White House panel to call for "unprecedented" digital investment

Advisory panel featuring Tim Cook and Ginni Rometty wants to boost the economy with digital skills

An advisory panel to the White House is set to call for "unprecedented investment" in digital infrastructure to support future jobs and aid the economic recovery. 

The White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board plans to help displaced workers upgrade their skillsets and move them into "good jobs in rebounding fields", according to Reuters

The board is co-chaired by Ivanka Trump and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and its members include Apple CEO Tim Cook and former IBM boss Ginni Rometty

Some of the requirements the board want in place are streamlined occupational licensing, education reforms, a reduction in the cost of licensing and increased cooperation with other countries. There is also calls for the government to "allow student financial aid for high-quality, short-term, market-aligned credential programs", according to Reuters

"Our nation cannot achieve a satisfactory post-pandemic recovery unless the technological infrastructure is in place to connect and empower all Americans to participate in the workforce," an official briefed on the plans said.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world's workforce has been divided between the furloughed, the remote and those that have unfortunately lost their jobs. Many of them are in industries that were often predicted to be displaced by advancing technologies, such as AI and automation. 

In April, 20.5 million US citizens lost their jobs, reportedly the biggest drop since the Great Depression. This 14.7% unemployment rate shatters the post-World War Two record of 10.8%, set in November 1982. 

In the UK, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit surged to 2.1 million in April, according to the Office for National Statistics. That's a rise of 856,500 people in one month, with ONS figures showing a rise of 50,000 in the three months leading up to March.

These figures only cover the first week of the April lockdown, however, and is likely to worsen in the coming months, according to the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. 

"We can reasonably expect unemployment to rise very quickly to something over 10% - something we haven't seen since the early 1990s," economist Jagjit Chadha told the BBC.

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