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By Zoë Baird and Brad Smith Today we announced a three year partnership between The Markle Foundation and Microsoft Philanthropies. Microsoft is investing more than $25 million over three years in Markle and the expansion of its successful Skillful initiative, first across Colorado and then to other states. This is one of the single biggest philanthropic investments Microsoft Philanthropies has made, reflecting the importance of the work involved. The workforce is undergoing an upheaval unlike anything we’ve seen since coal and steam propelled machines to the forefront of industry in the 19th Century. Technological advancements, like cloud computing, computer automation, and artificial intelligence, are demanding new skills and making long-familiar occupations almost unrecognizable. Here in the United States, millions of Americans, whose skills were valuable just a few years ago, find themselves underemployed—or worse, out of work altogether. On the flip side, employers who are digitally transforming their own operations are unable to find enough skilled workers to effectively run their businesses.
Aqua Hot Heating Systems is an advanced manufacturing company just north of Denver, Colorado that specializes in heating and cooling systems for RVs, commercial fleets, and school buses, as well as industrial and oilfield applications. Despite Aqua Hot’s success as a company with 36 employees, CEO Paul Harter recently found himself struggling to retain qualified production techs and welders, and recruit the skilled talent he needed to grow and meet the demands of Aqua Hot’s customers. The traditional methods of hiring weren’t working anymore. Paul connected with the Skillful team to learn more about skills-based employer practices as well as the tools and supports Skillful was offering to local Colorado employers. After several months of working with Skillful’s employer team, Aqua Hot has made significant changes to their hiring practices with really positive results. According to Paul, it has led the entire organization to change the way they think about the work and what makes a successful employee. Job openings that had previously seemed impossible to fill are now drawing a much greater number of qualified applicants. The new skills-based office culture is also helping to open up professional development pathways within Aqua Hot. Paul is optimistic that these growth opportunities will also contribute to higher retention. “A big change for us is how we think about skills in job descriptions,” Paul said. “Also, rather than focusing on titles or degrees on an applicant’s resume, I’m looking to see what soft skills and job-related skills they offer. The end result is that we not only have more applicants applying, but we have applicants who are better aligned with the job.” Visit Skillful.com
After high school, Ron Gallegos attended the University of Denver. But due to a financial set-back, he had to forgo formal education during his junior year in favor of full-time employment. He began working different jobs, first managing a local gas station, and eventually getting a job as an area manager for a facilities services company that handled maintenance projects for malls and department stores across Colorado. His work took him all over the state, seven days a week, but with two young kids at home, he knew he needed a change of pace. In order to grow professionally and to have the career he wanted, Ron needed new skills. He took a leap of faith and signed up for a PC technician (A+) certification course at Emily Griffith Technical College. Soon after classes began, Ron attended a job fair hosted by Skillful at Emily Griffith. There he met a Skillful representative and was immediately interested in everything Skillful had to offer. Skillful’s partnership with LinkedIn and the focus on skills-based hiring practices impressed him. After the job fair, Ron continued to stay in touch with the Skillful rep and soon attended several other Skillful events where he met local IT professionals and leading employers. Not only was Ron discovering what types of IT skills were most in demand, but he was also networking and learning how to land high-growth jobs. In Ron’s own words, “I’ve been able to continue to grow with Skillful and use it for so much, including career coaching and networking. It’s helped me widen my scope for potential employment opportunities.” Ron continued to work with Skillful representatives and coaches, who helped to update his resume, improve his LinkedIn profile, and set up informational interviews with employees at local IT companies. By the time Ron had completed his coursework at and received two IT certificates, he already had several job offers on the table. Yet Ron decided to take another leap of faith and open his own tech support business. He values the ability to work from home and be there for his two young children. And with the networking skills he had honed and relationships he had built over the past nine months, he was able to quickly build up an impressive clientele. Along with the flexibility to spend more time with his kids, Ron’s now making more money with his own business than he was before as an area manager, and he sees a clear career path ahead of him. “It’s all looking bright for me,” Ron stated recently. He credits Skillful and its support system for broadening his vision. He’s continuing to add skills to his resume, and considering bringing on additional staff to help grow his business. Ron is also giving back to the Skillful community, volunteering as a mentor for others interested in getting into the IT field. Visit Skillful.com
Panelists: Moderator: Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento; Chair, USCM Jobs, Education and the Workforce Standing Committee Richard Berry, Mayor of Albuquerque Beth Cobert, CEO, Skillful, The Markle Foundation Jason Botel, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education Juan Garcia, Amazon's Global Leader for Career Advancement Automation, AI and the Future Workforce of America’s Cities: Solutions for Creating a Skills-Based Labor Market As robots, automation and artificial intelligence perform more tasks and there is massive disruption of jobs, experts say a wider array of education and skills-building programs will be created to meet new demands. Will well- trained and skilled workers be able to keep pace with the efficiency gains of artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation? The private sector, philanthropy and Mayors are rising to the challenge through investments in initiatives and approaches that rapidly train currently displaced workers and youth for emerging high wage, high growth jobs. Several policy and market-based solutions have been promoted to address the loss of employment and wages forecast by technologists and economists including: supporting the adoption of micro credentials and digital badges that enhance employers capacity to institute skills-based hiring practices to provide increased access to talent, aligning employers needs and educator curriculum through student internships and teacher externships so that instructors can teach in demand skills and young people are ready for entry level careers, and using data and technology platforms to facilitate displaced workers find training that can support them in the search for their next career.
