Public-Private Partnership Launches New Career Readiness Learning Platform to Upskill Dallas Workforce

June 13, 2018

Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas selects skills training pioneer, Penn Foster, in ambitious effort to empower frontline workers; free training programs will address pressing skills-gaps in high-demand fields

Dallas (June 13, 2018) — Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas today announced a strategic partnership with Penn Foster designed to create new pathways from education to employment for entry- and mid-level employees across the greater Dallas region. The new platform, known as the Retail Skills Digital Academy, will offer skills training in fields like retail through the NRF Foundation — the philanthropic arm of the National Retail Federation — as well as soft skill and high school diploma programs to reduce barriers to career advancement. To improve accessibility for working adults, the program will be administered through a self-paced, mobile-friendly learning platform. At the same time, learners will be supported by state-of-the-art coaching and academic motivation and support services.

This new initiative is part of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas' Retail Pay$ program, funded by Walmart, designed to help entry-level workers navigate retail career pathways that lead to mid-level careers.

"For many working adults in the Dallas area, pursuing educational opportunities means a painful trade-off as they balance work, family, and other commitments in addition to their studies," said Laurie Larrea, President of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. "This partnership is about tapping the potential of technology to create a continuum of opportunities that will help workers advance in our region's increasingly dynamic economy."

The economy of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is booming, with one of the country's highest rates of job growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Texas continues to face gaps in its middle-skill workforce: nearly 6 in ten jobs in the state require more than a high school diploma and less than a college degree, but only 42 percent of Texans have been educated to the middle-skill level. Many are also employed but remain in poverty. 

"We know that there is labor market demand for skilled-workers in fields like retail, but pathways to opportunity are often closed-off by high school diploma requirements, and the sort of soft skills that signal workforce readiness to employers," said Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster. "We hope that this strategic partnership with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas will serve as a national blueprint for workforce engagement, and send a powerful signal about the potential for public-private partnerships that leverage technology to foster both economic growth — and mobility."

Founded in the 1890's as a correspondence school for coal miners, Penn Foster has become one of the leading global providers of skills development and training for today's dynamic world of work. Penn Foster is backed by Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact investing arm of Bain Capital.

About Penn Foster
Penn Foster is bridging the gap between education and economic opportunity to build tomorrow's workforce. For over 125 years, Penn Foster has helped individuals develop the skills they need to pursue purposeful, and productive careers through affordable diploma, certificate and degree programs. With more than 40,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster's digital and blended learning programs are delivered in a self-paced model along with personalized academic and career coaching.

About Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas 
Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas is the local organization mandated to implement a system of services that complement economic development - as a resource for employers to access the quality employees they need, and training individuals to be successfully employed. Workforce Solutions administers a broad range of programs to address local workforce issues with business-directed objectives, including job training, workplace education, child care and educational initiatives to provide the necessary support for every citizen of Greater Dallas to be successful at work.

Workforce Solutions is nationally recognized for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility by the US Chamber of Commerce. Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program.

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