The National Governors Association announced that North Carolina and five other states were selected for the second phase of NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN), in which states will deploy cross-agency teams to identify and implement strategies to advance digital skill development and more equitable economic participation.
In response to the impacts of accelerated trends in automation and digital transformation on work, workers and workplaces, NGA WIN will award Hawaii, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island up to $100,000 each and provide technical assistance to help state teams ensure all individuals have the digital skills needed to participate in work, education or training. The NGA Center will collaborate with NGA WIN advisors to deliver technical assistance and best practice resources to participating states through June 2022.
“The pandemic is shining a bright light on the critical need for digital literacy,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “By joining the Workforce Innovation Network, we can help North Carolina employees gain the skills employers need them to have so people in the workforce are better paid and more effective for their companies."
The NGA Center will provide subgrants and technical assistance to the states with support from NGA WIN founding sponsor, the Cognizant Foundation, and additional sponsors Intel, Microsoft, Western Governors University and Walmart, the latest addition to the growing coalition of NGA WIN partners and supporters.
“We are excited to participate in the NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network as we work to increase digital literacy across the state,” said North Carolina Department of Information Technology Secretary James Weaver. “This grant builds upon the work our new Office of Digital Equity and Literacy is doing to foster community partnerships so all North Carolinians can have the tools they need to participate in the digital economy.”
Each state team – consisting of representatives from Governors’ offices, workforce development agencies and state workforce boards, and other state agencies – will work collaboratively toward a state vision for closing digital equity and workforce achievement gaps by advancing digital skill development. States will leverage tools such as the Digital Equity Scorecard, developed by NGA WIN advisors at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Skills Coalition and Microsoft, to gather new data on skill gaps and develop plans to address gaps in priority industries, geographies and demographics.
“Too many people lack the digital skills needed to access critical workforce training and educational opportunities in our state,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Today’s award of the Workforce Innovation Network grant addresses one of the key needs identified in our First in Talent strategic plan for economic development in North Carolina, and these funds will directly support the important work we must do to prepare our workforce for the jobs of the 21st Century.”
“Governors are leading with creative solutions to help workers and job seekers access the tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing economy, and NGA is honored to support them,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center. “We look forward to working with these six states to help them develop and implement strategies to improve access to the digital skills that are increasingly essential to both workers and businesses.”
An initiative of the NGA Center’s Workforce Development and Economic Policy Program, NGA WIN was founded in January in partnership with the Cognizant Foundation as a nonpartisan action collaborative for state leaders committed to building an inclusive and resilient workforce. In March, NGA WIN awarded 10 states each up to $100,000 and provided their multi-agency state teams with customized technical assistance to improve employment outcomes in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19 by connecting job seekers to work, education or training opportunities and essential support services. Case studies and best practices from this first round of NGA WIN state grants will be published later this year.