With shorter durations and fewer barriers to entry, reskilling programs may serve as vehicles for social mobility and equity, as well as tools for creating a more adaptive workforce and inclusive economy. Nevertheless, much of the limited large-scale research on these types of programs was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, given the social and economic disruptions spurred by the pandemic, our ability to understand the impact of these types of programs in recent labor market conditions is limited. We fill this gap by leveraging three waves of a longitudinal household financial survey collected across all 50 US states during the pandemic. Through descriptive and inferential methods, we explore the sociodemographic characteristics related to reskilling and associated motivations, facilitators, and barriers, as well as the relationships between reskilling and measures of social mobility. We find that reskilling is positively related to entrepreneurship and, for Black respondents, to optimism. Moreover, we find that reskilling is not merely a tool for upward social mobility, but also economic stability. However, our results demonstrate that reskilling opportunities are stratified across race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status through both formal and informal mechanisms. We close with a discussion of implications for policy and practice.
Jabbari, J., Zheng, H., Roll, S. et al. How Did Reskilling During the COVID-19 Pandemic Relate to Entrepreneurship and Optimism? Barriers, Opportunities, and Implications for Equity. J Fam Econ Iss (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-023-09906-y