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Expert: 'We need to be preparing people for jobs that will exist' post-pandemic

Kristen E. Broady, Ph.D., Policy Director for The Hamilton Project and Fellow in Economic Studies at The Brookings Institution, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to discuss how workers can prepare for the post-pandemic economy.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Now I want to talk now about the impact of some of those policies, particularly on stimulus on economic growth going forward. We're joined now by Kristin E. Broady, policy director for the Hamilton Project and a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Kristin, thank you so much for joining us. It's not often that I get a name twin here with me on this show, so I very much appreciate it. I want to start first with that stimulus plan. How critical is it to get that extra $2 trillion, roughly-- it's $1.9 trillion-- package to the US economy, especially as we're hearing our own Jess Smith there updating us that there are some nonstarters. So it might be a little bit scaled back, the final version, which happened the last time we went through these stimulus negotiations. So how critical is that $2 trillion package?

KRISTIN E. BROADY: First of all, thank you for having me. And that is going to be absolutely critical. When we look at the millions of workers who are unemployed right now, both short term and long term, we need money for workforce training. We need money for higher education to prepare those workers, some of whom don't have a job to go back to.

When you look at the fact that in December, 23% of workers teleworked, and telework is going to continue. Automation is going to accelerate many of the things that we've seen during the pandemic. So we're going to need training for many of these workers so that they can be prepared for jobs that will exist after the pandemic.

KRISTIN MYERS: So speaking about that, training the workers, you guys have a study out at the Brookings Institution on this very thing. Let's step back a little bit. And when we're looking at this post-pandemic world, what are some of the biggest challenges that are facing, you know, the workforce once it's over? You started to allude to some of them. Let's dive into that a little bit deeper.

KRISTIN E. BROADY: So I think when you think about the group of people that are working from home, and that even once the pandemic is over, will be able to continue to work from home, when you think about the fact that business travel and conference travel is likely to decrease.

And so, when you think about workers in hotels or in restaurants or leisure, as many people stop traveling or decrease their travel, those jobs may not come back, many of them, even once there is a vaccine. We've gotten really good at using Zoom and using these other platforms over the pandemic. So for many of those workers, they're not going to have a job.

While, on the other hand, jobs in computer design and technology are increasing. So we need to be preparing for people for jobs that will exist and providing them with the skills, with the internet broadband and resources so that they will be prepared to do those jobs when it's time.

KRISTIN MYERS: So on that piece, education obviously a critical component in order to train the next generation, essentially, of the workforce. Wondering, because your study actually highlights that we're seeing declining enrollment when it comes to higher education-- we were just showing everyone some of the graphics just a moment ago. How do we address that piece?

KRISTIN E. BROADY: So I think that we need more investment in higher ed. And I think that the college professors and administrators are the ones who really know what their students need. So one of my big pushes is increasing funding for remedial education and other kinds of training so that more people can be ready to enter college. Universities know exactly how to prepare students if we fund them and allow them to do that.

Furthermore, I think that we need partnerships between state and local governments and also partnerships between corporations and universities. And one of my, again, pushes is so that companies can say these are things that we need for students to know and be able to do for jobs that are going to be available so that universities can then prepare them.

Those kinds of partnerships, internships, apprenticeships create pipelines for people to come out of school into employment, and for current workers to maybe go back to school or get a credential while they are working to help them get a promotion on their current job or to get a new job that will exist after the pandemic is over.

KRISTIN MYERS: So I want to pick up on something that you were just saying really quickly with you here, Kristin, I think we romanticize higher education a little bit. It's a time for us to pursue our passions, really figure out what we love. And then, sometimes, we find that you go out into the workforce and your passion, frankly, there's not a huge demand for it. Or you can't get a lot of money for it.

I'm wondering if you think that we really need to start having a conversation about training folks in jobs where there is demand, training folks for jobs where they are going to be able to make a livable wage, instead of so much that, you know, education in your passion piece. We do see other countries starting to do this more and more. Do you think that the United States really needs to move down that path?

KRISTIN E. BROADY: So I don't want us to be telling people what they should and should not do. But I do think that companies should express what jobs are going to exist or what jobs they think people need more training in so that people can then go and get training in those areas. They still have a choice, right? Their passion may be in one of those areas. But having that communication between corporations, between government agencies and higher ed would allow people to choose to go into fields where jobs are going to exist and pay a livable wage.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Dr. Kristin E. Broady from the Brookings Institution, thank you so much for joining us today.

KRISTIN E. BROADY: Thank you for having me.