Every Worker a Learner
As Baby Boomers begin to retire, they’re leaving well-paying positions that can only be filled by workers with similarly high levels of education. To fill these positions, employers often need to look outside their organizations to find candidates with the required skills and training. We help employers prepare their current employees to fill these positions by providing access to the education they need.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) helps employees return to school by assisting them to:

  • Choose the Right Career
  • Select the Right School
  • Spend Less Time and Money Earning a Degree or Credential


World Business ChicagoWorld Business ChicagoRead stories about programs CAEL has designed and implemented for employees.

FutureLink: A Pathway to Education Opportunities and Career Development


One of the biggest workplace issues facing companies is employee retention. Many workers are looking to move up the career ladder at their employer, but quite often, companies fail to provide the necessary resources to retain and develop large numbers of their workforce.

According to a survey by consulting firm Towers Watson, only one in four companies claim that their managers are effective in providing career management support to employees. More than half of all companies, in the same survey, also claimed to have failed to make effective use of technology to help employees navigate career management resources.


Verizon Communications has long understood the importance of helping employees maximize their talents and potential within the company, which, in turn, benefits companywide productivity and growth. One resource the company utilizes towards these goals is FutureLink, a workplace program that provides career advising services in the form of one-on-one sessions with counselors, webinars, and onsite workshops.

FutureLink also operates a virtual career center that gives Verizon workers access to information on career opportunities and strategies for professional development. Additionally, the program provides higher education and training services that workers can take advantage of to improve their skill set and marketability for future positions.

Case Study:

One worker who has been aided significantly by FutureLink is a 36-year-old named Hatim, who began the program with the goal of moving closer to a bachelor’s degree. Through workshops, one-on-one counseling, and group advising sessions, Hatim learned how to set an education pathway and personal action plan for himself that he could put to use towards college credentials.

Since participating in the program, Hatim has advanced through several internal positions– from a support specialist to a supervisor for directory assistance, and eventually made the transition from an associate to a manager with strong direction and training. Hatim is very active in urging fellow Verizon workers to make use of FutureLink, and has high praise for his own supervisor in the program:

"My advisor made all the difference for me. She helped me identify what I really wanted to do in the company and find a way to get there. I’m going to do all I can to make sure others know about and use this service."


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  • Verizon Communications
    Verizon Communications

    Verizon Communications Inc. is a Dow 30 telecommunications and broadband company employing a diverse workforce of more than 180,000 employees around the globe. Verizon operates America’s largest 4G LTE network, and also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries.

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WorkforceChicago: Providing Opportunities for Employee Growth

According to a survey by consulting firm Towers Watson, only 37% of employers said their employees understood how their workplaces could influence their career development. What’s more, employers cited the lack of career advancement opportunities as the number one reason they believe their employees would leave their current positions. Employees, in that same survey, cited lack of career advancement opportunities as the second-biggest reason why they would leave their jobs.


Multinational firm Aon and senior living company Vi are two employers leading the way in career advancement through educational and internal training opportunities. In December 2013, the companies were recognized for their efforts in the Chicago-area by WorkforceChicago – a CAEL-sponsored regional business coalition – with the Exemplary Practices in Employee Learning & Development Award for best representing its Nine Exemplary Practices philosophy. WorkforceChicago also presented Alex Xie, an actuarial associate with Aon, and Christine Bernal, Vi’s director of nursing, with its 2013 Exemplary Learner Award for being best examples of employees utilizing company-sponsored education and training resources to propel their professional development.

WorkforceChicago’s primary goals are to:
• Recognize, honor, and disseminate exemplary practices in employee learning and development.
• Build awareness and understanding of regional workforce development issues.
• Articulate priorities and effective learning and development models.
• Mobilize business leaders and other stakeholders committed to making change happen.
• Strengthen relationships between businesses, higher education, and the public sector.

"If Chicago builds a skilled and knowledgeable workforce, the businesses and jobs of the future will beat a path to our city.” – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel


December 16, 2013
Vi Case Study

December 16, 2013
Aon Case Study

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  • Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
    Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

    The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is a non-profit organization that oversees federal, public and private funding for workforce development programs aimed at assisting job-seekers, businesses, and like organizations throughout the Cook County region, including Chicago and over 200 municipalities.

  • Executive Learning Exchange
    Executive Learning Exchange

    The Executive Learning Exchange (ELE) is a consortium of senior Chicagoland, Central Illinois, Central Indiana, Milwaukee and Twin Cities learning leaders who are committed to promoting greater visibility, influence and professional opportunities among its members.

  • Human Resources Management Association of Chicago
    Human Resources Management Association of Chicago

    The Human Resources Management Association of Chicago is a forum for human resources leaders, practitioners, service providers and business executives charged with designing and delivering workforce strategies to drive superior business performance in the organizations they serve.

