Our nation's workforce development efforts, including initiatives by government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations, are at a pivotal moment of transition due to the realities of living in the globally connected Information Age. It's up to us to begin laying the groundwork now for a reimagined workforce development system.  Workforce development isn't exactly system, it's a collection of mostly independent organizations making well-meaning efforts to serve the workforce needs in their local communities.

While these efforts are laudable, they are highly fragmented and typically lack the dimension and scope needed to develop and leverage economies of scale. A lack of systematic coordination is truly detrimental to national upskilling efforts. Organizations dedicated to workforce development efforts are currently unable to tap into SAAS technology delivery models and cloud computing infrastructure that have allowed many industries and institutions to rethink what aspects of their business make sense to keep in-house, and what ones make more sense to outsource.

With an eye on these challenges, some companies in the private sector have demonstrated they have an important role to play in providing career pathway opportunities that provide economic mobility for those who want to work hard and commit to self-improvement. Many companies in the quick-serve restaurant and hospitality industries, for instance, have created standardized, industry-recognized training credentials.

Within these so-called front-line industries, high-profile brands are jumping at the opportunity to implement new tuition assistance and workforce training programs to attract and retain hourly employees. Some of these education initiatives offer low-skilled adult workers tuition assistance to enroll in high school and college, while others provide upskilling programs to allow hourly workers to develop specific job-focused skills.

The philanthropic world is also making a concerted effort to upskill the workforce. But due to disconnections across the national nonprofit landscape, like-minded organizations often reinvent the wheel and create one-off programs that also lack scalability.

The bottom line is, leading workforce development organizations, private sector companies and nonprofit organizations often recreate from scratch vital elements of the student learning lifecycle that already exist elsewhere at scale and at a low cost. These organizations could benefit from conducting a value chain analysis. Such an analysis would not only discern which elements of education and upskilling programs are best maintained locally, it would identify which elements could be improved by tapping into an On-Demand Individualized Skills Solution.

On-demand education and learning services for America's workforce development system could be the key to accelerating career pathway opportunities. Nonprofits, corporations and government organizations could partner with a such an entity to take advantage of efficiencies of scale, it's just a matter of mapping out what that system may look like.

For an in-depth look at how a national "on-demand" learning service provider could benefit your organization to power the 21st century workforce, read our new white paper: Creating an On-Demand Individualized Skills Solution.

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