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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

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The need for increased investment in training and development has never been greater. That was the sentiment expressed by Penn Foster CEO Frank Britt in an interview with Ed Tech Times at last month's LearnLaunch conference. With an emphasis on "closing the skills gap," Britt explains that given high-growth occupation industries like hospitality and skilled trades, effective middle skilled workers are in increasingly high demand. However, many middle skilled workers do not have all of the skills they need to be the most effective. This lack of effective middle skilled workers has created this middle skills gap which hurts employers, businesses, and employees themselves.
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As we've seen time and again, front line supervisors have the potential to make a tremendous impact on the overall productivity and efficiency of a company's workforce, yet new hires often receive minimal training when transitioning into this new role. Indeed, 71% of front line supervisors receive infrequent or occasional training, according to a Harvard Business Schools Report.1 In a separate report form McKinsey, only 10% of executives only 10% of executives said that their front line manager training program is effective at preparing managers to lead.2 It should come as no surprise then, that 60% of front line supervisors underperform within their first two years.3
The demand for front line employees with well-developed soft skills has never been higher. While technical skills have been and will always remain important, soft skills are the crucial capabilities for employees working in any industry. From retail to manufacturing, strong soft skills has become the number one requirement for incoming or newly hired employees.1
The Future Skills Summit sponsored by the Institute for the Future was held on February 21-22nd this year to help education and workforce development innovators "get fit for what's next." The premise of this year's summit is the idea of a "work + learn future," to outmode our current "degree-before-work paradigm" which is not sufficiently serving the job market at large. One of the key contributors to the summit, and the overall theme of work and learn, is Innovate+Educate founder, Jamai Blivin.
For career and community colleges, email marketing can be a major pillar of your overall acquisition and nurturing strategy. You spend hours writing, designing, and developing your emails. But are they reaching your target prospects? These 5 tips will help to ensure that your emails are not being stopped by spam filters, but are landing in the inbox.
Mike Lewis, entrepreneur and author, recently collaborated with Penn Foster Education in an informative and motivational webinar titled "Make Your Jump." Lewis, a graduate of Dartmouth, left a prestigious job at a venture capital firm to pursue his passion-playing squash professionally. He teamed up with a panel of diverse Penn Foster students to share their stories and speak to the barriers that often hold them back from tackling their career goals. Though the insights gleaned from the conversation between Lewis and Penn Foster students Rocco, Brittney, and Kathy encourage other students and peers to make the jump toward the career they want, there are a few key takeaways that can inform the way employers approach career development for their employees. 
LearnLaunch recently held their 6th "Across Boundaries"  conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Originally held in a large lecture hall at MIT (I was there!), it has grown to 1100+ participants that draws interest on a national and even international scale (this year featured an "international pitch session" with EdTech start-ups from abroad participating). A wide variety of educators, education administrators, entrepreneurs, investor, education companies and technology innovators all come together due to the shared interest in driving innovation to transform learning and increase achievement using digital technologies.
In the retail industry, it can be difficult to find and retain reliable employees who have a developed set of soft skills. Whether hires simply don't work out or leave to look for different career opportunities, low retention rates make finding strong leaders you trust to run the day-to-day operations of your business nearly impossible. One solution to boost retention rates and prepare your employees to take on leadership roles is investing in comprehensive soft skills training. 
It's a scene that plays out on factory floors, in warehouses, and at work sites across the country: a talented worker is promoted to a supervisor position, but struggles to adapt to the new role & responsibilities. While they were skilled at their previous position - which is why they were identified for promotion in the first place - moving to a management role presents a slew of new challenges and requires these supervisors to develop a variety of new skills. Indeed, a recent study be BearingPoint, a consultancy, found that 60% of frontline supervisors underperformed in their first two years.1 Moreover, 81% of frontline supervisors themselves stated that they were not satisfied with their own performance.2
Penn Foster is thrilled to be attending and speaking at LearnLaunch Institute's 2018 Across Boundaries Conference next week (February 1-2) at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA. Last year's conference welcomed a record number of attendees, numbering over one thousand participants representing thirty-three states. As we near the sixth annual conference, we are looking forward to having the opportunity to meet with so many innovators in the edtech industry.

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