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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

There are always lists of the latest "hot skills' in demand. But even the most sought-after skills need to be accompanied by soft skills in order to be desireable. Soft skills give job seekers the competitive edge needed to land a job. It's not just nuts-and-bolts training; you could be a UI designer or senior software engineer, and still be turned down if you're not the right culture fit. Here, we examine what it takes beyond knowing "your stuff' and what employers say set candidates apart.
High school equivalency exams are designed for individuals 16 years of age and older who are not in school and no longer eligible to attend high school. These tests give youth and adults the opportunity to demonstrate they possess a level of knowledge and skills equivalent to what is required to earn a high school diploma. If a student passes the test, they earn a state-issued high school equivalency credential, which is necessary to qualify for an increasing majority of jobs in the United States and a prerequisite for enrolling in postsecondary training and education.
The Leisure and Hospitality industry, as a whole, is expected add over 900 million jobs by 20241. Guest Service Agents are the lifeblood this industry, consisting of customer facing positions such as Front Desk Associate, Concierge, and Guest Service Specialist. These positions are at locations such as, but not limited to, hotels, resorts, casinos, and cruise lines.
You've most likely heard of food deserts, a term describing the systematic structural inequality of access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods across low-income and communities of color. These inequalities also stem across access to housing, healthcare and transportation.  A report from the American Council on Education's Center for Policy and Research Strategy has proposed a new term to describe a similar situation involving educational equity and opportunity. Education deserts convey how similar lines have been drawn for educational access based on geography. The report emphasises that place matters greatly when considering going to college, especially for nontraditional students.
Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of offering training and development programs for their employees. In 2014, businesses spent an average of $1,229 per employee on training and development initiatives, according to the Association for Talent Development's latest annual State of the Industry report.1 Employees received an average of 32.4 hours of training, while employees in organizations recognized by ATD as demonstrating the most enterprise-wide success received 43.9 hours of training. Bersin by Deloitte principal Josh Bersin also notes that high-performing companies spend more per employee on training.2
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With a growing elderly population, driven by the aging baby-boomer generation, jobs in the healthcare industry are poised to explode in the next decade. One of the fastest growing occupations within the industry, as well as in the United States as a whole, is Home Health Aid, which is expected to grow by an astounding 38% by 20241. This equates to over 325,000 jobs and will bring the total number of Home Health Aides in the United States to over 1.2 million by 2024.
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.
Digital badges are a simple way to improve student motivation. They are particularly useful for students with a specific career path in mind, because they can show future employers that a candidate has the skills necessary to succeed. The badges represent not just skills but interests and achievements that students have accomplished through their studies.
By 2020, two out of every three American jobs will require some postsecondary education.1 At the current rate, the United States will have five million jobs for workers with postsecondary credentials and training with no workers to fill those jobs.1 Last week, I wrote about why this is an issue for the American economy and why there is bi-partisan support, at both the state and federal levels, for legislation encouraging colleges and universities to adopt Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Strategies, also referred to as Credit for Prior Learning. 
Employer spending on learning and development soared in 2015, swelling 14.2 percent to $70.6 billion, Training magazine reported.1 Employers value employee development because they see its return on investment. HR Magazine found that employers who invest $1,500 or more per employee annually see 24 percent higher profit margin on average than companies who spend less on training.2 In addition to this direct financial return, learning and development programs offer other benefits that indirectly boost revenue, including increased employee self-esteem, greater employee self-direction, better morale and a stronger brand culture.

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