JANUARY 20, 2022

America Achieves Contact:

Jacques Steinberg


The nonprofit organization America Achieves announced today the release of a policy playbook from its State Recovery Now initiative. The playbook provides state and local governments with innovative, step-by-step strategies for offering people effective pathways to good careers and for helping employers fill in-demand jobs – all grounded in a strong evidence base.

Titled Employing Residents in High-Demand Careers: An Evidence-Based Good Jobs-Driven Approach, the playbook is the first in what will be a suite of action-oriented resources. The detailed guide is intended to support states, counties, and cities as they consider how best to allocate and implement hundreds of billions in state and local economic aid that is now available for spending from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) enacted last year. 

America Achieves is a national nonprofit organization that incubates, studies, and scales programs and policy innovations to advance equitable access to training, education and economic opportunity. State Recovery Now is an initiative of America Achieves that is building a hub of resources for state and local leaders to access the blueprints, technical assistance, and other support they need to create better outcomes for people across the nation by promoting a sustainable and equitable economic recovery. America Achieves launched the bipartisan State Recovery Now initiative in 2020.  

Specifically, this initial guide details options for how state and local governments can build a system to match  workers to – and then help them maintain – good jobs in well-paying, high-demand fields by:

  • Establishing an employer demand-driven workforce scholarship program that includes funding for:
    • Program tuition in evidence-based job training connected to real, good jobs;
    • Career coaching programs; and 
    • Essential wraparound supports, such as guidance counseling, transportation, and child care costs. 
  • Setting up an evaluation system to determine the impact of programs on good job attainment and wage gains, as well as to assess the quality of job training, counseling, and career coaching programs.  This evaluation system would also be used to inform improvement and better empower participants to make educated enrollment decisions. 

While a high school degree once served as a ticket to a middle class lifestyle, most good jobs now require education beyond high school. With only one third of the adult U.S. population going on to obtain a college degree, the importance of alternative post-secondary credentials, such as vocational or technical education, has never been greater. These alternative credentials are often overlooked and undervalued, but can be critical pathways to well-paying jobs in our modern economy. Too often communities lack a comprehensive strategy to help workers gain the skills and support needed for a well-paying, family-supporting career. This playbook can help build and execute a strategy to create a good jobs economy. 

Jon Schnur, the chief executive officer of America Achieves, said: “As states and communities work to rebuild after the devastation of the pandemic, it is crucial to help fill in-demand jobs and and offer people pathways to attain good jobs and economic mobility – including by leveraging existing skills, and building new ones. This guide offers practical, evidence-based strategies that states and communities can use right now to address these challenges and build a good jobs economy for everyone.”

Bill Ferguson, the founding project lead for America Achieves’ State Recovery Now initiative added: “State and local leaders are facing an unprecedented moment in time in recovery as they attempt to lead efforts to emerge on the other side of a once-in-100-year pandemic. Building a stronger, more resilient, and more competitive workforce in their jurisdictions is central to every state and local leaders’ recovery agenda. The Good Jobs-Driven Approach playbook provides an outline for leaders to incorporate as they deploy historic federal resources to retool workforce pathways in their states and local jurisdictions.”   

Outside of America Achieves, Ferguson also serves as a state senator for Maryland’s 46th Legislative District and as the President of the Senate of Maryland. 

Last year, Gallup found that a strong, bipartisan majority (93%) of the public supports a large-scale, ambitious plan to pay people to work and provide them with the skills needed for jobs of the future. This comes at a time when employers competing in the modern global economy face an unmet need for diverse pipelines of skilled workers, especially in high-demand sectors. This need is only expected to grow with the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Meanwhile, workers want good jobs that offer a livable wage, but face too many barriers to attaining the necessary skills and credentials. State Recovery Now’s new evidence-based, good jobs-driven playbook can help workers, employers, and governments alike align to create a fair and equitable economic recovery that works for everyone. 

America Achieves is grateful to its partner Delivery Associates, led by CEO Nick Rodriguez, for their project support.

The full playbook can be found here. A two-page summary of the playbook can be found here. For questions or to request a briefing, contact:

Other Quotes on Employing Residents in High-Demand Careers: 

An Evidence-Based, Good Jobs-Driven Approach

“Workforce development is critical to our nation’s economic recovery, particularly as millions of job vacancies continue to go unfilled. As a former governor, I appreciate the policy playbook outlining some of the best practices across the country for job training programs, including providing supportive services like transportation and child care. I like to quote a friend who says, ‘Find out what works, and do more of that.’ This policy playbook could very well serve as a guide to other states and communities to help prepare more Americans for better-paying jobs. By weaving together what works and removing the barriers that too many individuals face, we can build a more nurturing environment for job creation.”

Senator Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

“The new playbook from America Achieves’ State Recovery Now initiative provides a clear and actionable roadmap for policymakers, communities, employers and workforce organizations to work together to advance innovations and efforts to achieve not only a more inclusive economy but a more equitable society.”

