STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Verizon's alternative to layoffs: Retraining 20,000 workers

Verizon hasn't laid off any of its 135,000 employees during the pandemic. Instead, the company has retrained around 20,000 workers for new careers.It'...

Posted: Jul 14, 2020 9:43 AM

Verizon hasn't laid off any of its 135,000 employees during the pandemic. Instead, the company has retrained around 20,000 workers for new careers.

It's part of Verizon's responsible business plan announced Tuesday. Dubbed Citizen Verizon, the plan includes a pledge to prepare 500,000 mostly lower-wage people for jobs of the future by 2030 through skills training and job advancement tools.

While it's an expensive endeavor as other companies cut costs — millions of Americans are now collecting unemployment because of the unprecedented health crisis — Verizon chose to focus on retraining workers, CEO Hans Vestberg told CNN Business in an exclusive interview.

"Verizon, as a large corporation, needs to take actions and be responsible here," said Vestberg, who became CEO two years ago, later adding, "Large corporations have far bigger impacts than governments even, sometimes. We feel that responsibility as a corporation."

The retraining programs will aim to teach vulnerable populations — especially those whose jobs are threatened by automation — digital skills and provide the mentorship needed to thrive in the modern economy. Verizon said the focus will be on lower-wage workers, including those who work in factories, restaurants and as drivers. There will be an emphasis on young, Black and Hispanic workers who have not gone to college.

As part of Citizen Verizon, the company is creating an education platform designed to support hybrid learning models being used in school districts across the United States. Verizon said the platform will provide digital literacy training for parents, remote learning resources for teachers and tech guidance for school districts. The program aims to provide 10 million children with digital access and skills training by 2030.

Biden calls for end of 'shareholder capitalism.' Verizon says it's already there

In May, Verizon ranked No. 1 in a Forbes and JUST Capital list of the responses to the pandemic among America's top publicly traded employers.

"Many of the decisions you're taking in a crisis like this, they will follow you for years because this is when people, customers, employees will remember how we acted," Vestberg said.

Verizon said it spent nearly $216 million last year in learning and development programs its employees.

The comments come amid a broader debate over the role of Corporate America. Last year, the Business Roundtable said corporations are responsible for improving society by serving all stakeholders — not just shareholders.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, declared in a major speech last week that he will end the era of "shareholder capitalism."

Vestberg, a former senior executive at Swedish telecom giant Ericsson, said that's "how we act" every day: "We want a positive outcome for all of our stakeholders because ultimately, to have a successful and growing company, the only way is actually to manage your customers, your shareholders, your employees and society."

But Vestberg stresses that doesn't mean Verizon isn't still focused on making money.

"We should grow because ultimately that gives us the liberty to actually act on all the stakeholders," he said.

Corporate America is 'not doing enough' to fix inequality

But the recent protests around racial inequality suggest that far too many Americans have been left behind in the modern economy.

The median net worth of white households is about 10 times the median net worth of Black households, according to the Federal Reserve. The median income for Black households less than 60% of that of white households.

The pandemic is only worsening America's inequality problem. Nearly 40% of low-income workers lost their jobs in March, the Fed has said. The Black unemployment rate stood at 15.4% in June, compared with 10.1% for Whites.

"It's clear they're not doing enough," Vestberg said of efforts by large companies to narrow those gaps. "Every corporation, every organization needs to do this better in order to create more equality, both here in the US but also in the rest of the world."

Terre Haute
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 54°
Robinson
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 48°
Indianapolis
Mostly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 56°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 49°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 46°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Marshall
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Sunny Weekend Ahead
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Linton pounds North Daviess

Image

North Central upsets Park Tudor

Image

Parke Heritage wins at South Vermillion

Image

Vincennes Lincoln falls on the road

Image

North Knox beats Pike Central

Image

Riverton Parke pounds Cloverdale

Image

South Putnam beats West Vigo

Image

Sullivan hands Owen Valley their first loss

Image

Northview beats TH South for first time since 1995

Image

THN falls on homecoming

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1612129

Reported Deaths: 27216
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61543610987
DuPage1042681360
Will876561092
Lake773641061
Kane66108852
Winnebago39170545
Madison38345578
St. Clair35140571
McHenry33177317
Peoria26076363
Champaign25967184
Sangamon24718273
McLean22003208
Tazewell19833326
Rock Island17919348
Kankakee16856235
Kendall15537107
Macon14565244
LaSalle14539278
Vermilion13343190
Adams12733148
DeKalb11729129
Williamson11528160
Whiteside7944176
Jackson774389
Boone762782
Coles7404113
Ogle718087
Grundy704582
Franklin693999
Clinton683798
Knox6715166
Marion6581138
Macoupin6525100
Henry625674
Effingham612882
Jefferson6116132
Livingston574196
Woodford556191
Stephenson549789
Randolph532197
Monroe510199
Christian496380
Fulton491570
Morgan488996
Logan478474
Montgomery470476
Lee460658
Bureau429188
Perry416671
Saline414064
Fayette403459
Iroquois396973
McDonough356656
Jersey324253
Shelby317343
Crawford307930
Douglas307636
Lawrence303431
Union297347
Wayne276057
White267730
Richland264455
Hancock258834
Pike258056
Clark253538
Cass252228
Bond244824
Clay242247
Edgar237545
Ford235956
Warren227161
Carroll226537
Johnson214925
Moultrie212931
Jo Daviess207226
Washington206627
Wabash202616
Greene200939
Mason200351
Massac200144
De Witt196830
Piatt192114
Mercer191234
Cumberland179825
Menard160812
Jasper153418
Marshall135621
Hamilton129821
Brown10228
Pulaski99211
Schuyler9748
Edwards96815
Stark77227
Gallatin7557
Scott6975
Alexander68111
Henderson66114
Calhoun6452
Hardin56414
Putnam5464
Pope4945
Unassigned1812432
Out of IL60

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482