- The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) — in partnership with Business Roundtable and the Greater Washington Partnership's Capital CoLAB — has received a $1 million grant to design partnerships that will increase reskilling and upskilling pathways for STEM professionals, the group said in an announcement.
- The grant from the National Science Foundation is part of the agency's Convergence Accelerator Project and will at first be a nine-month planning grant. After that, BHEF can request up to $5 million in additional funding to implement programs in 2020.
- The work will focus on increasing workers' digital skills by creating a model to bridge the gap between employers and higher education.
Both employees and employers know that workers will need upskilling to keep pace with the digital revolution. In fact, workers are more concerned about other people taking their jobs than they are robots, according to a university study. Perhaps with this in mind, some employees have said they're eager to participate in training.
But barriers remain: Many employers have said that just don't have the resources necessary. In addition, some workers have said they don't request learning out of fear of seeming incompetent. Unequal access to opportunity in the workforce development system can leave other groups behind, as well.
The answer to these barriers remains unclear, but experts generally agree that the solution lies in government-employer-educator partnerships. Collaborations of this kind are appearing around the country. Just last month, for example, the National Governors Association and Strada Education Network announced a partnership in six states. Similarly, Google and the National 4-H Council recently announced a $6 million grant to train young people in the computer sciences. The BHEF initiative promises to be another iteration of this idea, with stakeholders working to find the cure-all for the skills gap.