What are the actions that can be taken . . . that keep the equity frame in the center?

JFF CEO Maria Flynn in “Higher Education and Work Amid Crisis”

Published jun. 17, 2020

In a June 17 article examining statistics illustrating the way the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and worsened equity gaps in higher education and the labor market, Inside Higher Ed turned to JFF for insight and analysis.

To put the current situation in perspective, the article cited a conversation that JFF board member and Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard Reeves had with Jim Shelton, chief investment and impact officer at Blue Meridian Partners, during the opening plenary session of JFF's recent Horizons virtual experience.

Reeves said the economic and health care troubles triggered by the pandemic represented a “collision of crises” that has exposed multiple inequities and inequalities in American society. And Shelton argued that employers have to start thinking differently about their talent development strategies when the economy begins to recover, adding that companies must recognize “their role in creating a new future and an economy that can work for everyone.”

Among other things, the article cited recent Strada Education Network survey results revealing that, compared with their white counterparts, Black and Latinx Americans are more likely to have been laid off and more likely to have canceled or changed their education plans during the pandemic.

Reflecting on those findings, JFF President and CEO Maria Flynn told Inside Higher Ed that Strada’s research provides actionable data that can help guide employers and education providers toward new ways of helping workers acquire in-demand skills.

“What are the actions that can be taken coming out of this that keep the equity frame in the center?” she asked. “What are those no-regret solutions, regardless of how the recovery comes?”