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Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

More than you might think — and it can improve your bottom line

By Alison Schmitt and Laura Roberts

In this year like no other, people across American society have been questioning traditional power structures and reexamining who has solutions to some of our nation’s toughest problems. For corporate leaders, confronting a devastating pandemic and deep-rooted racial injustice, your usual M.O. is likely proving inadequate.

In the past, you’ve looked to the leader of your company — or, if you’re a CEO yourself, to your board or your peers on the Fortune 500 list — for wisdom to resolve knotty issues. …


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Workday’s Ingrid Franzen is sparking a hiring revolution for nontraditional talent.

Reading about the U.S. jobs outlook during the pandemic highlights an interesting dichotomy. There are a record number of Americans out of work (the unemployment rate was around 6.7 percent in December 2020), yet many industries and employers are facing labor shortages. How is this possible? How can a labor shortage exist when so many people are looking for work?

Employers often say they’re encountering a “skills gap” — they can’t find enough people with the right skills for open positions. The end result, they say, is that numerous jobs go unfilled even though they’re recruiting aggressively.

Workday, a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, thinks the real problem is an opportunity gap, not a skills shortage. …


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Learning and development leaders push the boundaries of technology to save time, money — and lives.

The pressure to find better, more efficient ways to train employees is nothing new. High-quality training experiences enable employees, and companies overall, to be more ambitious, innovative, and resilient. Those are important capabilities during boom times and economic downturns alike.

Fortunately, immersive learning tools are unlocking innovative ways to deliver training. These technologies have distinct advantages over traditional corporate training options. Among other things, they’re more cost-effective and they’re easier to scale — making them especially appealing to companies that need to train large numbers of frontline and entry-level workers.

ExxonMobil’s Athicha Dhanormchitphong and Kyle Daughtry understand the value of immersive learning better than most. Both Athicha, who goes by M, and Kyle were fundamental to the creation of the Immersive Technology Studio and played a pivotal role in exposing the Digital Garage operations at ExxonMobil’s headquarters in Houston. Due to their unique and complementary skill sets, interests, and responsibilities, Kyle and M continue to play integral roles in creating a vision for the Studio, setting strategy, and making product development plans. …


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Autodesk’s principal UX designer calls on Big Tech to challenge systemic barriers, starting with honest dialogue and equitable hiring.

The U.S. technology industry is well known for being monochromatic. Its workforce, particularly its technical talent, is made up of predominantly white men. And for an industry that prides itself on agility and constant innovation, change has been surprisingly difficult.

Industry leaders verbally affirm the well-established connection between diversity and product creativity, the lifeblood of technology. But they just haven’t been able to figure it out. Some argue that the fundamental issue is a “pipeline problem” — there aren’t enough women and people of color with the right tech credentials.

Omari Brandt, a principal UX designer for Autodesk, has a different answer. He thinks technology companies need to change the narrative by encouraging dialogue that moves beyond good intentions and ensures that new opportunities are created for all. And as a leader and technical expert at Autodesk, Brandt knows something about the issue. …


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By Shoshana Berger, Senior Director of Design for Learning at IDEO,
and David Soo, Chief of Staff at JFF

Back before COVID, conferences were unimaginable without bodies gathered in a physical space. But after seven months of social distancing, it’s hard to imagine clustering around a coffee station, much less — gasp! — sharing an armrest with a stranger.

For organizers of big-tent events, the planning pivot was radical: How do you reproduce not only the programming, but all of the unplanned moments of serendipity, networking, and connection? …


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By Michael Collins, VP, JFF

I have been watching America’s recent descent into crisis through two distinct but mutually reinforcing lenses. As an executive at a nonprofit leading the charge to transform education and training systems toward more equitable outcomes, I draw on my experience in public affairs and public policy to dispassionately analyze the implications of COVID-19 and systemic racism for learners and workers trying to advance in our economy.

My professional commitment to objective analysis notwithstanding, as a Black American I cannot avoid also diffracting the twin pandemic through a prism that is inescapably personal. I see people in my own life (including family members) — who can never be mere numbers to me — whose lives are deeply reflective of the data demonstrating the disproportionate impact of today’s public health crisis and economic implosion on Black people. The fact that the personal is political was forcefully driven home when my cerebral, Pokemon-loving, 9-year-old son recently asked me what age he will be when white people begin to consider him a threat. …


Aundrea Gregg, Organizational Development Consultant

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Despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for skilled IT talent has not diminished.

According to the July 2, 2020 Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 227,000 IT jobs were created in June 2020. The resilience of the IT job market during this period of unprecedented uncertainty underscores the importance of IT expertise to economic recovery and highlights the ongoing need for pathways that prepare people for in-demand IT positions. …


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COVID-19 Impact | Today’s rapid move to remote work and learning means skill assessments are more important than ever.

By Stephen Yadzinski, acting general manager, JFFLabs & Tyler Nakatsu, manager, JFF.

How do we develop a workforce with the skills we urgently need today?

The disruptive shift to the Future of Work has been accelerated by the COVID-19 Crisis. The scale of this change is massive, and at JFFLabs we are focused on opportunities to help people access high-quality careers that pay family-supporting wages. In order to achieve this, we must train a tremendous number of new workers over the coming years. …


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JFF and Penn Foster are teaming up to offer a unique educational platform that will remove barriers to upskilling, create new career prospects for low-skill individuals, and strengthen the corporate talent pipeline.

By Stephen Yadzinski, acting general manager, JFFLabs

Sequoia Ventress was a working mom making ends meet in retail when she took a chance on herself and her future by pursuing an opportunity to earn a high school diploma made possible by her employer, Walmart.

She earned her diploma through Penn Foster’s accredited online high school program while studying in Walmart’s Live Better U, an educational benefits program the retailer offers in partnership with Guild Education.

“I didn’t think that getting my high school diploma would show that fast in my career or financially.”

And she’s not alone. The effect of the skills gap that’s crippling the workforce in the United States is not missed on those who are stuck in the middle of it. …


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Above: Carrie Straub, executive director of education research & programs, Mursion

Startups and growth-stage companies are creating scalable solutions for corporate talent leaders to deliver on the double bottom line — positive returns for businesses and workers.

By Stephen Yadzinski, acting general manager, JFFLabs & Tyler Nakatsu, manager, JFF.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted traditional labor and education systems. While we are all still working to sort through all the ways in which this crisis will impact our lives, one thing’s for certain: Work and learning will be forever changed, and they both will remain more distributed and involve more online activity than they have in the past.

Now more than ever, we need easy-to-use and effective workforce and education technology. We need to prepare workers and learners for the jobs and careers of the future with immediately accessible upskilling, retooling, and talent platforms as the labor market and the economy spiral.

About

JFF

JFF (Jobs for the Future) is a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States.

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