The Hill Zoë BairdPresident Trump has started to lay out his principles for a $1 trillion makeover of America’s roads, bridges, waterways, electrical grid, and air traffic control system. His plan to modernize America’s infrastructure will require the administration and Congress to work together if it is to be enacted later this year. Whatever the contours of the bill, the plan will have to first overcome a significant problem that already plagues the U.S. economy: a severe lack of skilled workers necessary to turn job-creation goals into reality. As the White House works on its proposal, it should make skills training for infrastructure-related jobs a central part of the plan. As the president and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have rightly said, America’s low unemployment rate, currently at 4.3 percent, is a misleading snapshot. Research shows that 46 percent of Americans consider themselves underemployed. While the recent jobs report shows that 6.9 million people are out of work, millions more have reportedly dropped out of the workforce altogether. Yet, the problem isn’t a lack of jobs: a record-high 6 million jobs are going unfilled across America today in large part because employers say they cannot find workers with the skills they need to fill them. It’s a problem that is especially pronounced in the construction and infrastructure industry, which requires a high number of skilled workers in positions like heavy equipment operators and industrial electricians — many of which require new digital competencies, from laser-guided screeds used by concrete contractors to remote-controlled robots necessary for demolition work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that there are 203,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S., while the National Association of Homebuilders has reported that the number of open construction positions jumped by 81 percent from 2014 to 2016. A 2016 Manpower Group report found that skilled trade jobs are the hardest jobs to fill in the U.S. for the seventh consecutive year, with 46 percent of U.S. employers surveyed struggling to fill such positions, a jump from 32 percent in 2015. Building the skills of our workforce is a core investment in the infrastructure of a successful economy, and will give many more Americans the tools and resources to connect to meaningful employment while delivering the promise of an infrastructure bill. That’s why it came as a surprise that the president’s first full budget submitted to Congress proposes cuts across job training programs, including 40 percent cuts to the Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation & Opportunity grants, $5 million from the Department’s apprenticeship grants, and nearly 20 percent from the Department of Education’s Perkins Grants for career and technical education. At a moment when the president’s oft-stated job-creation plans — from renegotiating trade deals to re-shoring manufacturing jobs to restructuring the tax code — faces a longer road, skills training is the quickest path to putting Americans back to work. President Trump’s infrastructure initiative is an opportunity to seize this moment and transform our nation’s infrastructure and our nation’s workforce. To do this, the investments for physical infrastructure ought to include investment for specific training for infrastructure-related jobs. Repairs to bridges and roads can be coupled with surface transportation workforce development. Upgrades to the electrical system can be paired with training for digitally-enabled utility jobs like network administrators and wind turbine service administrators, many of which barely existed a decade ago. Modernizing the nation’s air-traffic control system as the president proposed, or in any other manner, could be paired with advanced training on the digital satellite-based tracking systems necessary to replace the outdated land-based training that controllers still use to guide flights into the U.S. today. This isn’t just the federal government’s responsibility; state governments, companies, educators, and local communities should work together to seize the opportunity to ensure our workforce is prepared to fill the newly created infrastructure jobs: starting with increased support for career and technical education, community colleges, and financial aid resources such as Pell Grants for job training programs like coding boot camps. We should use tax incentives to boost employee training and apprenticeship programs between employers and schools. And we should work to increase transparency in the outcomes of training programs, so Americans can make informed choices that lead to career success. Across America, there is a growing coalition of organizations from all sectors working to provide 21st century skills for 21st century jobs. From TechHire, a group that connects job seekers to employers in the tech sector; to the Hope Street Group, which leverages private sector tools to improve social systems like job training programs, opportunity is a team effort. At the Markle Foundation, we have seen the power of job training firsthand. For the past two years, we have worked in Colorado with local businesses, workers, educators, religious leaders, state legislators, and LinkedIn to enable those 21st century skills. Together, we are working to create a skills-based labor market that helps job seekers discover and train in the skills employers are looking for. Now is the time for politicians of both parties to come together and make skills-based training a central principle in our efforts to put America back to work. A century ago, the public and private sectors came together to create universal access to public education through the 12th grade to build the skills necessary to transform the American workforce for success in the Industrial Age. Today, we can establish a similar legacy for the Digital Age. Skills-based training is not all we need to do to fix the labor market; but it is a foundation upon which we can help every American find their place in the new economy. Baird is CEO and president of the Markle Foundation, which through its Skillful initiative is working to help Americans prepare for today’s rapidly changing jobs in the digital economy. She wrote the preface to and is coauthor of the book, America’s Moment: Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age.
