- The National Skills Coalition has selected coalitions from ten states to join SkillSPAN, the Skills State Policy Advocacy Network, according to a Jan. 23 announcement.
- The move doubles the number of coalitions in the network, bringing the group to 20. SkillSPAN works "to promote policies that support all workers' career aspirations, boost local businesses, and help states build strong, inclusive economies." This year, the coalitions will bring about policies on issues such as apprenticeship, postsecondary education, upskilling and supportive services, the press release said.
- The 2020 SkillSPAN network comprises coalitions in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
The skills gap is vexing employers, as it adds another layer of difficulty to talent acquisition, which is already a challenge due to low unemployment rates and other factors. Given the magnitude of the skills gap problem, institutions including the government, businesses, schools and nonprofits are pushing to solve it.
On the federal level, perhaps the most direct move the Trump administration has made toward closing the skills gap is the "Pledge to America's Workers." The Pledge, launched July 2018, called for companies to agree to create training opportunities. Walmart was among the first to sign, pledging 1 million training opportunities. As of January, more than 14 million opportunities were pledged, according to the White House.
The Trump administration has also been active in apprenticeships, another common response to the skills gap. Most recently, it announced new details about a plan to expand apprenticeship programs, which would also establish a new approval process separate from the U.S. Department of Labor's standard registration of programs and apprentices.
Apprenticeships have brought employers and schools together for many initiatives. As they grow in popularity, apprenticeships have extended beyond trades, growing into white-collar industries. One Connecticut employer, The Hartford, worked with nearby community colleges to create an apprenticeship program to widen its talent pool and improve employee engagement.