A Vision for a National Work Strategy

A National Work Strategy could provide the following benefits:

  • Coherent strategies for connecting the various initiatives focused on re-employing U.S. workers during the response to and recovery from the pandemic.
  • Coherent strategies for encouraging a constantly-relevant and -employed workforce.
  • Reducing significant talent demand gaps for hirers.
  • Highlighting the specific needs of disadvantaged populations, and forwarding consistent strategies for addressing those needs.
  • A set of consistent frameworks and guidelines to help U.S. regions, states, counties, parishes, cities and towns to follow effective strategies.
  • Guiding the development of disruptive technologies to illuminate, understand, and mitigate their impact on human work.
  • Encouraging data standards that accurately reflect the state of work in the U.S.

We expect that the Coalition would include representatives across the entire spectrum of the arenas of work and learning, including public, private, education, foundation, and non-profit/NGO sectors.

Key questions include:

  • Who should be involved in helping to craft a National Work Strategy? What existing stakeholders and public agencies should initially be involved, and which should be involved as the initiative grows?
  • What are the key rights for workers? How should these rights be encouraged and guaranteed? Should there be a Worker Bill of Rights that is continually updated?
  • What constitutes a living wage, and where?
  • How will the U.S. ensure that there is a broadly-available and consistently-applied safety net for workers?
  • How can the rapidly-changing workforce needs of employers be more effectively met?
  • How can cross-sector coordination be dramatically improved?
  • What is needed to help rural and urban communities to deal with an ongoing lack of stable, well-paid work?
  • What is the role of K12, college, and adult education in a National Workforce Plan? What mechanisms are needed to help workers have the financial and other support needed to continually learn what is needed for tomorrow’s work?
  • What learnings from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic should be infused into or reinforced in a national work strategy? For example, how can worker health and safety be continually protected?
  • How can we as a country help large numbers of workers affected by shrinking industries and work to continually prepare for the shift to in-demand industries and work?
  • How can a National Work Strategy process be sustainable through coming years, lasting through changes in government leadership?
  • How can the availability of good jobs be increased, and the precarity and uncertainty of less-good work be reduced? What is the ideal ongoing balance between flexibility and precarity in non-standard (often called gig) work?
  • What new approaches need to be developed to help avoid mass layoffs, while enabling organizations to have the flexibility they need to manage under constantly-changing business conditions?
  • What new strategies and practices are needed to ensure inclusive hiring and development of workers?
  • How can a National Work Strategy incorporate an understanding of the potential impact of technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics on work? How can such an understanding be continually updated?
  • What new forms of collective worker voice, action and representation are needed to continually balance the power dynamic with employers?
  • How can industry continually indicate its changing needs for a well-trained workforce? How can we design an ecosystem that can rapidly close “the learning gap” to ensure needed talent is as available as possible?
  • How can we ensure that the nation will continually put people first, and commit to strategies and policies that are people-centric?
  • How should worker policies and practices be coordinated with antitrust and other marketplace functions to ensure that worker rights are continually protected?
  • How can all worker-related strategies remain anchored in evidence-based research and practice? What information is needed to ensure that we have the most accurate data to change practices and policies?
  • How can entrepreneurship be more effectively encouraged to serve as a critical job-creation engine?

A Rich Existing Ecosystem

There are already many existing stakeholders and initiatives focused on everything from workforce strategies for specific industries, to programs geared towards helping to re-employ those who have become unemployed or under-employed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And in recent years, there have been many important efforts to conduct research and make recommendations related to the American workforce, including Markle Foundation’s ReWork America, New America Foundation’s Shift Commission, and (outside the U.S.) the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative. However, we know of no national American effort to knit together the many relevant groups and initiatives to create a coherent, inclusive-created, and widely-supported National Work Strategy.

Parallel efforts in other countries include:

  • The Future of Work Commission in the UK issued a call in June 2020 for a National Work Strategy.
  • Also in June 2020, the UAE launched its Golden 50 initiative for the next five decades, which includes a national work strategy.

Creating a National Work Coalition

We believe that a national coalition is needed to catalyze the work of drafting a National Work Strategy. The National Work Coalition will initially be composed of a small group of representative stakeholders, eventually scaling to incorporate a broad ecosystem of national, regional, state, county, parish, city, and town stakeholders.

Short-term, we envision:

  • A small founding group will help shape the plan for the Coalition and the Strategy.
  • A series of virtual design salons will channel the efforts of the founding group as it grows.
  • A living database will be built that will continually grow with committed and suggested members of the Coalition.
  • One or more anchor funders will commit to supporting the early stages of the Coalition’s development.
  • Once its founding principles and process are solidified, the Coalition will rapidly scale to begin involving a broader “coalition of the willing.”
  • At that point, the creation of information products such as newsletters and articles to openly publish the work of the Coalition.

Long-term, we envision:

  • A self-sustaining National Work Coalition that will be continually committed to updating recommendations for the National Work Strategy.
  • A self-sustaining networked ecosystem of stakeholders at the local and state levels to feed requirements, strategies, and data to the National Work Coalition, and to receive synthesized information and strategies from the Coalition’s work to integrate that information.
  • A set of funding sources ranging from industry to government to support specific research, programs, and initiatives related to the National Work Strategy.
  • A set of committed partners to perform that work.

To learn more

U.S. Work Coalition

© 2020