WASHINGTON, May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- JFF, a national nonprofit driving transformation in the American workforce and education systems, today announced the release of its State Policy Road Map for an Equitable Economic Recovery to help state officials craft policies that promote inclusive and sustainable economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report includes specific recommendations for how states can put people back to work, create new jobs, and revitalize local communities by redesigning education, economic development, and workforce systems in ways that close equity gaps exacerbated by the pandemic.
"The economic crisis of the past year has been particularly damaging for low-income workers and underserved communities. A dedicated focus on equity in state policy can help strengthen regional economies by ensuring that every learner and worker has an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the period of recovery to come," said David Altstadt, associate director of policy at JFF and lead author of the report. "As state leaders navigate a landscape rife with fiscal and policymaking challenges, innovative approaches being pursued in states like California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia are powerful examples of how state policymakers can help spur economic and workforce revitalization efforts that produce a more inclusive and equitable recovery from the pandemic."
Drawing on input from JFF's extensive networks of education and workforce leaders from around the country, the policy road map includes a range of recommendations for how states can help disadvantaged people rebound through targeted skill-building, financial assistance, and career navigation services. It offers strategies for how state policy can help to revive regional economies in ways that make them more inclusive and equitable than they had been in the past. Recommendations include making job-generating investments in infrastructure and distressed areas, encouraging employers to create quality jobs, and expanding access to work-based learning opportunities and rapid retraining programs that can help people develop the skills they need to find good jobs that lead to careers in stable industries.
In addition to offering specific policy recommendations, JFF released a statement applauding actions in the following five states, where pending or recently passed legislation exemplifies recommendations outlined in its state policy road map:
California: Leaders in the state legislature and in the governor's office are considering the Capital in the Community Act, which would support the development of a new class of low-interest seed funding focused on low- and moderate-income Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. Qualifying entrepreneurs would receive access to a revolving credit line of up to $32,000. The program could lead to the creation of an estimated 60,000 jobs, 4,000 Black- and Latinx-run businesses, and $3 billion in state revenue over the next 10 years. JFF cites this initiative as an example of how states can support inclusive economic development at the regional level.
Florida: The state legislature recently passed H.B. 1507 to align K-12 school systems, postsecondary institutions, and workforce agencies around common workforce development goals and to strengthen career navigation and advising support for young people, adult learners, and jobseekers.
New Jersey: The state's Economic Recovery Act (ERA) focuses on addressing the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to build a stronger and more equitable economy. The new law creates a package of tax incentives, financing options, and grant programs that promote job creation, strengthen communities, and provide financial resources for small businesses—including those impacted by the pandemic. Earlier this year, state lawmakers also made the Community College Opportunity Grant program permanent, fully covering the cost of public community college tuition for students from low- and median-income households.
Texas: Officials are considering legislation, HB 1247, that would support collaboration across state agencies to expand opportunities for high-quality work-based learning and skills training by aligning the goals of a variety of statewide initiatives under the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Virginia: The General Assembly recently passed legislation allocating $36 million to launch the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) initiative, which will ease learners' paths to attaining degrees and credentials needed for high-demand jobs by providing them with the type of holistic supports that JFF recommends in its policy road map. The package covers the "last dollar"—it helps low- and median-income students make up the gap between federal and state financial aid and the cost of tuition, fees, and books. The G3 program also includes funding for colleges to hire additional career advisors for students.
About JFF: JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For nearly 40 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. www.jff.org