– Maurice A. Jones, Chief Executive Officer, OneTen

“With clear, detailed action steps, America Achieves’ playbook offers comprehensive ways that states, communities and nonprofit organizations can create new pathways for employers and job-seekers alike — and to do so right now. With our commitment to providing Hoosiers with free training in high-growth, in-demand fields and to incentivizing employers to make that training easily available, we are pleased that Next Level Jobs Indiana is featured in this new playbook from America Achieves’ State Recovery Now project.”

– Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner for Higher Education, Indiana Commission for Higher Education 

“The skills training I received through Back to Work Rhode Island absolutely changed my life. I can only imagine what it would do for other people if government leaders really put their foot forward to build more programs like these — and the new playbook from America Achieves and State Recovery Now would make that possible. If I was trying to encourage a government leader to invest in more programs like these, I would tell them: We have two hands. One to help ourselves and one to help others.” 

Craig Garner, participant in Back to Work Rhode Island

“This latest playbook from State Recovery Now can be instrumental in advancing 21st century workforce development and ensuring an equitable recovery across America, but only if state and local governments have the courage to commit to a new, intentional approach. We must urgently shift investment into proven programs that work – ones that are evidence-based and high-quality programs, building careers in high-paying, high-growth fields, such as technology. These programs are scalable, changing lives and our national economy along the way. It’s one of the best ways we can ensure workers gain the skills needed for well-paying, family-sustaining careers.”

– Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas

“The State Recovery Now Playbook provides a practical and evidence-based roadmap for solving one of the greatest challenges facing our nation- the education and skilling of our people.  While federal student financial aid policy and workforce training policy has accomplished much in the last few decades, the world around us is changing rapidly and too many Americans have been left behind. This work is the right direction just when our nation needed it the most.”

– Monty Sullivan, System President, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC): A Coalition of Community Colleges

“The global pandemic has caused a massive loss of jobs that may never come back. Marginalized communities such as Black, LatinX, and women are especially being affected by these economic hardships. As communities work to recover, an emphasis must be made on launching people into jobs of the future quickly. The work we do at Generation USA and the information in this playbook can help those communities find a sustainable path forward.” 

– Richard Clemmons, Chief Operating Officer, Generation USA

“Workforce systems too frequently fall short in providing the tools needed by jobseekers to secure good-paying, rewarding employment: from failing to address common financial shortfalls faced by adults with low incomes that serve as barriers to succeeding in many training programs, to little accountability on the labor market outcomes of publicly funded training programs. The Markle Foundation works to advance strategies that overcome these and other critical issues, with the aim of realizing an equitable workforce, higher education, and training system that expands economic security and mobility for all. This playbook provides a valuable roadmap for policymakers to capitalize on the moment to establish dynamic, results-oriented systems that empower workers.”

– Maya Goodwin, Senior Manager for Policy, Markle Foundation

“By pairing employer-driven job training with wraparound support services, the Back to Work Rhode Island initiative has helped eliminate barriers to employment for those seeking new career opportunities in the wake of COVID-19. We are pleased to share our insights with other states and hope that this work can serve as a model for creating a more equitable recovery.”

– Matthew Weldon, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

Forward Delaware is a great example of the Delaware Department of Labor’s leadership and collaborative efforts with various workforce agencies and partners in ramping up successful industry recognized training programs for Delawareans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a program that embodies what healthy public-private partnerships can accomplish to help local communities and job seekers.”

– Richard Fernandes, Director of Employment and Training, Delaware Department of Labor

“It’s incumbent on policymakers, training providers, and employers to build a workforce system that’s both more effective and more equitable than the one we had before the pandemic. That starts by measuring the outcomes that actually matter to job-seekers. We urge all providers and members of the workforce community to adopt the playbook’s recommendations to join us in setting new standards of transparency and efficacy.”

– Rebecca Taber and Connor Diemand-Yauman, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Merit America

“The American Recovery Plan (ARP) provides much-needed investment in economic growth and resilience, especially in broadband capacity that is vital to ensuring equitable access to our critical digital infrastructure. As we carry out this mission, the one thing we can’t afford is delay. These playbooks will provide a clear roadmap for states and municipalities to follow.”

– Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO, The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA)

“By more effectively distributing state-level funding according to evidence-based best practices, state leaders would have more leverage to scale and adapt proven, impactful approaches and programs like Year Up. The result would be very positive in terms of helping local employers meet their workforce needs and in connecting more young adults in need of an opportunity with these companies. Last year, an independent evaluation of Year Up showed that every $1.00 invested in our program results in a gain of $1.66 to society — it’s an investment that benefits young people, their communities, corporations and the broader economy.”

– Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO, Year Up

“We know more than ever before about what strategies work to help Americans prepare for, secure and retain good jobs. A key part of that plan includes recognizing the realities of people’s lives and offering supportive services to break down the barriers that prevent them from succeeding – including making those benefits easy to access. With this playbook in hand, more states and communities help empower employers and workers alike to build a strong good jobs economy.

– Joanna Mikulski, Chief Federal Policy and Data Officer, America Achieves