While lifelong learning was a critical component to building a competitive workforce long before COVID-19, helping people find employment, re-enter the labor market, or develop new skills and competencies, has become even more urgent. Increasingly, cities recognize the importance of building equitable, accessible lifelong learning systems to help residents advance their careers.
Over the past year, the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and the Cognizant U.S. Foundation brought together local leaders, industry executives, academic institutions, training providers, and policymakers from Chicago, Ill., Phoenix, Ariz., and Hartford, Conn., to better understand how American cities can develop lifelong learning systems to support workers.
Cities have considerable assets to meet this challenge, from world-renowned educational institutions and innovative training providers to employers and nonprofit partners. Cities have an opportunity to play a larger role in helping unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers better navigate this complex landscape—in doing so, cities can build an inclusive lifelong learning system that fosters a skilled, competitive, and economically mobile workforce.