  • World Business Chicago
    World Business Chicago

    Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago (WBC) fosters private sector growth and jobs through the advancement of a business-friendly environment that attracts world class talent. WBC leads the city's business retention, attraction and expansion efforts, raises Chicago's position as a premier global business destination, and guides implementation of the Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs.

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Energy Industry Career Path - EPCE

The utilities industry serves as a major pillar for the operations other industries, providing workers with well-paying jobs that also offer ample opportunities for career advancement. With the development of advanced technologies in the industry, there is also a growing demand for more utility workers who are comfortable handling high-skilled responsibilities. This raises a couple of questions:

• How can the industry make job opportunities more visible to those interested in careers?
• How can the industry make resources accessible for those wanting to learn about the industry?

To address these issues, the Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE) – an initiative of CAEL – established an online career map for those interested in careers. Through the map, future employees can receive the following:

• Links to industry career positions, which lists job responsibilities based on experience level, range of salary and educational requirements. Positions include those in maintenance/repair, engineering, pipefitting/pipelaying, power plant operations, nuclear operations and line installment/maintenance.
• An interactive chart that diagrams how energy is generated, which also links to industry positions.
• Access to the websites of EPCE, which provide educational resources, and Get Into Energy, which provides videos, skills tests and online information resources for prospective workers.


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  • Center for Energy Workforce Development
    Center for Energy Workforce Development

    Formed in March 2006, the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) is a non-profit consortium of electric natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations - Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

  • Metro Denver WIRED
    Metro Denver WIRED

    The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC), an affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s first and only truly regional economic development entity in which many area economic development groups have joined together to represent, and further, the interests of an entire region. Our partners include 70 cities, counties, and economic development organizations in the seven-county Metro Denver and two-county Northern Colorado region.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center – Improving Retention and Mobility with Career Maps

As a world-renown medical institution, New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) has long benefitted from the tireless dedication of its staff to patient service. MSKCC’s employees are among the best in their field, making an invaluable contribution to the hospital’s high rankings by U.S. News & World Report as a premiere cancer center.

MSKCC is expanding, which heightens the need to retain staff, improve employee engagement and support informed conversations around mobility. At the same time, the hospital faced turnover in several worker populations and recognized that clearly revealing lines-of-site for career advancement options would improve incumbent engagement and help employees take control of their careers.

Like other forward-thinking employers, MSKCC is moving many of their employment resources online. Searching for workforce consultants with experience creating interactive talent development strategies, tools and resources, the hospital turned to CAEL for assistance.

CAEL worked with MSKCC to develop an online career map, the MSKCC Career Explorer, which helps employees identify new career options and opportunities. The tool encourages exploration, transparency and knowledge sharing, and helps employees who want clarity and specificity about what it takes to build their careers. CAEL’s role in the project was process coaching, content coaching, project management and leading technical development for the tool.

According to Shawn Hulsizer, CAEL’s Director of Strategic Customer Solutions who led this project, “Giving career pathing control to individual employees constitutes a big shift in process for most companies, but one that employees desire and expect today. This particular tool is focused on retention for specific populations. It helps people see what’s possible and begin charting their careers in directions they may never have considered. It is a useful way to engage incumbent workers, and helps broker informed conversations with management and human resource generalists about career options and required education and competence.”

The tool engages employees in a four-step user-friendly process:
Step 1: Employee selects his or her current job title from 70 options.
Step 2: Employee enters his or her skills, interests, education and experience.
Step 3: Roles that most closely match to the employee’s inputs are revealed along with career
pathway options to research and explore.
Step 4: Employee is then presented with options about how to follow up on positions of
interest. There is even an option to leverage social media to talk to someone in the role
to learn more.

MSKCC found the career explorer tool to be a valuable complement to other human resource and talent development strategies. The benefits of the Career Explorer Tool include:
• Staff retention
• Improved employee engagement
• Career awareness and exploration
• Informed career coaching conversations


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  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

    Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — the world's oldest and largest private cancer center — has devoted more than 125 years to exceptional patient care, innovative research, and outstanding educational programs.

Earning College Credit for Prior Learning

Most Americans do not go from high school to college and leave four years later with a degree. Life gets in the way. Some start college but never finish; others can never afford the time or money to even start. Still others simply weren't ready, or went into the military, or didn't know what to do. Years later, these people have a tremendous amount of life experience, but no degree to prove what they know to potential employers. These learners need to complete their degrees to be successful.

CAEL built LearningCounts.org, which provides:

Advice from a College Credit Specialist
Students talk about their background and interests, and together, determine the fastest and most affordable path to finish their degree.

