Multi-agency Initiative Geared to Open Opportunities for Workers

Jerry Ashworth
November 17, 2020 at 15:25:46 ET
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For now, we will file this under the “For whatever it’s worth” category in light of the fact that the Trump administration will give way to the Biden administration in January, and the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase exponentially, so any “post-coronavirus” consideration may be premature.

However, the departments of Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL) this month launched the “Engaging as One Workforce for America" initiative, which is designed to "help more families experience the benefits of work in a post-coronavirus economic recovery." HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service aim to increase the capacity of state and local governments to: (1) engage unemployed individuals to shorten durations of unemployment and reduce disconnections from the workforce that make it harder for individuals to return; and (2) connect to the workforce those who were not participating in the labor force prior to the pandemic through a comprehensive and coordinated public and private effort.

The agencies seek to encourage states and local communities to coordinate and maximize resources and technical assistance across federal, state and local funding streams, as well as from the private sector, to support training, employment services and social supports to increase access to employment opportunities. “Developing an integrated local partnership system that serves Americans who have been most affected by the pandemic is critical,” said ETA Assistant Secretary John Pallasch. “This initiative encourages states to coordinate funding and leverage resources available to create a one workforce system that will more efficiently and effectively move Americans off the economic sidelines and toward the dignity of work.”

The three agencies will initially work with a small number of states to pilot cross-program strategies to help individuals affected by COVID-19 disruptions to access re­employment services, training and social supports to help them enter, re-enter and remain in the workforce. This includes leveraging federal funds and program opportunities from within their agencies Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Employment and Training. The agencies will provide technical assistance, identify potential funding sources, coordinate efforts and bring other federal partners in to assist.

The aim of the initiative seems admirable. Whether it has legs remains to be seen.

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