Markle Foundation CEO and President Zoë Baird provided the keynote address at the Western Pathways Conference. Zoë discussed why everyone with a smartphone should be able to have a smart career and Markle’s work to help Americans succeed in the digital economy. Interactive Breakout: A New Way to Hire: A Hands-on Session on Skill-based Employment Practices hosted by Skillful Type: Panel Discussion Date: May 12, 2017 Time: 3:30 p.m. MT Venue: Denver, CO Panelists: Moderator: Andi Rugg, Executive Director, Skillful Colorado Jon Kinning, COO and EVP, RK Mechanical Adam Crowe, Business Services Manager, Larimer County Workforce Center Alexandra Peterson, Consultant, CareerWise Colorado View the Full Agenda
Linkedin Influencer Zoë Baird Americans are facing a workers’ paradox. Job openings are at near-record high levels1. There are 5.7 million jobs across the country right now that are unfilled2. At the same time, too many Americans are frustrated by a lack of economic opportunity. Better wages and career growth are still rarities. It’s clear that yesterday’s workforce strategies do not fit today’s economy. Everyone who has a smartphone should be able to have a smart career. A smart career requires skills that go beyond those needed in the past. While America’s transition to the digital economy has brought tremendous opportunity for some, it also has shattered traditional career paths for others. For the nearly seven out of ten Americans without a college degree, the effects of this transition are even more acute. Today, if your highest level of educational attainment is a high school diploma, there are 7.3 million fewer jobs than there were in 19893. Americans all across the country recognize that something isn’t working. In a telling poll released just before the election by the Pew Research Center in association with the Markle Foundation, 65 percent of respondents said good jobs are difficult to find where they live, and 63 percent said there is less job security now than 20 to 30 years ago4. For job-seekers, employers, and policymakers, this conundrum is more than a puzzle —it’s the most pressing economic question in recent memory. But, unlike other paradoxes, this one has a solution. It’s time for Congress and the administration to lead by rebuilding programs and incentives that can transform our labor market into one that values skills—not just traditional college degrees that are out of reach for most Americans. Almost half of today’s available jobs are still open due to a lack of skilled talent5. About half of all job openings through 2024 in the U.S. will be “middle-skill” positions6 that come with good wages7 and more potential for career growth. But many of them will demand new skills that were not required for jobs of the past. During a recent congressional hearing on job training programs at which I testified, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle spoke to how the lack of a college degree can skew the way an employer views a jobseeker — even if that candidate has the right skills for the job. As a society, we must fundamentally rethink the way we view middle-skill jobs by placing a higher value on them and the alternative training paths to prepare for them. The process for acquiring new job skills must be attainable for any American who wants them. What we need is a Smart Career Skills Campaign. Lawmakers and the administration can help ensure our workforce is prepared for this new economy by deploying financial aid resources, such as Pell Grants, for job training programs like coding boot camps and community college programs. Additionally, Congress should expand funding for apprenticeship programs, and give tax credits to businesses to make significant investments in employee training. Workforce training should also be included in any federal infrastructure spending plan so that any American who wants a job rebuilding our nation’s roads, bridges, and other vital networks can learn the necessary skills to get one. Even construction workers now need the skills to read digital records, construct 3D images, and sometimes even fly drones8. And when workers are no longer needed in construction jobs, they will need retraining programs to help them keep up with the ever-changing economy. Congress and the administration can also help provide workforce centers—which help put job-seekers on the path to career growth—with the technology tools they need to maximize their impact. And they should make government jobs data such as O*Net more robust so it is easier to identify in-demand skills. Getting more Americans onto meaningful career paths is why Markle and partners launched Skillful in Colorado last year. Skillful is integrating businesses, state government, non-profits, and educators to forge a new way of creating and accessing opportunity. Using data and technology tools, Skillful is providing transparency to help job seekers identify the skills they need for the jobs they want — and how they can get them. And it’s helping employers identify the skills they need for their business to grow, and helping educators learn which skills are in demand in their communities. Much as we did one hundred years ago to help Americans transition to the Industrial Age by inventing the high school, we need to create the systems today that support people in getting the skills needed to get good jobs in the digital economy. Then, and only then, can we solve the paradox and unlock the true potential of our nation’s best asset: our skilled and talented workforce. Zoë Baird CEO and President The Markle Foundation 1. http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/16/jolts-for-january-2017-reported-by-the-bureau-of-labor-statistics.html 2. