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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the Markle Foundation, and 20 States Launch the Skillful State Network; Introduce Skillful State Playbook

Governors of 20 founding member states join together to share and accelerate workforce innovation.

Announcement marks national expansion of Skillful, an initiative to create a skills-based labor market that better serves all Americans in a rapidly changing economy.

DENVER and NEW YORK - February 15, 2018 - Today, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Zoë Baird, CEO and president of the Markle Foundation, and 19 of the nation’s governors announced the formation of the Skillful State Network, a collaboration to transform the U.S. labor market at scale to one that is skills-based, in which people can demonstrate or obtain the skills needed for good digital economy jobs. The Network marks the national expansion of Skillful, a Markle Foundation initiative incubated in Colorado, which leverages data and the very technologies that are disrupting the economy to achieve a skills-based labor market where employers are able to find the talent they need and individuals can continuously acquire new skills and keep up with the pace of change. Founding governors are committed to sharing what works and have made partnership and innovation in workforce development a state priority to enable their residents and local employers to thrive in the digital economy.

“As governors, we are joining together around a shared commitment to support a variety of career paths to good-paying jobs, and expand the talent pool for employers who need skilled workers to grow,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “We twenty governors, Republican and Democrat, are serious about transforming our labor markets in ways that will benefit our nation for decades to come. In a short time, Colorado’s partnership with Skillful has provided incredible value in supporting a skills-based, industry-driven talent marketplace.”

“Millions of Americans need to get connected to the skills and the jobs of our fast-changing digital economy,” said Baird. “The Skillful State Network was born out of the tremendous interest we’ve received from other states based on our work in Colorado. Governors have asked me to bring Skillful to their state and forming the Skillful State Network is a way to share our approach, tools and assets quickly. It also allows all of us to build on the great work being done in these states. States have always been laboratories for innovation and today are leading the transformation to the digital economy.”

The Skillful State Playbook, introduced today with the Network, lays out the steps needed to create a skills-based labor market. The Playbook offers tools and resources jointly developed by Skillful, the state of Colorado, and numerous employers, tech companies including Microsoft and LinkedIn, educators, and community organizations. The free and public availability of the Skillful State Playbook establishes a model for the open sharing of best practices. Skillful State Network members may tailor or improve tools in the Playbook and add their own tools and resources to the Network’s portfolio.

The Skillful State Network will support transformation at a scale and pace not possible through individual state actions. The Network will elevate and advance practices and ideas that states can adopt to achieve their workforce goals, including aligning education with industry; providing robust data to jobseekers; or training employers on skills-based practices. The Network is open to all interested states.

“In just our formative conversations, I am so inspired by the variety of programs as well as cutting-edge pilots each Skillful State Network member is bringing to the table,” said Beth Cobert, CEO of Skillful. “Each state is unique, yet shares a commitment to collaboration, experimentation, and progress.”

Skillful State Network members will have the opportunity to: • access the Skillful State Network portfolio of tools and data • learn how to implement the tools and assets featured in the Skillful State Playbook • share and learn from the unique insights drawn from each other’s efforts • foster innovative partnership opportunities • hone methods of engagement within their labor markets • receive advisory support from Skillful staff • gain access to Markle’s cross-sector network of national leaders and partners