Employment and Jobs

Upskilling in the New Year

January 9, 2018  • Jaime S. Fall

As we turn our calendars to 2018, I wanted to recap important developments from UpSkill America in 2017 and relay some exciting things you can expect from us in the new year.

Looking back on 2017

2017 marked the release of the UpSkilling Playbook for Employers, a tool for employers interested in upskilling strategies to educate, train, and develop frontline workers. Read the full report at as.pn/upskilling.

In November, we announced Walmart awarded the initiative a $600,000 grant. With this grant, UpSkill America will expand its work to equip businesses with tools to educate, train, and develop frontline workers so that these workers can advance in their careers.

Finally, as 2017 ended, there were several exciting announcements that point to progress in the upskilling movement:

  • In a new upskilling model for gig economy companies, Lyft announced it would provide its workers access to personalized college advising, tuition discounts, and certificates and degrees from more than 80 online nonprofit universities and learning providers. Read More
  • Starbucks announced that its College Achievement Plan has now helped more than 1,000 Starbucks partners earn their diplomas and is helping an additional 9,000 partners work toward their degree. Read More
  • There are now more than 2,000 GED Works graduates. The program, which helps students complete requirements for high school equivalency credentials, has a rapidly expanding group of employer sponsors, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Walmart, Royal Cup, Scholastic, Sheetz, and Southeastern Grocers. Read More
  • We are receiving more reports from employers on the results they are seeing from their investments in education. One recent report from a McDonald’s franchise owner showed his participation in the Archways to Opportunity program has boosted his retention rate to double that of comparable employers. Read More
What to expect in 2018

2018 provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to create, expand, or improve upskilling programs. With the recently enacted cut in corporate tax rates, companies have new resources to put behind programs to help entry-level and frontline workers earn their high school diplomas or GEDs, earn and learn in an apprenticeship program, complete a certificate program, or even fulfill their dream of getting a college degree. For three years, UpSkill America has been tracking how employers design, implement, and manage these programs. We’re very excited about the work we have planned for 2018. Thanks to the grant mentioned above, we are going to be focused on four key activities this year:

  • Assessing employers’ needs for tools to implement more upskilling programs in one of eight areas, including: high school completion and equivalency; pre-employment training; new employee training; adult basic education; certifications; alternative credentials (i.e. badging); apprenticeship; and college degrees. Your input into this process is critical – fill out this brief, five-minute survey to let us know how we can help you.
  • Identifying existing upskilling support tools, and new tools where gaps exist, that can be adapted, expanded upon, and shared with the UpSkill America network.
  • Developing and testing tools to assist employers with upskilling program establishment, operation, improvement, and results.
  • Deploying upskilling tools through direct employer engagement and through employer-facing networks, such as employer, local and regional, and sector-based convenings, as well as workforce development initiative convenings with strong employer engagement.

2018 promises to be a great year for the upskilling movement. For those of you who have led the way on upskilling, we thank you. For those of you who are still assessing upskilling options for your company, there is no time like the present to engage. Please let us know how we can help by emailing me.

We’re seeing some exciting progress in the upskilling movement, and we would love for you to be a part of it. We look forward to working with you in 2018.

Jaime Fall is the director of UpSkill America, an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.


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2018 provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to create, expand, or improve #upskilling programs.

2017 was a great year for the #upskilling movement. 2018 promises to be even better.

In 2017, companies like @lyft, @Starbucks, & @McDonalds demonstrated the power of #upskilling. In 2018, let’s resolve to follow their lead.


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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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