California EDGE Coalition Policy Priorities

Updated April 29, 2020

These are unprecedented times that require us to think more broadly than a single state, and more long-term than a single legislative session. Given the current crisis, federal and state lawmakers must take the lead in advancing policies and actions to protect our most vulnerable communities by rebuilding a strong economy and preparing them to fully and gainfully participate in it once the pandemic finally passes.

Immediately, we need to create a safety net for low-income adult students and workers, keep colleges functioning and support their move to online instruction, and work with our industry partners to stabilize their workforce. Longer-term, as the crisis begins to wane, we need a bold approach to rebuild our economy and workforce that includes supporting innovation and ingenuity; rethinking how we train workers and incentivizing companies to remain job creators and career builders.

Events are unfolding so rapidly that the recommendations we make today may certainly need to be revised as the crisis unfolds, however, outlined below are policies we envision will be needed now and in the near future:

Short-Term Priorities

Federal

1. Provide comprehensive income, healthcare, and training support to all displaced workers.
2. Provide emergency financial aid to students and colleges.
3. Continue economic stimulus efforts that help employers, including small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits, avert layoffs and keep their employees.
4. Provide employer incentives to increase worker training and upskilling to meet the demands of a recovering and changing economy.
5. Increase Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding linked to employment opportunities that address immediate shortages in industries needed to respond to the crisis like healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing that are essential to responding to COVID 19.
6. Include in subsequent stimulus legislation support to educational institutions and students to cope with the impact of the pandemic, with particular emphasis on community colleges that provide workforce training programs in sectors needed for the recovery.

State

1. Ensure that California’s unemployment insurance program provides timely benefits and is responsive to the needs of unemployed workers, including the self-employed as provided by the federal CARES Act.
2. Implement state policies to provide low-income students the financial resources to continue their education and complete their certificate and degree programs.
3. Expand safety net services for low-income students in education and training programs, to address needs such as food, housing, transportation, childcare, and healthcare that will enable them to complete their programs of study.
4. Ensure equity in the delivery of services as colleges and training programs move to online instruction by providing support and technology tools needed for success. These resources should include support for increased digital learning; student advise and personal support; and opportunities for engagement with other students, and the exploration of avenues to expand broadband access, including partnerships with the private sector.
5. Provide economic stimulus support, including grants, incentives and low/no-interest or deferred interest loans, to assist businesses in rebuilding capacity and retaining their workforce. Provide guidance that promotes flexibility in compliance with CDC social distancing and hygiene requirements.
6. Protect existing apprenticeship programs by adapting and continuing classroom instruction in an online format, when feasible, and support economic stimulus efforts to create the on the job training opportunities apprentices need to journey through their apprenticeship program.
7. Provide employer incentives to increase worker training and upskilling to meet the demands of a recovering and changing economy.
8. Maintain investments in public education and workforce development systems so that they have the capacity to meet training and skill development needs for the recovery.

Longer-Term Priorities

Federal

1. Implement a major effort to rebuild the nation’s economic capacity to support the replacement of lost jobs, and the maintenance of existing jobs while incentivizing the creation of new career opportunities.
2. Recognize the need for technical skills as an essential component of America’s economy and increase funding for comprehensive education, training and support services that directly lead to employment, with an emphasis on those who have lost their jobs, are low-income, and/or who have historically faced discrimination and barriers to high-wage employment.
3. Expand direct aid to students and expand Pell eligibility to include Pell for students enrolled in shorter term workforce-oriented programs and overturn the ban on Pell for incarcerated students.
4. Provide relief for student borrowers.
5. Provide employer incentives to increase worker training and upskilling to meet the demands of a recovering and changing economy.
6. Reimagine the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to address remaining shortages in industries needed that respond to the COVID-19 crisis and a recovering economy. Such steps should include expanding its application, increasing and diversifying its funding, and linking funding to training and work-based learning programs that directly lead to employment.

State

1. Ensure community colleges have the capacity, including funding for relevant curriculum, program offerings, student supports and industry partnerships, to respond to Californian’s need for training and upskilling, especially in high demand and growth sectors of the state’s economy.
2. Retool California’s financial aid program to ensure equity for the adult workers who have lost their jobs and need to return to school to have pathways back into the labor market as well as for working students who must combine work and parenting while attending school.
3. Expand funding for work-based training opportunities, including non-traditional delivery models, and ensure that dislocated workers are prioritized for this funding and that programs lead directly to employment.
4. Explore the implementation of online training and apprenticeships in fields such as medical coding, medical transcription, pharmacy techs, cyber technicians, software development, pharmaceutical and biotech, medical devices, mechanical and electrical engineering, compliance and quality management and other critical fields.
5. Integrate competency-based occupational frameworks into course offerings to tailor programs to industry demands and student needs.
6. Expand credit for prior learning and experience to help accelerate training and retraining programs.
7. Augment state-level funding for the Employment Training Panel to serve more companies.
8. Continue development of an integrated longitudinal state data system across California’s education, workforce, and human services systems.

COVID-19: Click here for resources related to the Coronavirus.

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