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Commerce Secretary Says Equity a Big Part of $3B Digital Skills Development Initiative

Workforce enhancement


Commerce Secretary Says Equity a Big Part of $3B Digital Skills Development Initiative

The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has launched a new economic development initiative to address challenges companies face when scouting talent to fill cybersecurity vacancies and other positions requiring digital skills. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the move responds to frequent complaints by companies about the lack of sufficiently skilled workers.

Raimondo announced the initiative’s launch at the White House on July 22, stressing the importance equity will play in deciding who wins access to $3 billion in funding being made available through the American Rescue Plan Act.  She noted the big skills gap in the labor market today, which is why half of the budget has been earmarked for skills development alone.

The cabinet official said that the Biden administration will make sure that women, people of color as well as people in rural areas will have equal access to digital skills “so they can get those good jobs.”

It was explained that the private companies themselves will not be eligible to receive any of the funding. The money will go to state and local governments, colleges and universities, non-profits, tribes and unions whose applications lay out the best plans for achieving equity, Raimondo said.

The commerce secretary emphasized that what the government is trying to create is a competitive grant process. She said those vying for financial support need to prove that they have an “equity lens” to make sure that women, people of color, veterans and people who have been left out will be included in the program.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the inclusion of more talented people from diverse backgrounds has been seen as a possible solution to the lack of digitally skilled workers. The skills gap is associated with a shortfall of more than 300,000 workers across the country, NextGov reported Friday.

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Category: Federal Civilian

Tags: Chris DeRusha Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration federal civilian Gina Raimondo Nextgov workforce