WASHINGTON - Ivanka Trump urged out-of-work Americans to "find something new" Tuesday as part of a new jobs initiative designed to tout the benefits of skills training and career paths that do not require a college degree.
But the effort - complete with website, advertising campaign and virtual roundtable featuring Apple chief executive Tim Cook and IBM Chair Ginni Rometty - was swiftly derided on social media as "clueless" and "tone-deaf" given the pandemic, recession and Trump's own familial employment history.
"This initiative is about challenging the idea the traditional two- and four-year college is the only option to acquire the skills needed to secure a job," President Donald Trump's eldest daughter and White House adviser said in a Twitter post. "This work has never been more urgent."
The campaign comes with the country in the midst of a public health crisis that has upended entire industries and kicked off a recession that has sent the nation's unemployment rate shooting above 11%. The nation has 5.4 million job openings, according to the Labor Department, which is not nearly enough for the nearly 18 million Americans who are officially unemployed and the 33 million who are receiving unemployment benefits.
Many saw the campaign as insensitive given the suffering of Americans whose livelihoods disappeared as the pandemic forced companies to shutter or sharply curtail operations. And for many, Ivanka Trump - the daughter of a billionaire, who has become a multimillionaire in her own right - is the wrong person to speak to the challenges of finding a job.
"Go find something new in the middle of this pandemic while no one is hiring! Perhaps your father will hire you!" Jessica Huseman of ProPublica said in a Twitter post.
The campaign's website lists several "rising careers" that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will see job growth. But many of the positions are in lines of work that President Trump has railed against explicitly or indirectly.
Among the roles is wind turbine technician, which is projected to grow 57% through 2028. Yet the president has repeatedly ranted about wind turbines, describing them as "monsters" that botch the visual aesthetics of farms and fields. Research has shown that turbines significantly reduce carbon emissions. And wind energy has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any electricity-generating power source.
Another long-term career prospect the website recommends is contract tracer: the public health workers who race against time to reach people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and other contagious diseases, steering them to get tested and to quarantine. President Trump has repeatedly contradicted the public health guidance of his own government, which infectious-disease experts say sends mixed messages that have made it harder to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. So far, 3.3 million people in the U.S. have been infected and at least 132,000 people have died of COVID-19.
The nonprofit Ad Council created the "find something new" campaign in partnership with more than 20 organizations, including Apple, IBM, AT&T, Walmart, Lockheed Martin and the Business Roundtable. A corresponding website links to education and training options.