Future of Work Accelerator coming to N.J.

Initiative is aimed at spurring innovations that will improve lives of workers

The Future of Work Accelerator — an initiative aimed at spurring innovations that will improve the lives of workers — is coming to New Jersey, the state announced Tuesday.

The initiative aims to advance health and safety, improve access to benefits, strengthen training opportunities and bolster the voices of workers in the state.

Participants selected for the program will receive custom coaching, curated connections to national experts, introductions to funders and peers — and have the opportunity to pilot worker-centric programs and practices in New Jersey, state officials said.

The accelerator will be led by the New Jersey Office of Innovation, in partnership with the RSA’s Future of Work program and the Workers Lab. It is open to startups, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, public sector institutions and employees, unions and grassroots organizations interested in promoting innovative solutions.

The Future of Work Accelerator will focus on innovations that address the following themes:

  • Improving employment opportunities for workers via lifelong learning and reskilling initiatives, improved career and/or training guidance, or other such innovations;
  • Offering greater economic security and resilience through financial innovations like portable benefits solutions and crowdfunding initiatives;
  • Strengthening worker voice, ownership and power;
  • Enhancing employer practices (e.g., workplace safety innovations, hazard pay, portable benefits, hiring and recruitment technology);
  • Improving job opportunities, inclusion and financial support systems for disadvantaged groups or demographics (e.g., day laborers, immigrants, the elderly, rural workers, misclassified workers in the gig economy, minorities, etc.).

The Future of Work Accelerator is now accepting applications here. The accelerator kickoff and orientation will be in July 2021 and the program will run for nine months.

“In order to build the stronger and fairer economy New Jerseyans deserve, we need to support individuals and organizations creating the new future of work,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “That’s why I’m proud to announce the inaugural New Jersey Future of Work Accelerator.

“This collaborative initiative will identify ongoing and proposed efforts to improve job quality and economic security, provide connections to critical resources and prepare them to launch or scale up here in New Jersey. The work to rebuild our communities impacted by COVID-19 continues, and advancing economic security initiatives will be a key part of this effort.”

Beth Noveck, the state’s chief innovation officer, said the state is eager to bring new ideas to the workplace.

“We know there are innovators out there with software, methods, tools and solutions that could help to advance economic security for working families,” she said. “Whether you’re a nonprofit or for-profit organization, an individual or small team, a student or a worker interested in promoting innovative solutions for worker rights, worker safety and lifelong learning, the Future of Work Accelerator is designed to connect you with other innovators and enable you to pilot or scale your projects in New Jersey for the benefit of workers.”