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November 20, 2020

Aerial shot of man sitting on coach looking at laptop on coffee table

Millions of COVID-impacted workers are now out of work, unsure of what their futures hold or whether their jobs—or even their industries—will return. In normal times, people who find themselves out of work turn first to the nation’s vast workforce development for financial and practical assistance. But in the face of such urgent need—and at a time of unprecedented demand for digital services—the majority of workforce boards find themselves engaged in an ongoing effort to update their systems and pivot to new models of delivering training and services to the people they serve.

This is a moment of cataclysmic change for the workforce system. 

Changing how we train all Americans will happen from the ground up, not from the top down. The San Diego Workforce Partnership is leading this change in San Diego and we’re excited to be piloting technology solutions with impact aligned partners—JFF, New Profit, XPRIZE and MIT Solve—to prepare COVID impacted works for the future of work.

These organizations, alongside workforce partners spanning six states, have stepped up to address the challenge of modernizing the American workforce system with the Future of Work Grand Challenge. The goal of this equity-focused competition is to source bold ideas that will lead to innovative new ways to help displaced workers rapidly reskill so they can move into higher-wage jobs.

“Today’s public workforce system is, in many ways, characterized by contracting resources and expanding need,” says Stephen Colón, Manager of Integrated Services. “The right technology, deployed in the right way, can enable workforce boards like us to improve the quality of all our customers’ experiences by getting the greatest possible return on the public’s investment in one of our highest-value resources: our staff.”

The project will equip the U.S. workforce system with tech-driven solutions, and thereby increase the access that out-of-work Americans have to critical support and resources as they manage unemployment benefits, enroll in training and explore new career opportunities.

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