Connecting state and local government leaders
As the pandemic subsides, county leaders are transitioning from reactive problem-solving to proactive planning to address the future of work.
A new report from the National Association of Counties highlights six key areas where counties can help improve the local workforce after the Covid-19 pandemic wanes.
One area is idea sharing between counties on targeted topics such as solutions that can incorporate Workforce and Opportunity Act funding. Local governments can also provide support and programs for retraining workers and engaging with local Workforce Development Boards and other partnerships. A NACo survey found that 62% of county leaders surveyed believe information sharing on cultivating partnerships will help advance engagement with the boards.
Other areas cited by in the NACo report are allocating resources for low-income residents and people of color, as well as gathering information about funding opportunities and economic recovery planning. Of the county leaders surveyed, 85% said they need additional information about sustained funding opportunities.
Moreover, the report points to resources and partnerships for enhancing broadband access to bridge the digital divide. According to the report, broadband infrastructure is an integral part of planning for the future of work and will be an important component of the post-COVID local economy. NACo says counties are working to ensure all residents have broadband access, but that the share of households without broadband is greatest in the South and Central regions.
In addition to the aforementioned opportunities, there are several challenges the NACo report mentions when addressing the future of work as counties recover from the pandemic. The report highlights how Covid-19 accelerated the digital divide for older adults, and points an increased number of young people not connected to work or education.
Furthermore, the report states that counties face the challenge of ensuring equitable access for women reentering the workforce. It also notes that communities of color face disproportionate job loss and may encounter disconnects with career opportunities and economic recovery.
And because counties are employers, too, they face the same workforce issues and concerns as businesses, including whether remote work should become a permanent arrangement.
Data for the NACo report comes from a December survey of the association’s members based on 134 responses representing 116 counties across 35 states. It also includes information from three town hall conversations with 13 county leaders in January.
To see more details about the survey click here.
Brent Woodie is associate editor for Route Fifty.