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The Penn Foster Blog

Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

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.
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
Above all else, Penn Foster is dedicated to creating positive outcomes for our students. Earning their diploma, getting that promotion, continuing onto higher education - these are all outcomes we strive to help our student obtain. Through the dedication and hard work from our partners, Penn Foster has achieved a historic level of success with more than 44,000 high school, career school and college graduates in 2016. Of those graduates who were employed and responded to an outcomes survey, 78% cited a positive change in their job status. Significantly, post-graduate surveys show Penn Foster graduates are more confident than ever, and are finding jobs in high-demand fields, including allied health, skilled trades, hospitality and early childhood education, as a result of their level of preparedness.
Almost every organization struggles with skills gaps, in one form or another. A skill gap is a gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do when they walk into work.1 In the manufacturing industry, 82% of executives report skills deficiencies in production roles have a significant impact on their ability to meet customer demand.2 In the service industry, soft skills like "customer service" and "problem-solving" are of the highest importance, yet 89% of executives in a Wall Street Journal survey reported having a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes.3 For employers facing skills shortages, the impact can result in decreased productivity and efficiency, missed opportunities, and higher expenses.
As the year draws to a close, we took a look back to review which topics garnered the most interest on Penn Foster Partners this year. In 2016, our readers were eager to learn how to build bridges to connect with millennials in the workplace and how to best serve nontraditional learners. Notable themes included retention of students and employees, innovative education solutions, and how to connect with nontraditional students. The biggest take home point is that it's critically important to connect with the students and employees you aim to serve in order to understand what their needs are. Thank you for your readership in 2016, and without further ado, here are the top 10 blog posts from this year!
As the year draws to a close, we like to take the time to celebrate all we've been able to accomplish this year through the hard work and support from our partners. Together this year, we've made a tremendous impact on the lives of our 44,000 graduates! Our partnerships with employers, career colleges, youth and for-purpose organizations, Workforce Investment Boards, and school districts have all played a critical role in shaping the futures of so many deserving individuals.
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.
As election post-mortems continue, a growing confidence-in-the future gap has driven a tidal wave of engagement as both sides of the aisle grapple with the growing populist anger. This gap in confidence in our nation's powerful institutions presents us with a challenge as well as an opportunity. As a leading skills organization focused on building competencies, career pathways and employment matching for today's evolving workforce, Penn Foster has a role to play in helping Americans build stronger futures. We're all anxious to build a nation where we can life each other up, and we believe education is the cornerstone sector to start:

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