Every worker deserves a job with healthy and safe working conditions. The pandemic, however, has demonstrated that this is not a reality for far too many people.

Many people are forced to make difficult choices between taking jobs to provide for their families and protecting their health and the health of their loved ones. As businesses reopen, more people are reentering jobs that pose risks. And these risks are not distributed equally.

Workforce development professionals are uniquely positioned to work with employers and workers to improve workplace health and safety during and after the pandemic. In a new brief, “An Equity Imperative: How the Workforce System Can Advance Workplace Health and Safety During and After Pandemic,” Amanda Newman of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program highlights key ideas for those who work in the workforce development system and for funders who seek to support the field. 

Ideas for workforce development professionals: 

  1. Provide workplace safety information and coaching to clients.
  2. Gather information about employer safety practices to address concerns as they arise.
  3. Center workers in the job referral process, using information to determine whether to refer a job seeker to a particular business. 
  4. Prioritize employers for your services based on their job quality.
  5. Partner with local labor and advocacy organizations to drive systems changes in employer practices and public policy. 

Ideas for funders: 

  1. Provide funding to increase organizational and staff capacity. This type of funding has allowed Central Iowa Works to develop close relationships with employers to set the foundation for discussions about worker health and safety and other practices. 
  2. Bring together local organizations to advocate for policy changes informed by the experiences of workers and the communities most impacted by the virus. 
  3. Develop performance measures that promote job quality and equity. 

Aspen Institute Article

View the full article with examples of efforts in local communities by clicking the button below: 

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TAGS: Thriving Workforce

Soneeta Mangra-Dutcher

About The Author: Soneeta Mangra-Dutcher

Soneeta Mangra-Dutcher is Operations Director for Central Iowa Works.