Event Recap

Using Data and Evidence to Reopen Businesses and Recover Jobs After COVID-19

Federal/State/ Workforce Fellows/Workforce Training/ 2020/

On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, Results for America partnered with the bipartsian Congressional What Works Caucus, to host a virtual congressional briefing entitled: “Using Data and Evidence to Reopen Business and Recover Job After COVID-19.” The Co-chairs of the caucus, U.S. Representative Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN) gave opening remarks about the importance of leveraging data and evidence as a part of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Rep. Walorski stated, “in order to recover and rebuild the economy, we have to work together and figure out what works best for our communities. Reliable data and a focus on evidence can play a key role in the weeks and months to come.” And Rep. McAdams said, “we can and we must take advantage of the data and the evaluation from our country and around the world to identify strategies that work” in response efforts. Both co-chairs emphasized the importance of re-opening the economy safely, supported by collaboration between the public and private sectors, and with communities in mind.

Following the opening remarks a panel of state and private sector workforce leaders shared their experiences leveraging data and evidence-based methods in their COVID-19 responses. Panelists included:

  • Pete Bernardy, Chief Data and Evaluation Officer, State of Minnesota
  • Seema Jain, Vice President of Operations, SkillSource Group, Northern Virginia Workforce Development Board
  • Allison Jones, Deputy Secretary of Policy and Planning, Office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
  • Gregg Keesling, President, RecycleForce
  • Celeste Richie, Vice President for Workforce Development, Results for America (moderator)

The panelists described challenges around leveraging data effectively and efficiently, as noted by Bernardy: “The urgency of this crisis has really forced us to say: ‘how can we get that data’?” In Pennsylvania and Virginia, both workforce systems have sought to prioritize investments in evidence-based workforce programs. Jones elaborated that “this pandemic has forced us really to take a fresh look at what our workforce investments are and what our workforce strategies are to make sure they’re targeted not only to reach the customers that have been so negatively impacted by COVID.” This effort is supported by evidence-definitions that Pennsylvania recently adopted.

In Virginia, to further extend their programs and services, the workforce system has provided virtual services, which it hopes to continue following the pandemic. Jain stated that this shift “makes [the state] more efficient, I think it gets us more with the times of how things are being done.” This innovation is helping the state reach residents it needed to better serve even prior to the pandemic.