Employment and Jobs

A Summer of Upskilling

August 27, 2019  • UpSkill America & Jaime S. Fall

As summer winds down and kids and working adult learners head back to school, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what a monumental summer it was for the upskilling movement. Here is a quick recap of many of the announcements that came out this summer that shows the tremendous momentum behind the upskilling movement. Please let us know if you plan to create, expand, or improve upskilling programs and how we might be of help.

Business Roundtable

The most far-reaching announcement was Business Roundtable’s updated Principles of Corporate Governance—titled “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation”—which now includes a shared commitment to:

Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world.

Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers representing some of the country’s largest employers, and its new commitment was signed by leaders at over 180 companies, including Accenture, Amazon, Aon, Apple, Aramark, AT&T, Boeing, Chevron, Comcast, CVS, FedEx, Ford, GM, IBM, Marriott, MasterCard, PepsiCo, PwC, Salesforce, Target, UPS, Visa, Walmart, and more. Click here to read more.

Even before this announcement, farsighted companies were making serious moves this season. While most of us were trying to stay cool, the upskilling movement was heating up.


Amazon committed $700 million to upskill 100,000 employees by 2025, including through tuition assistance, apprenticeships, training, and more. Among its slate of new and expanded programs is the opportunity for many non-technical employees to train for technical roles, a rarity for many technology companies. To mark the occasion, I wrote a guest post on Amazon’s Day One blog underscoring the value of developing workers’ technical skills. The piece highlights the value that upskilling can bring to an organization and notes its growing appreciation by forward-looking employers. As I observe,

In this tight labor market, employers are increasingly understanding that if they can’t “buy” talent (hire it from the outside), they have no choice but to “build” it by developing the skills of their existing workers.

To learn more about Amazon’s announcement, click here. To read the blog post, click here.


Aramark announced it will give employees the opportunity to receive full tuition coverage for college degrees. The Aramark Frontline Education Program is part of a $90 million investment in wages, benefits, training, and development. Eligible employees will be able to apply beginning October 2019 for enrollment in spring 2020 at high-quality colleges, like Arizona State University. Learn more.


The Walt Disney Company celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of its free education program, Disney Aspire, which gives employees the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, college degree, certificate, and more. The number of educational offerings has doubled since launch and includes nearly 300 academic paths at 11 different schools. More than 8,000 employees enrolled in classes, giving it a remarkable take-up rate of nearly 9% in the first year. Learn more.

Eat’n Park

Our colleagues at Reimagine Retail released a profile documenting the efforts of Eat’n Park to upskill its workforce through digital training. As the authors note,

Online upskilling programs have the potential to support continuous, lifelong learning that can help adults learn new skills and advance in a changing labor market. Yet the online learning landscape can be difficult to navigate… Companies can play an important role in making online upskilling accessible and relevant to frontline workers.

The report shares findings from a pilot customer service training program, developed in partnership with Robert Morris University and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Learn more.


JetBlue announced plans to add master’s degrees to its JetBlue Scholars program, giving employees more opportunities to advance their education. Participants can study leadership, business management, information technology, aviation management, or liberal arts through one of five regionally accredited institutions, at a total cost of around $13,000 – $30,000. In addition to tuition discounts and scholarships, students will benefit from access to specialized support services. JetBlue Scholars has received accolades from the Department of Education and has now celebrated several years of graduates from the program. Learn more.


ManpowerGroup announced it will offer the GED program for free to eligible employees. Participants will have access to online prep courses, practice tests, and personal coaching from application to graduation, enabling them to earn their diploma within weeks. This new benefit is an extension of ManpowerGroup’s upskilling program, MyPath, and builds on the company’s recent commitment to upskill 130,000 workers in five years. Learn more.


In June, Walmart announced it’s expanding Live Better U, the company’s signature education benefit, to include new opportunities for employees and new resources for high school students. Among these additions is Live Better U’s expanded dollar-a-day college degree program, which now includes new fields of study like cybersecurity and computer science. Walmart is also giving high school students access to all of its learning programs, as well as free ACT/SAT prep, up to seven hours of free college credit, and more flexible scheduling options. Learn more.

Working Scholars

Working Scholar graduate celebrates in front of the Study.com logoMountain View Working Scholars celebrated its first class of 18 graduates. The program allows anyone who lives or works in Mountain View, California, to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration or liberal arts for free online. Administered by Study.com in partnership with Thomas Edison University, Working Scholars is also open to residents of several other California cities, including East Palo Alto, Gilroy, and Sunnyvale, as well as civic employees in Perris, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. Learn more.



For the #upskilling movement, there is no summer vacation. Organizations like @Amazon, @Aramark, @AspenWorkforce, @BizRoundtable, @JetBlue, @Studydotcom, @ManpowerGroup, @Walmart, & @WaltDisneyCo have been making serious investments.

While most of us were trying to stay cool, the #upskilling movement was heating up. Hear announcements from @Amazon, @Aramark, @AspenWorkforce, @BizRoundtable, @JetBlue, @Studydotcom, @ManpowerGroup, @Walmart, @WaltDisneyCo, and more.

Thanks to the hard work of @JudySamuelson at @AspenBizSociety, businesses are beginning to recognize the value of investing in their employees. Read more in a new statement by @BizRoundtable.


Employment and Jobs
Investing in education, training, and development for workers
July 11, 2019 • UpSkill America & 1 more


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UpSkill America is an employer-led movement that promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs. UpSkill America is an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.

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