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On Tuesday December 8 Axios' Ina Fried and Sara Fischer hosted the third in a series of virtual roundtables, featuring policymakers and leaders across multiple industries to discuss education, skills-based training, and its impact on workforce development and economic recovery.

JFF president and CEO Maria Flynn kicked off the conversation discussing how companies like Google are partnering with community colleges across the country to help prepare low income adults for the digital economy.

  • "We all know this has upended our economy and that it's even more important to focus on this type of work...We believe that there's really no going back to normal or the status quo. We believe we should really seize this moment in time to fix the systems that were broken long before the pandemic hit."

Maureen Conway, Vice President at the Aspen Institute discussed one of the critical barriers to adult education and skills training.

  • "One of the key barriers [to training] that we find is...the time to participate. [Students] often can't afford to not work. I think we really need to think about—particularly if we're thinking about lifelong learning systems and engaging adults—what does it really mean to support people at all stages of their lives, to be able to really participate in earnings and to create equitable access to that?"

Christine Cruzvergara, Vice President of Higher Education and Student Success at Handshake discussed how the pandemic has changed the job market for recent graduates and how virtual accessibility is making a positive impact.

  • "We're seeing a lot of virtual and digital recruiting come into play and actually allow for more underrepresented students to get messages from employers, to be able to connect with employer ambassadors, to be able to find internships and jobs in ways that they weren't before, because we are seeing employers actually use technology to diversify their candidate pool...That's been a positive shift that we've started to see."

Congressman Joseph Morelle (D-NY) on shifting how people think about two key conceptual frameworks around education and job training:

  • "The first [framework] is that there's people who are college ready and then people who are not. The second framework is that when you're done with college, you're done with learning...Both frameworks I think are faulty, particularly in the 21st century, we need to start getting everyone thinking about lifelong learning...People are desperate for information, whether it's for their career or advancement, or it's just being a better citizen."

Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) closed the conversation by stressing the importance of bipartisan efforts to solve workforce challenges and job preparation for the future.

  • "There's going to be a reconfiguring of the workforce. We've talked about automation, which has already been happening, but the pandemic is going to bring that out faster than we ever expected...We have to think about how we can ensure that the workers up today are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow."

Read the recap of our first roundtable event here and our second roundtable event here.

Thank you Google for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Global data-driven change

On Thursday, January 27, Axios' Ina Fried hosted a conversation on the social impact of Big Data, featuring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. chief technology officer and founder and CEO of shift7, Megan Smith.

Megan Smith. unpacked how data can help solve some of the biggest equity issues across our economy and society today, and the importance of having everyone at the table.

  • On solving social issues that are exacerbated by new technologies: "It's just not for the tech community to decide [how to fix this] on behalf of all of us, especially because they face extraordinary bias in their hiring practices and their teams' dismissiveness of people who are not of a certain group."
  • On how the government should approach solving problems that cross technological and policy divides: "The key there is less about what and more about who. Who is in the government teams, who is actually in the tech teams? Are they more balanced? How do we get more of society at the table together so that we're more fluent as we work on this?"

Rep. Yvette Clarke highlighted the risks and rewards of using Big Data, as well as the shared responsibility of the public and private sectors to keep the public informed.

  • On how algorithms can amplify existing biases: "[Big Data] can be great in making advances in our civil society. The other side is it can become a mirror of some of the inequities that exist in the real world...and that reflection can be programmed into algorithms."
  • On a balanced approach to technology regulation: "I really want to make sure that the public is educated and informed...[That] we also hold the companies accountable for the ways in which they perpetuate harm in certain respects and reward where they're doing good."

Axios' Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Intel Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer Sandra Rivera to discuss collaboration and creating change from within the tech industry.

  • "We have convened other industry leaders to really drive meaningful, lasting change forward. This is such a big challenge and opportunity. It doesn't really work that any one company can do [it] alone: We take our role in terms of leading that work by participating, collaborating with other tech giants."

Thank you Intel for sponsoring this event.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.