SAN FRANCISCO — July 9, 2020 — American workers who have been laid off or furloughed in the wake of COVID-19 have a new resource to access training and employment opportunities, thanks to an ambitious initiative launched today by a collaborative team of training and education providers, employers, technology companies, job readiness nonprofits, and philanthropies. The nonprofit SkillUp Coalition will provide displaced frontline workers with opportunities to build new skills that help them secure in-demand jobs with promising career paths. The Coalition will also enable partners to share best practices, collaborate on shared challenges, and participate in public engagement campaigns that help COVID-affected workers launch a prosperous new stage in their careers. By leveraging existing technology and its network of Coalition members, including core operating partners Guild Education, JFF, Opportunity@Work, and Strada Education Network, SkillUp’s platform is ready for frontline workers to begin using, starting here.

According to a recent McKinsey report, up to one-third of U.S. jobs may be vulnerable as a result of COVID-19, and more than eighty percent of those are held by low-income workers. Designed to address the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable communities in the American workforce, the SkillUp Coalition will leverage partners’ strengths to provide new pathways to career opportunities for the more than 40 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in the last several months. SkillUp focuses on supporting displaced workers earning less than $40,000 a year, a population that is disproportionately people of color, women, and individuals who have not earned a four-year college degree.

“With unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression, frontline workers are trying to reorient themselves in the face of an uncertain future, and America needs an upskilling solution that meets the urgency and scale that this crisis demands,” said Josh Jarrett, Executive Chairman of the SkillUp Coalition. “In launching the SkillUp Coalition, we’re prepared to provide this solution by bringing together the best in training and education, employment, technology, and the nonprofit sector to re-skill and re-employ frontline workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The SkillUp Coalition’s training and education partners providing upskilling opportunities to workers include Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), University of Denver, eCornell, edX, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), Brandman University, Wilmington University, Penn Foster, Coursera, SV Academy, General Assembly, Climb Hire, Year Up, Merit America, Per Scholas, and Pathstream. Technology companies include Guild Education, which is contributing its outplacement tech platform, Next Chapter, as well as OnwardUS, pymetrics, and Arena. Employer partners include Next Chapter employers and others that are committed to upskilling and hiring in fast-growing sectors like healthcare, technology, and business, including Walmart, Gainsight, Paschall Truck Lines, TTEC, CoolSys, and Unity Technologies. The Coalition also consists of job readiness nonprofits and advocacy groups to support some of the most vulnerable populations impacted by this pandemic, including Opportunity@Work, JFF, Strada Education Network, and The Project on Workforce at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center. The SkillUp Coalition will also collaborate with the Education Quality Outcomes Standards board (EQOS) to ensure high-quality programming for all workers. Philanthropic partners of the Coalition include the Charles Koch Foundation, Strada Education Network, and others.

SkillUp helps frontline workers select and prepare for career paths that align with the economy of the future. The Coalition’s initial target sectors include healthcare, technology, and business, with plans to expand into other fast-growing sectors as the needs of employers continue to evolve. SkillUp uses a three-phase approach:

  • Career navigation: Provide frontline workers with access to tools and coaching resources to guide them in choosing a career path aligned with rapidly changing labor market needs.
  • Training programs: Support learners in finding programs that match their career goals and provide financial support to cover tuition costs.
  • Job opportunities: Identify opportunities that match workers’ career aspirations and ensure they’re prepared to land a role.

Additionally, to help workers navigate the financial and emotional challenges that can prevent them from completing their training and finding work, the SkillUp experience includes connections to financial supports and coaching resources.

If you’re a training provider, employer, technology & service provider, or nonprofit interested in joining the Coalition, please visit skillup.org/partners.

Additional Quotes from SkillUp Coalition Members:

Guild Education: “The need for urgent and scalable upskilling solutions available to workers at businesses of all sizes is critical,” said Paul Freedman, President of the Learning Marketplace at Guild Education. “Guild is honored to join the SkillUp Coalition through our Next Chapter platform and to be able to support even more Americans looking to re-skill in order to land higher-paying, in-demand jobs.”

