Bold Ideas for Rethinking Education and Workforce: A Transition Policy Memo to the Biden Administration

Published nov. 09, 2020

The beginning of a new presidential administration is a time of opportunity. Voters have indicated their political preferences and policy priorities. The president-elect and vice president-elect begin working with their teams to quickly devise a governing approach that is aligned to their values and responsive to the voters and the moment.

And what a moment for the incoming Biden Administration. The nation faces a pandemic, an economic recession, and a reckoning with systemic racial injustice—all while Americans are more polarized than ever before. Perhaps it is only fitting that the administration is already making history: Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first Black woman, and the first South Asian American woman to be elected vice president.

It is against this backdrop that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will lead the nation. Top of mind will be addressing the health crisis, but staunching the economic bleeding and building a foundation for a more equitable future will also be critical and cannot wait. Education and workforce policies will be key levers for achieving these goals, and JFF will continue to be a strategic partner and advocate for meaningful change in these areas.

As the Biden Administration embarks on its transition, we are excited to bring to bear the breadth and depth of JFF’s expertise to help drive equitable economic recovery at this critical time.

JFF’s Expertise and Experience

Between the two of us, we have worked as career civil servants across the five presidential administrations from President George H.W. Bush through President Trump. We have worked alongside political appointees from both parties as they developed and refined policy ideas with the help of nonpartisan career staffers. We have seen administrations achieve big goals, and we have seen executive branch initiatives that have had limited impact.

Beyond the two of us, JFF has a cadre of former executive and legislative branch leaders who have worked across the aisle as political appointees at federal agencies, White House staffers, and employees of House and Senate authorizing committees and personal offices.

As the Biden Administration embarks on its transition, we are excited to bring to bear the breadth and depth of JFF’s expertise to help drive equitable economic recovery at this critical time. Every four years, we compile a detailed set of recommendations for the new administration in the form of a transition memo. Today, we are pleased to release this memo and get to work.

As we have in the past, we will work closely during the transition period with agency review teams and transition staffers who have been working to formulate policy guidance for the incoming administration. Reforming our workforce and education systems will be critical to this effort.

JFF’s Transition Memo

The transition memo was developed by our nonpartisan policy team, in partnership with education and workforce experts across our organization. It recommends a series of actions centered around three policy pillars:

  1. Help all Americans rebound and advance by providing immediate aid to equip individuals with the knowledge, tools, and experiences they need to succeed.
  2. Revitalize regional economies in an inclusive manner to produce sustainable economic growth for all.
  3. Redesign education and workforce development systems to address the needs of a rapidly changing economy by scaling what works and dismantling inequities to better serve the needs of all workers, learners, and businesses.

We lay out areas where the administration can act alone, and where it must work with Congress to achieve meaningful progress. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris transition teams to enact these policies and build a more equitable future for our nation.