom Wagner, co-owner of Well Crafted Pizza, featured in our publication on Seven Workforce Questions that are Top of Mind During COVID-19, who spoke about their experience gathering and responding to worker feedback.

Photo of Natalie Foster

The Essentials: Creating Caring Cities

On July 29, Future of Work Initiative Senior Fellow Natalie Foster participated in a discussion on “The Essentials: Creating Caring Cities.” Part of Route Fifty’s “Future Cities” conference, the session explored how city governments can ensure their essential workers earn a living wage and examined the holistic picture of care required to ensure the health, wellness, and safety of workers and their families. Foster spoke alongside Dr. Ramesh Kolluru (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Dr. Raju Gottumukkala (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Madeline Neighly (Economic Security Project), and Job Quality Fellow Palak Shah (National Domestic Workers Alliance). Watch the discussion. (Registration required)

Upcoming Events

EOP will continue to host virtual events and webinars this season. Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to learn when new opportunities are available.

Join the conversation

Follow EOP on social media to join the conversation!

Today we’re proud to join the @NatlGovsAssoc #Workforce Innovation Network! We’re excited to work with our partner organizations in expanding opportunity and enhancing #jobquality for all workers.

-Workforce Strategies Initiative @AspenWorkforce

“The issue of access to capital for #smallbiz, and for business owners of color especially, was an issue before the pandemic began and will continue after it is over… We need to help them to recover and grow, and #CDFIs will be critical.” @Aspen_BOI

-Business Ownership Initiative @Aspen_BOI

We’re thrilled to join the @NatlGovsAssoc Workforce Innovation Network! In addition to improving #jobquality and helping workers access essential supports, the Network’s goals include “Advancing digital access and skill development.” #upskilling

-UpSkill America @upskillamerica

Compared to findings from 2019, 30% of #gigworkers reported that “…they earned less money from and spent less time on gig work in the last month” on this year’s SHED from @federalreserve. Read more from @yooriechang: https://gigeconomydata.org/blog/2020-shed-report-offers-glimpse-gig-work-during-pandemic @AspenFutureWork

-Future of Work Initiative @AspenFutureWork

About EOP

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. We recognize that race, gender, and place intersect with and intensify the challenge of economic inequality and we address these dynamics by advancing an inclusive vision of economic justice. For over 25 years, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. For more information, visit as.pn/eop.

EOP has several initiatives, including the Business Ownership Initiative, Workforce Strategies Initiative, UpSkill America, Good Companies/Good Jobs, and the Future of Work Initiative. In addition, across these approaches EOP hosts the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network and the Opportunity in America event series.

Thank you to our many partners and funders for supporting our efforts.

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