A White House advisory panel whose members include Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for ‘unprecedented’ investment in online training and education programs to help Americans cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis …

Reuters reports that the proposed measures include a streamlined path to achieving qualifications in new fields, and financial aid for education leading to new qualifications.

The White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which is co-chaired by White House adviser Ivanka Trump and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and includes Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson and IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty, plans to call for “an unprecedented investment in digital infrastructure.”

The board’s efforts are aimed at helping connect displaced workers with pathways to upgrade their skills and learn new skills so they can move into “good jobs in rebounding fields as the health crisis abates and the economy begins to recover,” according to a White House official briefed on the plan.

“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,” the official said in recapping the board’s message.

The board wants governments “to streamline occupational licensing, education requirements, reduce the cost of licensing, and increase reciprocity” and urges the federal government to “allow student financial aid for high-quality, short-term, market-aligned credential programs.”

While many jobs are likely to be restored once the crisis abates and society returns to some level of normality, there are industries which may never fully recover.

Aviation is one of these: the massive financial hit means that some airlines are likely to go bankrupt, while others will merge. The economics of flying – which typically require airlines to fill around 70% of seats in order to break even – are completely incompatible with social distancing. Business class tickets are especially important, often the only thing to make a flight profitable, and the switch to videoconferencing forced by the coronavirus may never be fully reversed.

The hospitality and entertainment sectors are also likely to be very slow to recover. Restaurants and theatres typically operate on extremely slim profit margins which would again be impossible to achieve with social distancing measures in place for any extended time.

The White House advisory panel meetings are currently held as a videoconference.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg

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