A new White House-backed ad campaign aims to encourage people who are unemployed or unhappy in their careers to go out and "find something new." The campaign is rolling out as the nation's jobless rate remains elevated, with almost 18 million Americans out of work following the economic hit of the coronavirus pandemic.
The opening ad in the "Find Something New" campaign beginning Tuesday features ordinary people sharing their stories. A companion website provides links to training and other resources.
The Trump administration has long emphasized skills-based job and vocational training as an alternative to two- or four-year college degree programs, arguing that college isn't for everyone and that many jobs don't require a degree.
But the long-in-the-works effort has taken on a new sense of urgency after the coronavirus outbreak cost millions of people their jobs, many of which may be lost forever.
The campaign is also facing criticisms of tone deafness given that number of unemployed workers has surged by 12 million since February. Even though the jobless rate has declined to 11.1% in June from a peak of 14.7% in April, it still remains higher than the Great Recession.
Workers who are seeking new employment may struggle to find a job, even if they are willing to try something new. Job listings have slumped almost 6% in the last two weeks, with almost one-third of employers cutting back on job openings since late June, according to a new study from employment site Glassdoor.
The campaign is a product of the White House's American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which President Donald Trump created in 2018. The board is co-chaired by Trump's daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
"There has never been a more critical time for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to be aware of the multiple pathways to career success and gain the vocational training and skills they need to fill jobs in a changing economy," said Ivanka Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
The nonprofit Ad Council on Tuesday was announcing "Find Something New," which it created in collaboration with IBM, Apple and members of the Business Roundtable, along with the White House and the workforce policy advisory board.
"Got to keep going"
The initial 30-second spot features ordinary people talking about their experiences with career challenges and transitions. Among them are a fitness instructor who completed an apprenticeship program and became a welder after her gym went under, and a man who lost his job twice in one year, took online certification courses and now works as a tech consultant.
"I got laid off twice, but you got to keep going," the man says, adding later on in the ad: "I'm now a consultant in the tech space."
Another woman says she had no career plan after finishing high school, but "I found a medical course online" and became a phlebotomist. "You will find something," she says.
The companion website offers links to education and training options, including online and virtual learning.
Additional ads are expected to be produced. All will appear nationwide across TV, digital and print platforms in time and space donated by various media companies, the Ad Council said.
Funding was provided by more than 20 corporations and organizations, including Apple, IBM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Ad Council declined to disclose the cost of the campaign. which will run at least through the end of the year.