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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

On March 20, 2019, yet another successful class of Penn Foster graduates walked the stage to receive their high school diplomas at Red Rock Job Corps in Lopez, PA. These students worked tirelessly over the course of several months to finally realize their goal and take a meaningful step toward creating better lives for themselves.
When great minds work together they can unravel even the most complex problems. At SXSWEDU, a panel of experts looked at ways to close the skills gap for millions of middle-skills workers and students. Panel members included Penn Foster graduate Markcus Perez, Christine Mikulski of Guild Education, an organization that partners with Penn Foster, Erica Pandey of Axios, and Ivy Love of New America.
The labor force participation rate might seem like one of those statistics that's more interesting to governments than it is to business leaders. However, in a tight labor market, with an unemployment rate of just 4%, employers should be concerned to learn that there are millions of potential employees in the prime of their working life who don't have a job and aren't looking for one. What's worse, a disproportionate number of these people are middle skills workers.
When engaged stakeholders gather to discuss the future of teaching and learning, Penn Foster is naturally right in the middle of things. We'll be sharing what we know, learning from other industry leaders, and contributing to two programs at this year's SXSW EDU conference in Austin, TX.
Detroit is a resilient city in the process of rebuilding a robust economic future. The path to great progress is only temporarily gated by the challenge that many workers face when seeking out the skills and education they need to thrive. Fortunately, some visionary companies have partnered with Penn Foster to create a path for these workers.
You've heard that the biggest enemies of the skilled worker in the last two decades have been automation and the constantly improving technologies that will make human work obsolete. If a machine can complete a task more efficiently at less cost, it makes sense to invest in cutting edge technology over upskilling workers. Conventional wisdom has us fearing a fully automated workforce because it means the eradication of middle-skilled jobs in almost every industry. Before completely investing in an automated future over developing workers' skills, consider this often overlooked, contrarian point of view: the impact of automation on the workforce will be incremental and, in fact, positive.
The retail sector is under siege. Ecommerce is invading the retail space and not even industry giants are immune to their attacks. Consider the fall of Sears and Toys R Us. While retailers can't prevent the rise of ecommerce, there is one threat they can control, employee churn.
Finding qualified workers is more challenging than ever. A low unemployment rate, the changing role of technology, and workers who are less willing to relocate all contribute to the problem. The challenge is so pervasive in such a wide range of industries across the country, that the Federal government has taken notice.
Addressing the skills gap is the responsibility of every business. No one is better positioned to understand the workforce development needs of a particular industry than the business leaders who work within it. By getting involved in the broader workforce development effort, you bolster the health of your industry as a whole and help close the gap.
Imagine it's the start of the new year and you're looking for ways to tighten up the budget and improve efficiency. You find yourself considering employee training. How can you make it worth the time and effort? How can you determine what you will get out of it?

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