WDBCCC’s focus on an equitable economic recovery for Contra Costa County

As a workforce development board funded primarily through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we have long focused on making sure populations with barriers to employment have the training and support they need to get a good-paying job. challenges within the workforce system. Over the past year, though, our work has become even more focused as increased awareness of racial equity and justice issues throughout the country raised the importance of addressing related challenges within the workforce system.

The report Race and the Work of the Future: Advancing Workforce Equity in the United States explains what we are facing: “Our nation cannot afford another inequitable ‘recovery’ like the one that followed the Great Recession; instead, we must come together to build a solidarity economy that acknowledges, values, and deepens social ties and mutual care as the foundation of shared prosperity.”

According to the report, White workers are about 50 percent more likely than workers of color to hold good jobs, and much less likely to be displaced from their jobs by automation. Median wages are higher for White workers with a high school diploma and no college ($19/hour) than for Black workers with an associate degree ($18/hour). Racial inequities in income already cost the U.S. economy about $2.3 trillion per year, and as the workforce approaches a people-of-color majority that toll will only grow in the absence of bold, equity-focused solutions.

The report describes the work of the future as “the work of equity: just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.”

At WDBCCC, we’re working toward that. Racial justice and equity are key priorities for our Board, as it works to ensure an equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for our region’s employers and jobseekers. To better understand the challenges around racial justice and equity, and to develop solutions, WDBCCC has been involved in local, regional, and state efforts.

Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force

At the county level, we joined the Contra Costa Economic Partnership to help lead the Economic Equitable Recovery Task Force, which engages local business, community-based organizations and public agencies to develop data-driven strategies to forge an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force was created to align efforts; track and guide actions to support job creation in the public and private sector; identify and promote policies to retain local employers; and expand connections to training and employment for those disproportionately impacted by pandemic layoffs.

The task force’s virtual meetings are recorded. Watch a recording of the May 26 meeting, or find videos of previous meetings on the CCEP YouTube channel. 

Bay Area Workforce Community Solutions

At a regional level, we participated in Bay Area Workforce Community Solutions, which brought together leaders from around the Bay Area to develop strategies to close racial and gender income and wealth gaps for the most vulnerable members of the community. The effort was funded through a Workforce Accelerator Fund 7.0 grant from the California Workforce Development Board and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Bay Area Workforce Community Solutions hosted five online events focused on racial inequity in the Bay Area, from redefining equity in the time of health, economic and racial pandemics to community- and worker-centered organizing and advocacy to advance economic equity. You can watch the recorded events on the website. At the state level, we have engaged with the California Workforce Association’s Equity Task Force.

Another round of funding from the Workforce Accelerator Fund –  WAF 8.0 – is allowing us to explore ways to strengthen the integration of homelessness and workforce service delivery using the human-centered design (HCD) approach. The outcome of the project will be the design of more effective strategies.

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