Aspen Institute Releases Playbook for Employers to Invest in Economic Opportunity and Improve Business Outcomes

June 20, 2017

The playbook provides illuminating examples of employers’ upskilling strategies

Contact: Claire Daviss
Communications Manager
Economic Opportunities Program
The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, June 20, 2017 – The Aspen Institute announced today the release of the UpSkilling Playbook for Employers. The playbook is designed to be a tool for employers interested in investing in economic opportunities for frontline and entry-level workers, while at the same time improving business outcomes.

The playbook highlights examples of upskilling strategies, which are policies and practices used by employers to educate, train, and develop frontline workers. Models of upskilling featured in the report include apprenticeship programs, pre-employment training, high school completion and equivalency programs, new employee training, certification, and college degrees. The playbook features employers that have worked independently and in partnership with other organizations to plan, implement, and maintain upskilling strategies. Additionally, the playbook provides guidance for employers interested in upskilling strategies. It identifies areas employers can consider to decide whether and how to pursue upskilling strategies and how to maintain the success of upskilling strategies over time.

The UpSkilling Playbook for Employers is presented in a series of chapters on the Aspen Institute website. For the complete list of chapters found in the UpSkill Playbook, visit:

“The UpSkilling Playbook is a practical tool for employers interested in improving their businesses by investing in the skills of their workers,” said Jaime S. Fall, the playbook’s author and the director of UpSkill America, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. “We hope the playbook will inform a national conversation on sustainable jobs, expanding opportunity, and the role that employers can and do play.”

The UpSkill America Playbook for Employers is one of several interrelated projects supported by a $5.5 million grant provided by the Walmart Foundation to the Aspen Institute. The grant from the Walmart Foundation also supports the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions’ 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, and two additional projects led by the Economic Opportunities Program: the Working in America event series and Reimagine Retail. The grant was awarded to the Institute as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Opportunity initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort aimed at strengthening the  skills of the US retail workforce to meet the changing needs of the industry while  developing ways to make it easier for frontline workers to advance their careers.

UpSkill America is an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. It is an employer-led movement to expand opportunity for America’s workers and allow our economy and communities to thrive. The movement promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs. Led by a leadership team of employer organizations, UpSkill America’s mission is to recognize employers that invest in their frontline workers; promote the adoption of policies and practices used by employers to educate, train and develop frontline workers; and highlight effective local and regional workforce development partnerships and how they educate, train and develop individuals for success in the workplace. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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