JFF: “JFF is pleased to be a founding member of the SkillUp Coalition to immediately address the critical needs of displaced frontline workers,” said Maria Flynn, President and CEO of JFF. “During this time of extreme economic hardship, we must come together and take swift action to address the crises facing workers today and re-envision our workforce systems to be more equitable and better prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow. This coalition will provide a comprehensive and accessible way forward for workers ready to re-enter the workforce and pave the way for longer systemic change.”

Opportunity@Work: “At this pivotal moment for our country, we have the rare opportunity to create a more inclusive and equitable economy for all workers, including the 71 million who don’t have a college degree but are Skilled Through Alternative Routes – or STARs,” said Byron Auguste, CEO & Co-Founder of Opportunity@Work. “STARs show up every day to work, learn, and contribute in essential ways, and it’s time for our institutions to show up for them. We are thrilled to partner with SkillUp to open doors to higher-skilled jobs for STARs and other displaced workers by contributing our assets, such as Opportunity@Work’s talent marketplace platform.”

Charles Koch Foundation: “In unprecedented times, the SkillUp Coalition is working to connect millions of Americans to new jobs and upskilling opportunities right now,” said Ryan Stowers, Executive Director of the Charles Koch Foundation. “This innovative platform empowers individuals to discover their aptitudes and develop their skills leading to jobs that are in demand. We’re proud to be a member of this coalition helping people reach their full potential.”

Walmart: “As the skills gap continues to widen and our nation faces distressing levels of unemployment, Walmart remains committed to providing access to reskilling and training,” said Drew Holler, Senior Vice President of People at Walmart. “We’re pleased to join the SkillUp Coalition to help provide opportunities for displaced workers across the country.”

Gainsight: “We recently surveyed executives from the leading SaaS companies and found that 87.5% plan to keep or grow their Customer Success teams during these challenging times, demonstrating the importance of retention,” said Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight. “A number of people are still currently out of work, particularly in the hospitality industry. Coincidentally, many of the most successful Customer Success Managers we work with have a background in hospitality. The Gainsight team wants to support those most affected by providing training and education in Customer Success and access to more job opportunities.”

Arena: “We are thrilled to contribute to an initiative that shares our vision for creating affordable and effective career pathways for people,” said Michael Rosenbaum, Founder & CEO of Arena. “For too long we have all struggled with informational asymmetry: we the job-seekers do not know which careers best suit us or which industries will carry us forward into the future, and we the employers do not know which job candidates will perform best in roles specific to our locations, departments, shifts. We now have the data analysis to help people on both sides of this transaction succeed, and this coalition has the resources and full spectrum of support systems to make it happen at scale.”

Year Up: “Our country is at a pivotal inflection point in the pursuit of economic, social, and racial justice. By partnering together with some of the most forward-thinking and successful non-profits in education and workforce development, Year Up hopes to serve Opportunity Talent across the country who deserve access to careers but have not had pathways to them,” said Gerald Chertavian, CEO & Founder of Year Up. “Millions of the people who have been displaced from jobs due to COVID-19 have not been provided access to the opportunity to hone their skills and develop new ones that would grant access to more stable careers in the American economy. We believe this coalition will help to close this significant part of the Opportunity Divide and are grateful to be a part of it.”

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU): “At SNHU, we know that we will all need to work together to help our fellow Americans gain the future-proof skills they need to thrive in an increasingly complex workforce and society,” said Paul LeBlanc, President and CEO of SNHU. “We’re proud to be working with this new Coalition to lend our support and offer SNHU’s workforce-relevant programs to the nation’s furloughed and unemployed workers.”

eCornell: “We’re proud to partner with SkillUp to offer displaced workers the opportunity to reskill through dozens of high quality professional certificate programs developed by Cornell faculty,” said Paul Krause, Vice Provost for External Education at Cornell University and Executive Director of eCornell. “In this challenging time, it’s more critical than ever to equip America’s workforce to meet the demands of today’s changing roles and rapidly evolving labor market.”

edX: “edX is thrilled to be part of the SkillUp initiative,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO & Founder edX. “As the country faces an economic downturn, we are committed to working with SkillUp to provide an opportunity for people to re-enter the workforce as quickly as possible and with a stronger skill set than before. We believe that online learning has the potential to truly change the game when it comes to getting back to work as it unlocks new and bigger opportunities. Developing programs and credentials that help people quickly, flexibly and affordably gain the knowledge and skills they need to advance their careers is in our DNA. We are honored to work with SkillUp to bring these offerings to those that need them most.”

