At least 43 percent of Americans report that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, someone in their household has lost a job, income, or both. Those most affected are also the most economically at-risk. Ninety eight percent of jobs seriously impacted by COVID-19 paid less than the national median living wage.
Many of these people were economically vulnerable well before the pandemic. According to Brookings Institution research, 36 million Americans could lose their jobs in the future as a result of automation and other technological changes. These individuals will need access to broad and varied educational pathways to help them find a way forward in a constantly changing world.
That’s why the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) joined the SkillUp Coalition, which provides resources that allow individuals to access affordable, short-term, skill-based programs. This includes tuition assistance and job-placement support. SkillUp seeks to increase access to postsecondary education opportunities by helping workers select and prepare for career paths in sectors that are expected to grow significantly, including health care, technology, and business. To help workers navigate the financial and emotional challenges that can prevent them from completing their training and finding work, the SkillUp experience also includes connections to personalized coaching.
On February 18, SkillUp launched a $30 million fund to provide grants to tens of thousands of displaced workers. Grants through the SkillUp Together Fund will help cover training costs and connect individuals to career support services and upskilling programs in in-demand fields. The grants are designed to provide resources to those who earn less than the annual median wage and have not attained a bachelor’s degree. SkillUp will continue to use its innovative platform to help workers better understand their aptitudes and skills, and match workers with individualized career pathways to help them reach the next step on their professional journey.
The Charles Koch Foundation will provide $1 million to help launch the SkillUp Together Fund. CKF also has provided $1.8 million for the SkillUp Coalition to expand its capabilities.
“The SkillUp Together Fund is helping to put America’s displaced workers back to work with new skills and a better career pathways,” said Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers. “These dynamic pathways aren’t just essential as we recover from a pandemic, but for all learners who want to discover, develop, and apply their aptitudes to reach their potential.”
Read the results of a recent poll sponsored by CKF and the SkillUp Coalition that examines American workers’ openness to alternative pathways for training and education.
The Charles Koch Foundation partners with social entrepreneurs to drive societal progress through academic research and innovations that help all learners realize their potential. Read more about the Foundation’s support for education.