#AskAboutSkills at the 2020 Debates!

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Jimmy Donofrio
Jimmy Donofrio signed this petition

We’re calling on debate moderators to ask 2020 candidates about skills training and their plans for the 21st century economy. We hear a lot about their commitments to college affordability; will they make skills and technical training an equal priority? And if so, how?

Our economy is at a crossroads, and automation is at the wheel. At least 60% of today’s jobs will be impacted by rapidly advancing technologies such as digitalization and AI, meaning 90 million American workers will have to acquire new skills just to stay in their industries.

85% of voters think we should provide free skills and technical training to anyone who wants it. It's no wonder - skills training is central to the biggest issues of our time:

  • Automation – as technology evolves, so too must the training and skills of those who build and maintain it
  • Climate – green jobs today and of the future require a skilled workforce
  • Infrastructure – fixing America’s roads, bridges, and utility infrastructure will depend on skilled workers from multiple industries
  • Veterans – skills training programs can connect veterans with good-paying jobs after their service ends
  • Aging – access to skills training should not be a barrier to career growth or economic security, at any age
  • Education and Student Debt – skills training leads to good-paying jobs that help workers pay off debts – and provides alternatives to expensive 2 and 4-year degrees
  • Health Care – the industry is growing and looking for an increasingly skilled workforce
  • Immigration – immigrants represent 1 in 6 American workers and they play a crucial role in our economy

Skills training is wildly popular — 93% of likely voters agree that we should increase investment in skills and technical training. But very little time this campaign season has been dedicated to hearing candidates’ plans for skills training in our changing economy.

And while policymakers are eager to invest in people who want to go to college, there’s less help for people who want to learn a skill or trade. We spend $139 billion every year on federal student aid, but only 14% of that goes to fund skills and technical training programs. 86% of voters say we should invest in skills at the same level we invest in college.

If the U.S. wants to continue to be competitive in the 21st century economy, our focus and investment in skills and technical training will need to increase to meet growing, rapidly changing demand.

Debate moderators: Ask the 2020 candidates about skills!