To create fresh and powerful new approaches to the complex challenges that America’s workers face, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration should invest $100 million per year for 5 years to launch an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Labor (ARPA-L). ARPA-L’s mission will be to conduct high-impact R&D programs that create breakthroughs to meet America’s workforce challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply exacerbated longstanding problems for America’s workers. Mismatches between workers’ skills and employers’ needs alongside persistent racial and gender inequities have long undercut opportunity. Moreover, work has continued to change due to technology and automation, globalization, and shifting relationships between workers and employers. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many millions of Americans were not earning enough to support themselves and their families. These Americans are missing out on gainful work, while our economy and our society are missing out on their full contribution.
With current advances in information technology, data science, applied social sciences, and learning science, this moment calls for an ambitious initiative to tackle the longstanding challenges for America’s workers. The Federal Government should launch an ARPA-L to research, develop, and test breakthrough approaches that boost workers’ skills and harness data to open new opportunities. By drawing from the operating model of prior ARPA organizations and adapting it to these challenges, ARPA-L’s programs can make it possible to ameliorate underemployment and unemployment and transform the future of work.
To initiate ARPA-L, Congress should provide a budget of $100 million per year over a five-year period. The Biden-Harris Administration and the Secretary of Labor should appoint a highly qualified director and provide that individual with the support needed to succeed. By creating this independent agency at the Department of Labor (DOL), Congress, the White House, and DOL can create opportunity for the U.S. workforce for decades to come.
Despite the uphill battle the country is facing, Dr. Schlaerth feels optimistic about the future possibilities of industrial decarbonization.
“The awesome thing is that folks are really interested in a conversion to clean energy and what they can do to support the Tribe. It’s really fun to go out there and see that people want to move in that direction.”
Despite significant advances in scientific tools and methods, the traditional, labor-intensive model of scientific research in materials discovery has seen little innovation.
Community navigator programs can provide much-needed capacity combined with deep place-based knowledge to create local champions with expertise in accessing federal funding.