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm 3. https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/Americas-Divided-Recovery-web.pdf 4. https://www.markle.org/sites/default/files/State-of-American-Jobs.pdf 5. See “United States” bar in the “Interactive Talent Shortage Explorer Tool” available at: http://www.manpowergroup.com/talent-shortage-explorer/#.WO0JeWnyt9M 6. http://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resources/publications/2017-middle-skills-fact-sheets/file/United-States-MiddleSkills.pdf 7. http://burning-glass.com/wp-content/uploads/BRIDGE_THE_GAP_REBUILDING_AMERICAS_MIDDLE_SKILLS.pdf 8. https://www.whirlwindsteel.com/blog/bid/406699/5-ways-the-construction-industry-has-changed-in-20-years
The labor market has changed and Americans need new skills and pathways to opportunity in the digital economy.This hearing will explore how America builds an economy that generates better jobs for workers and promotes small business growth. Democratic Caucus Members include: Nancy Pelosi (D- CA), Minority Leader Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chairman Linda T. Sanchez (D- CA), Vice Chair Witnesses: Zoë Baird, CEO and President, Markle Foundation Brad Markell, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO Aneesh Chopra, President, NavHealth, and Founder, Hunch Analytics Jared Bernstein, Senior Advisor, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Todd Tucker, Fellow, Roosevelt Institute Read Testimony On April 4, 2017, Zoë Baird testified before The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies about training workers for today’s jobs. In her testimony she called for new systems to support Americans through the transition to a digital economy. Learn more here.
Beth Cobert is the Chief Executive Officer of Skillful, a Markle Foundation initiative to create a skills-based labor market that empowers all Americans to succeed in the digital economy. Cobert is leading Skillful’s efforts to convene employers, educators, workforce centers, state government, and others to help job seekers and workers keep pace with the transformations automation and technology are bringing to the workforce landscape. Her deep experience in talent management and partnership development, as well as her acumen for harnessing the constructive potential of new technologies, uniquely positions her as an ideal leader for Skillful as the initiative seeks to foster skills-based hiring, training, and education practices through innovative cross-sector collaboration in the digital economy. Previously, Cobert served as Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) under President Obama. During her tenure, the OPM not only embraced new technology to improve customer service and cyber security but also championed recruiting, development and advancement practices to support a talented and diverse federal workforce amidst rapid technological advancement. She came to OPM from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where she served as the Deputy Director for Management and the U.S. Chief Performance Officer starting in October 2013. At OMB, she led the efforts to drive the President’s Management Agenda to make government more effective and efficient so it can deliver better, faster, and smarter services to citizens and businesses. Her leadership within an administration navigating ever accelerating technological change daily informs her work at Skillful, which engages both policy makers and business leaders on digital economy workforce issues. Before joining the Federal government, Cobert worked for nearly 30 years at McKinsey & Company as a Senior Partner in their New York and San Francisco offices, where she worked with clients across a range of sectors, including financial services, health care, real estate, telecommunications, and philanthropy. She also championed the advancement of women into leadership positions and was one of the first to pursue a part-time program and be elected Senior Partner while working part-time. This breadth of experience across the private sector affords her the big picture insights essential for catalyzing system-level change. Cobert is currently a member of the Board of Directors of CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG) and the Princeton University Board of Trustees. She has served as both board member and board chair of the United Way of the Bay Area, and as a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council. Cobert received a bachelor’s degree in economics with high honors from Princeton University and an MBA from Stanford University with honors. She and her husband have two children and currently reside in Denver, CO.
