HR Policy Association Companies Highlighted in New Resource on UpSkilling


Two years ago, HR Policy Association and the Aspen Institute partnered on an initiative, allowing me the opportunity to serve as Director of UpSkill America, a part of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute while continuing as Senior Advisor to the Association.  At UpSkill America, we focus on recognizing employers who invest in the skills of their frontline workers and promoting the adoption of policies and practices that increase economic opportunity.  In these two years, the UpSkill America movement has grown from the original 150 employers who attended the White House Upskilling Summit to a network of nearly 5,000 businesses and organizations interested in the education, training and development of frontline workers so they can gain the skills they need to advance in the workplace.

During this time, I've had the opportunity to observe a wide variety of programs including:

  • Gap's This Way Ahead Internship program which helps inexperienced jobseekers prepare to exceed in the workplace thanks to help from experienced workers;

  • Hilton's Apprenticeship Program which lets new employees gain work experience in each of the hotel's fields of operation before choosing a focus area where they receive additional training;

  • McDonald's Archways to Opportunities program which helps employees complete high school, improve their English language skills and even earn a college degree; and

  • ManpowerGroup's My Path College Degree Program which helps associates benefit from Manpower's knowledge of employer hiring needs and proprietary assessments while choosing a career path and earning a college degree.

We've also learned a great deal about the return some companies receive on their investments in education benefit programs thanks to tremendous series of studies done by Accenture and Lumina Foundation.  One study, for example, showed that Cigna received a 129 percent ROI from their investments in their employees' education.  Additional findings showed Cigna’s entry-level and mid-management employees who participated in the program received 43 percent more incremental wage increases, 10 percent more promotions, 7.5 percent more lateral transfers and 8 percent more retention.

This week, UpSkill America released its UpSkilling Playbook for Employers, an online actionable resource to help employers understand why they should be investing in the skills of their frontline workers, some of the more creative upskilling programs at companies (including many HR Policy Association members), and tips for implementing successful upskilling programs.

The playbook, paid for by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, includes:
  • Five Reasons You Should Care About Upskilling
  • Models of Upskilling
  • Upskilling Done Right
  • Is Upskilling Right for Your Company?
  • Choosing the Right Program for Your Needs
  • Planning for Success
  • Maintaining Success (In partnership with ATD)
  • Additional Resources

The UpSkilling Playbook for Employers is now available.  I encourage you to check it out and share it with your team to see how other companies are investing in the skills of their workers and benefiting from these investments to improve their recruiting and retention.  In this tight labor market, it is important to know how investing in your workers can also help boost your bottom line.

And, while many of the examples given are from HR Policy Association member companies, we know it only represents a small number of noteworthy programs you offer your employees.  Those of you who are willing to share information on your upskilling education, training and development programs should complete the online form so we can begin the process of adding your program to the Playbook.  The more we can all learn from each other, the more effective these programs can be for your workers and your company.