December 14, 2023 – Future of Work

SkillsFWD grantees will change how employers source, grow, and advance talent


Learning happens in the classroom and on the job, but also during certificate programs, skills bootcamps, and military service. More than 70 million Americans have taken advantage of these learning opportunities instead of pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

While these experiences are valuable, their benefits can be difficult to communicate to employers. 

A group of innovators powered by SkillsFWD is trying to solve that problem by expanding access to, and adoption of, learning and employment records (LERs). LERs are digital records of an individual’s formal and informal learning and employment history. They give employers the tools they need to implement a new culture focused on investing in a person’s demonstrated abilities and willingness to contribute to their workplace.

LERs recognize the value of each individual’s learning journey

SkillsFWD, whose mission is to create a more equitable skills-based hiring ecosystem, recently announced its first grants to scale use of LERs, which reward students for cultivating in-demand skills that reflect their unique abilities and willingness to contribute.

“LERs have the potential to transform the landscape of workforce and economic development, but there is still a gap between the existence of these records and their adoption and use by individuals and employers,” said SkillsFWD Director Dawn Karber. “By collaborating with diverse stakeholders to reshape the narrative around skills, SkillsFWD grantees will drive meaningful and measurable change to ensure that every individual’s unique learning journey is recognized and valued.”

The Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) provides support to SkillsFWD. Ascendium Education Group, Strada Education Foundation, and Walmart also support SkillsFWD and its grantees.

“LERs herald the value each person brings to the workforce and society,” said CKF Executive Director Ryan Stowers. “That recognition can change the lives of workers and will help companies identify committed individuals who want to contribute. We are excited to support SkillsFWD and these grantee innovators as they work to develop the tools employers need to change the way they source, grow, and advance talent.” 

Grantees building bottom-up solutions

Each SkillsFWD grantee will bring together a host of stakeholders, including employers, learners and workers, education and training providers, and policymakers to build upon existing tools and systems and demonstrate how to make LERs scalable. 

The grantees are:

  • Accelerate Montana’s Validated Skills, which will pilot statewide adoption of LERs among employers of all sizes in the construction trades and technology industries.
  • The Alabama Talent Triad, which will scale pathways from entry credentials to middle skills jobs across four industries.
  • The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio’s Central Ohio Talent Network, which leverages a work-based learning solution to power new modes of early career talent and employer matching.
  • The Colorado Workforce Development Council’s ColoradoFWD project, which will leverage LERs to efficiently match skills and talent to address direct care and behavioral healthcare talent shortages.
  • Arizona State University’s Student Worker Employment for Skills-Based Success project, which will empower students to gain meaningful student employment through a scalable LER-driven job marketplace.
  • The Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy’s Scaling the Skills-Based Workforce System, which will leverage LERs to bridge the skills gap, foster equitable and effective employment practices, and set a scalable model for nationwide, demand-driven workforce development.

Read SkillsFWD’s full announcement. Read more about SkillsFWD and the coalition of organizations that support it.