New York – Markle Foundation CEO and President Zoë Baird today announced the appointment of Beth Cobert, former Acting Director of the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and a long-time leader at McKinsey & Company, as Chief Executive Officer of Skillful. Cobert will lead the Foundation’s work to enable all Americans to keep up with the transformations automation is bringing to jobs in the digital economy. Her appointment follows a nation-wide search for a strategic leader to oversee Skillful’s state-based efforts to create a labor market that values each individual’s skillset and provides them with opportunity for a meaningful career path. “Beth is an extraordinary leader for our effort to enable anyone with a smart phone to have a smart career,” said Markle CEO and President Zoë Baird. “Beth has a proven track record, both in the public and private sectors, managing large, complex, and transformational initiatives. She knows how to bring together diverse stakeholders to create systemic change. She offers unparalleled business acumen, and expertise in recruitment, hiring practices and information technology. I am delighted Beth has agreed to join us to take on this critical challenge of our time.” Skillful, now in its second year of operation in Colorado, is a central part of Markle’s economic work to connect American workers to good paying middle-skill jobs. Skillful is particularly focused on empowering the nearly seven out of ten Americans who don’t have a four-year college degree but have great skills needed in today’s job market. There are millions of available jobs across America going unfilled, many of which call for skills that can be demonstrated or developed through apprenticeships, coding camps, and online training courses. Along with partners Markle, LinkedIn, the state of Colorado, and many others, Skillful is giving Americans access to opportunity by prioritizing skills and removing barriers that keep many talented people from applying for in-demand jobs. It is leveraging data and technology tools to ensure workers can find training and support to prepare them for the growth jobs in their community; supporting employers in implementing skills-based hiring practices that can open up their talent pool ; and aligning employers and educators so that training programs teach to the skills that are in demand. “In an economy where automation, artificial intelligence, and other technological developments are transforming jobs at an incredibly rapid pace, we need new pathways to opportunity and we need them now,” said Beth Cobert. “Too many Americans have been shut out as traditional categories of employment and ways of getting training have evolved. I cannot think of a more pressing challenge than helping Americans acquire the skills they need to compete in today’s workplace. I look forward to building on the impressive work already undertaken by the Markle Foundation and the Skillful team.” Cobert will work with senior Markle leadership, including Skillful’s Colorado Executive Director Andi Rugg, to lead the effort to help many more job seekers and employers in the state, as well as to expand Skillful beyond Colorado. She will develop and manage new locations that adopt the Skillful model and identify the infrastructure needed to achieve sustainability. Cobert also will work closely with Denis McDonough, President Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff who joined Markle in February to pursue the federal and state policy changes required to enable workers and employers to thrive in the digital economy. Beth’s private sector business expertise, particularly in the technology sector, will be an asset to Skillful as the team works closely with employers in Colorado and beyond to adopt skills-based hiring practices that take advantage of our nation’s best asset: our skilled and talented workforce. Cobert has extensive experience in workforce issues. As Acting Director of OPM she oversaw efforts to recruit and retain a talented and diverse federal workforce. She was brought into OPM to respond to a major cyber intrusion that compromised the personal information of more than 20 million people. Prior to OPM, she served as Deputy Director for Management and U.S. Chief Performance Officer in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). At OMB, she led efforts to modernize IT systems, improve public-facing services, strengthen cybersecurity across federal systems, and improve employee engagement. Her distinguished public sector career followed nearly thirty years at McKinsey & Company where she led the firm’s Global Marketing and Sales practice and served as a co-leader of the Global Social Sector practice. Cobert managed organizational strategies for corporate, not-for-profit and government entities across a range of sectors including financial, health care, real estate and philanthropy. Over the course of her career at McKinsey she led initiatives on staff recruitment, training and development and championed efforts to support the advancement of women into leadership positions. Cobert previously served as a board member and chair of the United Way of the San Francisco Bay Area and as a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University and a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University. Media contact Lisa MacSpadden or Chris Valens at 212-713-7632 or [email protected] About MarkleThe Markle Foundation works to realize the potential of information technology as a breakthrough tool for some of the nation’s most challenging problems. It leads a broad collaboration to Rework America to create good jobs and prepare people for today’s rapidly changing digital economy. Markle’s Skillful initiative is returning economic opportunities to Americans without a college diploma. For more information, visit markle.org, Skillful.com and follow @MarkleFdn and @JoinSkillful on Twitter.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies convened a hearing “Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs.” Subcommittee Members include: Tom Cole (R-OK), Chairman Steve Womack (R- AR), Vice Chair Rosa DeLauro (D- CT), Ranking Member Witnesses: Zoë Baird CEO and President, Markle Foundation Douglas J. Besharov Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy; Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale Institute Fellow, Urban Institute Read Testimony
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