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An equitable economic recovery from the twin health care and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will not be possible without addressing the racial inequities in the labor market.
These structural inequities disadvantage Black, Latinx, and Native American workers and those without a college education, and the systems that would help these workers navigate career opportunities amidst the chaos of COVID-19 (or even pre-COVID) are broken. While we fix the workforce development system, we need to also empower workers, especially those who are disadvantaged by the system because of race, class, or level of educational attainment, to set their own trajectory for employment. Career navigation technology can play a key role in disrupting inequities in the labor market and empowering Black, Latinx, and Native American workers to more effectively navigate the changing post-COVID landscape to find good jobs and build careers.
Looking back, in the days before the COVID pandemic, we were celebrating record low unemployment rates for Black (5.4 percent) and Latinx (4.1 percent) communities. But those seemingly favorable statistics obscured significant inequities. Black and Latinx unemployment was low, but even before the pandemic Black and Latinx workers were overrepresented in low-wage work in comparison with white workers. Native American workers didn’t enjoy record low unemployment before the pandemic, and now they are bearing the brunt of the pandemic-driven recession. In particular, nearly one-third of Native American women are in low-wage occupations that are most vulnerable to job cuts. Too many people of color are extremely vulnerable to volatile labor markets: They are subject to “last hired, first fired” policies in low-wage occupations and have little opportunity for advancement. They are hit hardest by the recession and the last to benefit from the recovery.
Now, as some sectors of the economy slowly reopen, we are seeing racial inequities in the recovery, too. COVID-19 has accelerated the pace at which jobs are being automated, and this automation-driven job loss is more common in occupations held by African American and Latinx workers. Where there is hiring, white workers are getting hired back at twice the rate of Black workers; or there is hiring for “essential workers” in positions—disproportionately held by Black, Latinx, and Native American workers—in jobs that put these workers most at risk for COVID contagion.
"Career Navigation Technology 2020"
Today we believe the current moment—and the current labor market—are ready for a new technology-driven approach to career navigation that will empower millions of workers to find new and economically transformative work, at scale. We encourage practitioners, technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors to continue innovations in career navigation technology that keep communities of color at the center.
Innovators are pushing the envelope of career navigation technology that empower workers who are typically at the fringes of the labor market. Their work reveals principles that can guide the development of career navigation tools that disrupt racial inequities and help workers advance in their careers. Specifically, these career navigation tools do the following:
- Mitigate the racial bias that constrains opportunities for economic mobility
- Promote and leverage the social capital held by communities of color
- Design delivery mechanisms and business models that make career navigation technology accessible to and empowers the advancement of frontline workers
Learn more about these principle as well as innovators to watch in the full article on Medium.
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