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Can Education Fix Economic Discrimination? We Must Try


Calbright’s mission is to offer job training in upwardly mobile, 21st century careers to all Californians – but it doesn’t stop there.  We are determined to make sure that our offerings are suitable, seen, and available to people in targeted demographic groups. Anyone can participate, but it matters that we do additional outreach and make connections with specific communities.  

If you wonder why we do that, the last federal jobs report for 2020 tells the story.

A total of 140,000 American jobs were lost in December, but those losses weren’t evenly distributed. Women accounted for all the jobs lost.  

That doesn’t mean “every person who lost a job in December was a woman,” but it means that, in total, men gained a net 16,000 jobs in December while women lost a net 156,000.  

In other words, our economy is not equal opportunity – the invisible hand of the market is holding on to men, while letting women go.

It gets even worse when you look at the numbers more closely: white women gained jobs in December.  So who lost their jobs?  Black and Hispanic women.  

“After months of remote learning, the number of white women in the labor force grew by 263,000 in December, but the number of Black women fell by 153,000, or 1.5%, bringing the latter to an eight-month low.”  Meanwhile 876,000 Hispanic women left the workforce.

Job training and education is essential to economic recovery, and everyone should have access.  Everyone. But until the economy is truly an equal opportunity employer, we should make sure that the groups who are the most marginalized also have education and employment services targeted to their needs, as they are the most in need.  

This is especially true when research shows that providing economic access to marginalized groups – especially women – creates greater prosperity for everyone.  Connect good jobs to the people having the most trouble finding them, and the economy grows at a faster rate.  

Universal job training matters. Universal access to education matters. Yet until the systemic injustices of the economy are addressed, universal access must be paired with particular outreach to the marginalized.  We need both.  Calbright is committed to both.