Building Career Pathways and Opportunities that Benefit Workers and Employers


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.

Published may. 07, 2020

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Middle-skill jobs–historically the on-ramp to the middle class–require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year higher education degree. Prior to the economic disablement brought on by COVID-19, middle-skill jobs accounted for 53 percent of the U.S. labor market, with only 43 percent of the nation’s workers trained at the middle-skill level–a crippling skills gap across industries such as health care, sales and service, communications, artificial intelligence, information technology, and the trades. Media coverage on higher education and career preparation primarily focuses on four-year college degrees even though non-traditional students make up nearly three-quarters of the higher education population.

As economists struggle to forecast how long economic recovery will take, and what the post-pandemic U.S. labor market will look like, critical questions remain. Why has trained talent been so hard to come by? Why have our current systems and conventions been failing both businesses and workers?

Until now, few stakeholders have actively joined together to address the need for an employer-led, skills-development system that provides career path acceleration as well as economic mobility.

The clearest approach to addressing this continued training gap in middle-skill careers is corporate inclusion and catalytic, collaborative alignment with businesses and corporations at the helm.

In a blog on Medium, Stephen Yadzinski, acting general manager of JFFLabs, shares how Penn Foster is working directly with employers to chart and create upskilling programs for employees, addressing that ever-widening gap in middle-skill careers. And, a partnership with JFF can maximize social impact by creating equitable and replicable corporate talent solutions designed specifically for the Fortune 500 sector.

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