On May 15, UNITE-LA convened a virtual roundtable with 17 regional corporate responsibility leaders on how COVID-19 is impacting our education and workforce systems and the ability of corporations to remain involved in preparing the next generation of employees. Participants represented a diverse range of industries and corporations, including The Boeing Company, City National Bank, Dolby, Majestic Realty, Paramount Pictures, Riot Games, The Walt Disney Company and Wells Fargo.
During the roundtable, leaders shared some of the challenges their companies are facing in remaining connected to youth and organizations that support education and workforce development programs in the community. Many of these companies have switched to virtual platforms in order to continue supporting education and workforce development initiatives in the Los Angeles region.
UNITE-LA’s President and CEO, David Rattray, led the conversation and provided specific examples of some of the challenges we are seeing, including:
- Child care and preschool closures and the added burden on child care providers in meeting new health and safety guidelines with limited public funding,
- The K-12 digital divide, particularly for students of color, citing that only 20 percent of youth in public education have access to devices and/or broadband connectivity for continued learning,
- The digital disconnect for educators who lack the professional technological skills to lead meaningful online instruction,
- The disruption to traditional summer learning, including summer school, credit recovery, summer jobs and internships,
- The impact on high school graduates transitioning into higher education and challenges faced, particularly by low income and working-class families to forgo or postpone college because of job loss and/or reduction of family income,
- The impact on community college to university transfer students due to systems disruptions faced by near completers and limited online courses and limited employment opportunities for college graduates,
- The lack of adaptability and virtual solutions for working, licensed professionals in regulated industries to access professional certificates and licenses,
- The recessional economy, workforce disruptions with a nearly 15 percent unemployment rate, is further complicated by the lack of accessibility to upskilling and training opportunities needed to meet employer needs in a struggling economy, and
- The need for business leaders to help re-imagine how we recover and re-open our economy.
To inform our future engagement and better gauge the interest of roundtable participants in specific cradle-to-career education and workforce development issues, the group was polled and expressed interest in the following cradle-to-career areas:
- Early Care and Education (4)
- K-12 (7)
- Higher Education (7)
- Workforce (8)
- Immigration (4)
As UNITE-LA continues to engage business leaders through its newly formed talent development initiative, the organization will examine how we can continue to support the role of corporate responsibility leaders and provide them with timely information to inform their work in our community.
For more information, contact UNITE-LA’s Sr. Director of Business Education Partnerships, Bridget Netter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.