New project will help states align adult education/workforce systems, equipping adults to build skills and achieve economic mobility

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, September 07, 2017

National Skills Coalition is leading a new project to help states align public and private investments to improve skill-building and economic mobility for workers with limited foundational skills. Titled “Building the Foundation: Strengthening Public-Private Systems for Upskilling Workers,” the effort is an initiative of NSC with support from National College Transition Network at World Education Inc. The project is funded by a grant from Walmart, as part of Walmart Giving’s Retail Opportunity Initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort aimed at making it easier for front-line workers to advance their careers in retail or adjacent sectors by building transferable skills.

There are more than 36 million workers with foundational skill gaps in the US today – including people who have reading, math, spoken English, or technology skill needs. The issue is especially acute in the service sector, where a recent NSC study found that 74% of workers in the target occupations lack key foundational skills. These skill gaps are an invisible drag on productivity, compromising economic progress for workers and their employers.

As part of this new initiative, NSC will select several states to receive technical assistance starting in Fall 2017. The 18-month project will capitalize on momentum in states that are innovating in the area of adult education and upskilling, providing a boost that enables state leaders to better-align existing public and private investments and increase the number of individuals who benefit from effective upskilling approaches.

Leaders from the selected states will also be invited to participate in peer learning activities where they can share expertise with other state administrators and advocates. NSC will also support the engagement of business and industry leaders in upskilling systems alignment efforts via the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) initiative. BLU is co-convened by NSC and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

An additional component of the project will provide technical assistance to localities within select states. This component will be carried out by the Boston-based National College Transition Network (NCTN).

NCTN will amplify the work being done at the state level by helping selected localities implement effective upskilling frameworks on the ground. A key consideration will be how to ensure that local leaders can use their expertise to implement state policies in a way that is responsive to both adult learner/jobseeker and business needs.

More information on this project will be made available in Fall 2017 when states have been selected.