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Axios' Erica Pandey (left) and Per Scholas president and CEO Plinio Ayala. Photo: Axios

The U.S. government must invest in workforce development, including providing American workers with IT skills that today's tech-forward economy demands, Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala said on Thursday at an Axios virtual event on the future of broadband connectivity.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in the American workforce, such as the reliance on restaurant or hospitality work. But Ayala argues skills from those roles are transferable to the IT sector "if you're given the opportunity."

  • Artificial intelligence "was going to cause a disruption in our workforce regardless, it was going to eliminate or recreate jobs in hospitality or retail or transportation. The pandemic just accelerated that," Ayala said.

What they're saying: Ayala says every $1 invested in Per Scholas, which offers no-cost tech training to workers hoping to switch to IT careers, has shown an $8 return to the economy.

  • "Many of our private investors have recognized the impact that we're having... But they can't do it alone.
  • "Government needs to be involved. This country needs to implement concrete policy changes that allow more resources to flow to effective models like ours so that we can help more people move into successful careers."

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Powering economic opportunity

This channel features content produced by the Axios Brand Studio and Google.

Welcome to this recap of conversations from Google’s Powering Economic Opportunity: Digital Skills for the Future Workforce Expert Voices Live event.

Updated Dec 23, 2020 - Axios Events

1. First things first: The importance of lifelong learning

Lisa Gevelber, Founder and VP of Grow with Google, and the president and CEO of Jobs of the Future, Maria Flynn, at Google's virtual Powering Economic Opportunity: New Pathways to Job Recovery event.

Want a job in the future? If so, experts at Google’s recent Powering Economic Opportunity: New Pathways to Job Recovery event suggested that job seekers must do one thing: be a lifelong student.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.