COVID-19 has taken an unprecedented toll on the labor force. More than 40 million American workers have filed for unemployment benefits, and many others have seen their hours or salary cut while businesses struggle to survive. This upheaval is causing many individuals and families a tremendous amount of grief, anxiety, and uncertainty. It’s also making already profound issues of racial and socioeconomic inequality worse.
As the economic impact of the pandemic continues to unfold, it’s become clear that some communities are being affected more than others. According to Strada Education Network, people of color are more worried (68% of Black Americans and 72% of Latinos) than whites that they could lose their jobs, and they have already experienced lost income or layoffs at a greater rate. Gallup recently reported that a shocking 95% of workers in low-income households have either seen a loss of income or lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus.
The very hard truth about the economy is that many of these jobs, especially in sectors already at risk of automation, will not be coming back. One analysis published by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago estimates that four out of ten recent layoffs will become permanent. How can we respond to this growing crisis that threatens so many already vulnerable workers?
We can start by reskilling and upskilling more people of color and women for the jobs that will be around after the virus is gone. At 2U, we are helping our university partners make this a reality. With the launch of a $3 Million Scholarship Fund today, the communities that have been hit worst by recent job losses and economic hardship will be eligible to receive $2,500 scholarships to over 100 online boot camps offered by over 30 of our university partners in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, fintech, digital marketing, and UX/UI. And for the remaining tuition, a 24-month no-interest payment plan will ease the financial burden on many learners so that they can focus on the skills they need to build a sustainable career.
By providing over a thousand individuals with a more affordable on-ramp to a career in the technology sector, our new scholarship and interest-free payment plan are creating access when it’s needed most. And the recently introduced, bi-partisan Skills Renewal Act, which creates a flexible $4,000 credit covering a wide range of training programs, including boot camps, would expand access even more, helping address one of society's most critical workforce needs.
Our university partners’ boot camps provide talented, driven, and diverse learners with the kind of quality tech training that builds relevant skills, responds to market demand, and leads to proven career pathways. These boot camps have reached more than 25,000 learners. Of students who identify their background, 32% are women, 46% are people of color, and 30% do not have a bachelor’s degree. And today, thousands of companies, including 50% of Fortune 100 companies, employ graduates from our partners’ programs.
But these numbers in and of themselves do not equate to mission accomplished, especially not at a time when we’re facing a global pandemic and unprecedented economic and social unrest. At 2U, we believe that education must not only be high-quality and relevant to workforce demands but also affordable and accessible. To be clear, this is only the beginning of a long road ahead. To overcome present and future challenges and to fully realize the transformative promise of education, more investments will need to be made across the board. We are proud to have more than 30 of our great university partners on board for this early initiative, and we look forward to generating and contributing to other opportunities for access, affordability, and equity in the future.
Learn more about us.
At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.