NSC’s SkillSPAN Coalitions Are Reimagining and Transforming States’ Workforce Systems 

By Yasmin Fallahkhair, January 24, 2023

For over two decades, National Skills Coalition (NSC) has fought for a commitment to inclusive, high-quality skills training that puts workers on meaningful career pathways and helps businesses meet their talent needs. Since its launch in 2019, several critical skills policy advancements in states have been driven by NSC’s state action arm – the SkillSPAN network.

SkillSPAN coalitions are led by established thought-leaders, advocates, and policy experts that know their state and stakeholders best. In the last two years alone, the SkillSPAN network has successfully advocated for nearly $3 billion in state workforce funding with their members and for $44 billion in federal workforce funding with NSC’s larger network, including through the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In 2022, SkillSPAN coalitions continued to dedicate their efforts to advancing NSC priorities. For example, the following investments achieved in states are reflective of our Making College Work campaign because they improve the quality of and access to skills training and support services in community college programs.

  • $200 million to expand Future Ready Oregon, which supports career coaching, occupational training and job placement services, community college career pathways, registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, and a benefits navigator pilot program.
  • $55 million to strengthen Michigan Reconnect, a program that covers the cost of tuition for adults 25 or older to complete an associate degree or Pell-eligible certificate. An additional $6M was also committed to grants that provide wraparound supports to eligible participants, including the cost of books, childcare, internet, and transportation.
  • $5.4 million in Georgia to expand employer-sponsored registered apprenticeships for high-demand sectors.

SkillSPAN coalitions also made an impact outside of legislatures with state leaders. Examples include:

  • In Texas, members actively participated in digital equity discussions with the Comptroller of Public Accounts, who is tasked with overseeing the state’s Broadband Development Office and the creation of the state broadband plan. This new responsibility for the Comptroller stems from a bill that the coalition successfully advanced in 2021, in addition to commitments of $3.75 million to support digital inclusion and workforce initiatives. These victories are directly tied to NSC’s Digital Equity @ Work campaign, which aims to guarantee foundational digital skills for all, lifelong upskilling for current workers, and rapid re-skilling for those who’ve lost their jobs.
  • Members in Wisconsin were tapped by the Governor’s office to serve as advocates for federal infrastructure funds that support apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. Vice President Kamala Harris also visited the coalition’s lead organization (WRTP-Big Step) to tour the skills training facility and discuss the importance of direct use of federal workforce funds to support large-scale community-based infrastructure projects. NSC’s People-Powered Infrastructure campaign continues to beat the drum on the importance of both improvements in physical infrastructure and the investments necessary to establish a diverse, multigenerational workforce equipped to contribute to these advancements.
  • In Connecticut, SkillSPAN members worked closely with the Governor’s Workforce Council to develop a portal for people to find skills training programs tied to high-demand industries. This one-stop shop also aims to increase access to more robust workforce data by reporting sixty-four different data points that examine the outcomes of participating programs and tracking individuals from employment in perpetuity through wage records. NSC has long fought for the collection, disaggregation, and reporting of data to support workforce development and our Data for Inclusive Economic Recovery framework charges states with leveraging data policies to meet this goal and the goal of diminishing structural inequities.

What’s to come in 2023?

  • As this year’s legislative sessions kick off, the SkillSPAN network remains committed to advancements that improve the workforce and education system, expand digital equity, support people-powered infrastructure, and make data a tool for inclusive economic recovery. NSC will continue to provide updates on the actions and impact of our state action arm throughout the year through our blog and social media.


More about NSC’s SkillSPAN Network

SkillSPAN is the first and only national network of state-based, multi-stakeholder coalitions that develop and promote skills policies. With coalitions in twenty states, this network connects workforce experts and skills advocates, amplifies collective voices in state capitals, and inspires action at the federal level.

Each SkillSPAN coalition is made up of members reflective of the workforce system, including but not limited to policy and research organizations, community-based organizations, businesses, unions, Chambers, community colleges, workforce boards, and state and local agencies. In each state, a lead organization oversees the coalition and convenes members to develop and advocate for a shared policy agenda that advances an inclusive economy. NSC supports our state action arm by providing cross-state learning opportunities, policy development and analysis, and coalition-building and advocacy strategies.

Equity is at the core of the SkillSPAN network. All coalitions work to advance policies and investments that equip the workers most impacted by economics shifts and held back by structural barriers to equitably participate in – and benefit from – a growing economy.