March 25, 2021 – Economic Progress

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation expands effort to reduce barriers between educators and employers


Despite the fact that the U.S. economy has shed millions of jobs over the last year, there are still nearly seven million opportunities for which employers struggle to find the right applicant. According to a recent SkillUp Coalition/Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) survey, more than half of Americans under age 40 believe they will need to acquire new skills to advance their careers.

We need to bridge the gap between education and employment so that more people can advance their careers and fill available jobs.

One reason for the large number of unfilled jobs is a misalignment between employers and educators: classroom-taught skills need to closely connect to what learners need for career opportunities. Businesses, educators, and trade associations must work together to identify the skills needed for available jobs and to create programs, platforms, and curricula that help people develop these skills.

In 2014, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Chamber Foundation) launched its Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM) project to match individuals with dynamic careers and help learners build new skills. The Chamber Foundation has steadily expanded TPM, including TPM Academy®, a curriculum that helps first-time, entry-level workers and current employees who want to upskill or advance in their careers.

So far TPM has reached thousands of employers across 37 states and Washington, D.C.

The Chamber Foundation is taking the next step in the evolution of its platform. Announced in March 2021, TPM Co/Lab will make the TPM program available to all companies, educators, and business-facing organizations that want to deepen existing partnerships between educators and employers and provide more varied, quality career pathways for learners and workers. Using the TPM Academy curriculum and accompanying resources, TPM Co/Lab will provide an interactive learning experience and offer a “community laboratory” for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration as learners apply their training and implement TPM in their communities.

Support from CKF, Walmart, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation made the expansion possible.

One example of TPM’s success is UpSkill Houston. Working with the Greater Houston Partnership, employers created collaboratives to identify unfilled jobs in critical industries and to improve access to education and training programs. There has been a 32 percent increase in enrollment in relevant community-college courses, and a 42 percent increase in completion rates for related degrees and technical programs. UpSkill Houston also developed a Women in Construction program that offers pipefitter training. With a graduation rate of 80 percent, program participants are working in the industry today.

“To help more individuals reach their full potential, we must remove the barriers that exist between the classroom and a career,” said CKF Executive Director Ryan Stowers “The Chamber Foundation brings employers and educators together to expand training options for learners. We are proud to support their work.”

Read more about TPM.

The Charles Koch Foundation supports organizations like SkillUpthe American Council on Education, the mikeroweWorks FoundationSkillsUSA, and the Cardinal Manufacturing program that work to create additional dynamic pathways for upskilling. Read more about the Foundation’s support for education.