New coalitions from 10 states will join NSC’s SkillSPAN, expanding network reach to advocate for skills training across 20 states

By Brooke DeRenzis, January 23, 2020

National Skills Coalition has selected coalitions from ten states to join SkillSPAN (Skills State Policy Advocacy Network) in 2020 – doubling the number of coalitions in the network since its launch last year. SkillSPAN is a nationwide network of state coalitions expanding access to skills training for thousands of people through state policy changes. With a total of twenty state coalitions in the network, SkillSPAN is poised to promote policies that support all workers’ career aspirations, boost local businesses, and help states build strong, inclusive economies.

Convened by a lead organization, SkillSPAN coalitions include policy and research organizations, community-based organizations, businesses, unions, community colleges, workforce boards, state and local agencies, and others advocating for a shared skills agenda. As a nationwide network, SkillSPAN leverages the combined expertise of state coalition members and amplifies their collective voices in state capitols across the nation.

The 2020 SkillSPAN network and coalition leads

Alabama: Central Six Development Council
California: California EDGE Coalition
Colorado: Colorado Center on Law and Policy
Connecticut: United Way of Connecticut
Georgia: Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
Illinois: Chicago Jobs Council
Indiana: Indiana Institute for Working Families
Iowa: United Way of Central Iowa
Louisiana: Louisiana Budget Project
Maryland: Jobs Opportunities Task Force
Massachusetts: SkillWorks & The Workforce Solutions Group
Michigan: United Way of Southeast Michigan
New York: New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals
North Carolina:
North Carolina Justice Center
Ohio: Ohio Workforce Coalition
Oregon: Portland Community College
Tennessee: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Texas: United Ways of Texas
Washington state
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership & Building Industry Group Skilled Trade Employment Programs (WRTP/BIG STEP)

Jobs that require skills training beyond high school but not a four-year degree are the backbone of the American economy. Many people want to upgrade their skills but can’t access or afford the training they need to step into a better career. And while there are lots of innovative training programs, there simply aren’t enough to meet the needs of thousands of workers and businesses as our economy changes.

That’s where SkillSPAN comes in. Coalitions in our network are advocating for public policies that can support and scale effective training programs while also removing systemic barriers to skills training. They are advocating for greater investments in skills training so that more workers and businesses can succeed in the modern economy. And they are utilizing resources like NSC’s Roadmap for Racial Equity to advocate for state-specific policy solutions that ensure that everyone has a fair shot at achieving economic success.

Take two examples from last year: the Illinois SkillSPAN coalition successfully advocated for changes to a state safety net policy in order to expand high-quality career pathways for people who want skills training while also shoring up food security. Meanwhile, SkillSPAN partners in Georgia succeeded in extending the state’s largest scholarship program to students who have been out of high school for up to ten years – making community college more affordable for thousands more young adults. In both cases, SkillSPAN partners showed why policy changes were necessary to create more equitable training opportunities and a more inclusive workforce.

In 2020, the twenty SkillSPAN coalitions will focus on skills training policies across a range of issues, including apprenticeship, postsecondary education, upskilling, and supportive services. To support this work, NSC will provide grants to SkillSPAN coalitions, along with regular opportunities for cross-state learning and assistance with policy development and analysis, coalition-building, and strategic communication.

NSC will also offer more intensive, time-limited capacity-building opportunities to select SkillSPAN coalition members. In 2020, four SkillSPAN coalition leads will participate in our Supportive Services Academy so that people with lower incomes have supports like transportation and childcare as they pursue skills training. Meanwhile, leaders of California’s community-based organizations are participating in a California Advocacy and Policy Academy to use their practical experience to shape and advocate for meaningful skills training polices as members of a state network.

In many states, SkillSPAN coalitions will also work with Business Leaders United (BLU) state affiliates to leverage business voices in their advocacy. BLU — supported by NSC and National Fund for Workforce Solutions – includes businesses who are working with local partners to train, hire, and upskill workers and who want policymakers to follow their lead and invest in workers’ skills.

With plans to expand beyond twenty states in coming years, SkillSPAN will increase skills and job training opportunities for thousands of American workers, businesses, and communities across the nation. If you would like to connect with SkillSPAN partners in your state or across the country, please reach out!