Dr. Quintin Bullock, President of CCAC, writes about preparing the Greater Pittsburgh region’s workforce for the challenging times ahead and facilitating the economy’s rebound for New Pittsburgh Courier. The article can be read in full here. A version of it was also published in Pittsburgh Business Times.
History will surely recall the first year of this decade as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year when large portions of our economy stopped, when institutions that defined our everyday lives – from schools to grocery stores, from offices to playgrounds – changed. Economists will undoubtedly look back and see the business cycle at work, characterized in the broadest sense as recession followed by recovery, unemployment followed by opportunity.
But there are communities within our society that don’t see life in terms of business cycles. They are stuck at the bottom and the only cycle they see is multi-generational poverty, inadequate educational opportunities, and high levels of long-term unemployment.
As our country recovers from the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19, the government and private sector are undoubtedly going to expend enormous amounts of energy and money to train members of the workforce whose jobs no longer exist and whose industries have been forever altered. We need programs to prepare those individuals for new jobs in new industries that are going to be in demand in the future.
But what about the underserved and economically disadvantaged communities that have experienced long-term poverty and unemployment? Over the next decade, as we reach new peaks of economic prosperity in this country, will we demonstrate the same level of commitment to building a path to prosperity for those who have been left behind for decades?