Brandman University: “Brandman University exists to help adult students achieve their professional goals,” said Gary Brahm, Chancellor of Brandman University. “Now that the coronavirus is causing a historically large number of Americans to endure the unforeseen difficulties of lost jobs and underemployment, we’re excited to join with our SkillUp Coalition partners to help students complete certificates in either human resources or business intelligence and data analytics. These programs will help students qualify for rewarding jobs, and have the added advantage of including coursework that can be applied to degrees down the road.”

Penn Foster: “Workers with some training beyond high school, but not a college degree, are the largest sector of the American workforce—but many are also the most at-risk during times of economic turmoil,” said Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster. “The SkillUp Coalition is about recognizing the potential of the country’s middle-skill workforce to close skill and equity gaps, by providing training and support that respond to both the demands of the labor market and the needs of working learners.”

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC): “It is more critical now than ever that we take steps to reshape credentials to align with workforce education needs and remodel four-year degrees to provide vital employee education,” said Javier Miyares, President of University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). “As national and global economies recover, employers must prioritize reskilling, upskilling, and retraining their current workforce–and higher education will play a pivotal role. We at UMGC are proud to be a part of the SkillUp Coalition and continue our commitment to serving the needs of the students and employers who will form the backbone of the 21st-century economy.”

About the SkillUp Coalition
SkillUp, a promising new 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition, is helping the more than 40 million workers impacted by COVID-19 get rehired for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. The Coalition also enables partners to share best practices, collaborate on shared challenges, and participate in public engagement campaigns that help COVID-affected workers begin a prosperous new stage in their careers. Consisting of leading training and education providers, employers, technology companies, job readiness nonprofits, and philanthropies, SkillUp provides career navigation, training programs, and job opportunities to help frontline workers secure their place in the economy of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.skillup.org.

About Guild Education
Guild Education is on a mission to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education, with a double bottom-line business model that does well by doing good. Guild partners with leading employers and organizations to help offer education and upskilling opportunities to America’s workforce. Built by Guild Education, Next Chapter is a technology platform that enables displaced workers who have recently filed for unemployment to identify new roles with employers and sectors that are hiring as a result of increased demand. The core of the platform is a collaboration between employers adversely impacted by the crisis and healthcare, supply chain, and tech employers that are hiring. Next Chapter employer partners include Walmart, CoolSys, TTEC, Gainsight, Paschall Truck Lines and Unity Technologies; and the training and reskilling programs are provided by academic partners in Guild’s diverse network of universities and learning providers, including Southern New Hampshire University, Penn Foster, Brandman University and more. To learn more about Guild Education and Next Chapter, visit www.guildeducation.com.

About JFF
JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For more than 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. Join us as we build a future that works. www.jff.org.

About Opportunity@Work
Opportunity@Work is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase career opportunities for the more than 71 million adults in the U.S. who do not have a four-year college degree but are Skilled Through Alternative Routes – or, “STARs.” We serve STARs through a suite of products, tools, and solutions that increase STARs visibility in the labor market and enable more employers to find, vet and hire more STARs. We empower the diverse ecosystem supporting STARs in a movement uniting employers, educators, workforce leaders, philanthropists, and advocates.

About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a pioneering social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. We believe real impact comes from informing, engaging and empowering learners and leaders alike. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to create a new learning ecosystem that better serves the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.

About Charles Koch Foundation
Inspired by a recognition that free people are capable of extraordinary things, the Charles Koch Foundation supports research, educational programs, and dialogue to advance an understanding of how people can best live together in peace and prosperity and challenge convention. The Charles Koch Foundation provides grants to support a wide range of inquiry on issues including postsecondary education, criminal justice and policing reform, free speech and open inquiry, foreign policy, economic opportunity, and innovation. To learn more visit charleskochfoundation.org.

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