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Daniel Dolph


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While the number of available jobs in the United States is growing, employers are struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of workers with the right skills. Overemphasis on the bachelor's degree as the gold standard postsecondary credential has led to an insufficient number of prospective employees with the appropriate skills. To close the skills gap, academic institutions offering short-term career diploma, certificate and degree programs need to take a new approach.
In today's competitive labor market, workforce training organizations face real challenges preparing their clients for careers in high-demand occupations. Job-seekers must not only have the skill to do a job, they also must possess a related industry-credential. For example, 11.5 of the 11.6 million jobs created since 2008 have gone to workers with some level of postsecondary education " this includes those who've taken postsecondary courses or completed a postsecondary diploma, certificate or degree program1.
At YouthBuild's 12th Annual Instructor Leadership Institute earlier this month, we announced YouthBuild graduates Kevin Wilson and Elijah Childs as the first recipients of the Dorothy Stoneman Scholarship. The scholarship fund, named in honor of YouthBuild Founder and long-time CEO, Dorothy Stoneman, who retired in January 2017, was created to help deserving YouthBuild and Penn Foster High School graduates continue their education in an associate or bachelor's degree program at Penn Foster College.
As the American economy has taken on a service-oriented identify over the last couple decades, the job market has become an ultra-competitive arena. Workers today are expected to possess a higher level of skill than at any time in history. Knowledge and skill have become priceless commodities businesses seek out and deploy to gain a competitive advantage. The companies with the most adept employees are the ones leading the way in their market.
In today's competitive job market it's nearly impossible to find a job without a postsecondary credential or degree. For example, there have been 11.6 million jobs created since the 2008 economic recession, and an overwhelming majority of these jobs " 11.5 million " have gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education.1
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.
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. 
The education bar is high and rapidly getting higher for Americans seeking jobs in today's demanding American labor market. The level of skill and number of credentials required to secure a good job in America is going up fast. Out of the 11.6 million jobs created since the 2008 recession, 11.5 million went to workers with at least some college education.1 By 2020, two out of every three American jobs will require some postsecondary education, and 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
Workforce Investment Boards play a critical role in America's workforce development system. Job seekers go to WIBs with varying work experience and education but with the common goal of obtaining relevant knowledge and skills to gain employment and contribute to the American economy. Workers learn in-demand skills, which improves the quality of the workforce and enables local businesses to succeed.
Penn Foster was recently asked to present at the NJCA's Professional Development Innovation Webinar Series. The webinar addressed the need for skilled candidates for today's job market, why it's important to offer post-secondary courses and create career pathways for Job Corps students in particular, and how individual Job Corps centers can offer programs for in-demand skilled trades on center.

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