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Skilled America Podcast

Skilled America is National Skills Coalition's podcast dedicated to today's most pressing workforce issues. Released on a bi-monthly basis, Chief of External Affairs Rachel Unruh hosts and interviews experts such as community college leaders, business owners, members of Congress, and more. Skilled America is available for download below!




Host Rachel Unruh talks with National Skills Coalition CEO Andy Van Kleunen about the state of our workforce, the lessons we've learned from the recessions of our distant - and not-so-distant - past, and how National Skills Coalition envisions an inclusive economic recovery that benefits every worker and every industry in the post-pandemic economy.

Many of the nation’s water infrastructure assets are in urgent need of repair, maintenance and restoration. And according to the Brookings Institute, water occupations pay more on average compared to all occupations nationally… but water workers tend to be older and lacking in gender and racial diversity. Juliet Ellis of SFPUC and Elizabeth Toups of JVS joined Skilled America to talk about their efforts – started long before the pandemic hit – to rethink the water utility workforce in the San Francisco Bay Area and how they're reshaping the workforce pipeline into a staple of the communities they serve.

In an episode recorded as part of a virtual briefing for Congressional staffers, Rachel Unruh talked to Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI 09) about the contact tracing proposal he and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) devised that was incorporated into the House version of the HEROES Act. She then spoke to a panel of workforce experts - Diane Factor of California's Worker Education and Resource Center, Steve Jurch of the Community College of Baltimore County, and Luann Dunsford of Michigan Works! Association - about how to make contact tracer training effective while addressing the racially inequitable impacts of Covid-19.

With unemployment numbers rising to near record levels as a result of Covid-19, a substantial investment in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure could be necessary for reinvigorating our economy and creating new jobs. For a clearer perspective on what a significant investment in infrastructure would mean for our economy - and what it would need to include to make the biggest impact for the most workers - we talked with Congressman Steven Horsford (D-NV 04) and Mark Kessenich of WRTP.

Skilled America talked to Jerry Rubin of JVS Boston and Trevi Hardy of College of Western Idaho, two people dealing with the challenge of transitioning to digital learning in response to Covid-19 in very different parts of the country, to find out how they’re adapting and what their students need as they navigate their education in the face of a global pandemic.

As cities and states seek to reduce their jail and prison populations to slow the spread of Covid-19, already stretched re-entry programs are working to address increased demand for their services. We talked to Chris Watler of the Center for Employment Opportunities in New York and Jeff Abramowitz of JEVS Human Services in Philadelphia to find out how they're dealing with the increased demand and the challenges brought to bear by the pandemic. We also chatted with Darnell Manuel, a participant of JEVS Looking Forward Philadelphia program, about his experience and what support men and women like him need both now and beyond our current circumstances.

Prior to Covid-19, the industry was already working to fill shortages in healthcare occupations at all levels of care. Skilled America talked to Van Ton-Quinlivan of Futuro Health and Daniel Bustillo of the Healthcare Career Advancement Program, or H-CAP, two people entrenched in the effort to train, upskill, and deploy a critical healthcare workforce across the country about the challenges – and solutions – accelerated by a global pandemic.

As skilled workers find themselves on the front lines of the national response to Covid-19, Skilled America talks to manufacturers Traci Tapani and Mike Tamasi about how their companies have adapted in the age of social distancing, how they've shifted production to contribute to the fight against the pandemic, and what they think about the sudden attention their essential work has brought on the industry.

How is skills advocacy making its way into the conversation around the 2020 election and the future of workforce development? In the debut episode of Skilled America, recorded live at the 2020 Skills Summit in Washington, DC, we talked to Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman of the National League of Cities, Traci Scott of the National Urban League, and Brian Turmail of the Associated General Contractors of America about how their organizations are working to bring skills to the forefront this campaign season.