Enroll in a Course
Our online portfolio courses help students learn how to demonstrate the college-level learning they acquired through work, volunteering or military service. We offer instructor-led and do-it-yourself courses.

Portfolio Development and Assessment
Using what they have learned in our courses, they create an online knowledge portfolio that matches their knowledge and experience to college-equivalent courses. Once they have completed their online portfolio, a member of our expert faculty assesses the portfolio and recommends it for college credit. Students can earn up to 12 undergraduate credit hours for each portfolio they submit.

Predict Potential to Earn College Credit
Students can also use the prior learning credit predictor for free to estimate how many college credits they may be able to earn.

Transfer Credit Recommendations
CAEL is now partnering with universities to directly award college credit based on its LearningCounts assessments of knowledge learned outside the classroom.

Alamo Colleges, Bellevue University, the Indiana Institute of Technology, the New England College of Business, North Iowa Area Community College, Roosevelt University and Southern New Hampshire University have already signed on to the new process, which will streamline the credit acceptance and reduce transcription costs for students.

An advisory group of Prior Learning Assessment theorists and practitioners from a wide variety of institutions helped launch LearningCounts.org. LearningCounts Partner colleges have made it a reality for their students and other learners.

“No one in the world of Prior Learning Assessment is more respected than CAEL and SNHU is happy to accept CAEL’s credit recommendations directly. They are the experts. They have unassailable integrity and an unmatched track record of almost 40 years in this area. They invented PLA.” - Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University

Jill's story about earning college credit for what she already knew

Jill Powell talks about LearningCounts.org


  • Houston Endowment
    Houston Endowment

    Houston Endowment supports nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that produce and maximize enduring benefits for the people of the greater Houston area.

  • Lumina Foundation
    Lumina Foundation

    Lumina Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in Indianapolis in August 2000. Lumina is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college. In fact, we are the nation’s largest foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students’ access to and success in postsecondary education. Our misison is defined by Goal 2025–to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
    Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
    A national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.

  • State Street Foundation
    State Street Foundation

    Established in 1977, the State Street Foundation is the charitable grantmaking arm of State Street Corporation.

  • The Kresge Foundation
    The Kresge Foundation

    The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation headquartered in Metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy.

  • The Brown Foundation, Inc.
    The Brown Foundation, Inc.

    The Brown Foundation, Inc. was founded in July 1951 by Herman and Margarett Root Brown and George R. and Alice Pratt Brown.

  • The Joyce Foundation
    The Joyce Foundation

    The Joyce Foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country.

  • LearningCounts.org

    CAEL's innovative higher education platform that rigorously assesses college-level learning acquired from outside the traditional classroom for potential college credit.

  • USA Funds
    USA Funds

    USA Funds® is a nonprofit corporation that works to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success by providing and supporting financial and other valued services.

  • Walmart Foundation
    Walmart Foundation

    The Walmart Foundation meets the needs of the underserved by directing charitable giving our core areas of focus: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women's Economic Empowerment and Career Opportunity.

Interactive Map Helps Health Information Management (HIM) Professionals Chart Their Path to Success

There are two undisputed facts about the HIM field. One, employment in the medical record and health information technology field is expected to increase 21 percent by 2020. And two, HIM is evolving at lightning speed.

That’s great news for people interested in seeking (or growing) their careers as HIM professionals. But until now, understanding career opportunities and making smart education choices aligned to moving an HIM career forward has been a bit of a mystery.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) came to CAEL for help creating an interactive and visual career development tool to represent the job titles and roles that make up the scope of the field and the promotional and transitional career paths associated with them.

As with all CAEL career mapping work, we began with a Discovery process to clarify and document desired goals and outcomes. We then conducted in-depth interviews to understand how/why AHIMA members would use the map. Thereafter, CAEL provided guidance around the architecture of the tool, type of information to include and best-practice validation processes to ensure information accuracy.

Feedback on the tool has been tremendous like this from, Lynne Thomas Gordon, AHIMA CEO - “The career map is a great resource tool that will help students, recent graduates and HIM professionals looking for new opportunities to plan a path to success. Not only is it a one-stop place to learn about HIM careers, it defines the profession like never before by showing where the field is now and where it is heading.”

According to Lisa Chernikoff, AHIMA Member Engagement and Communications Manager, “This tool is getting so many people interested in HIM who up until now were not aware of the field. And, AHIMA members are telling us that the tool is wonderful and something they didn’t even realize they needed. It really makes me excited to be a part of this field - which is exactly what the HIM Career Map® is supposed to do.“

Screen shot of HIM Career Map

Interactive map helps Health Information Management (HIM) professionals chart their personal path to success. www.HiCareers.com/CareerMap.


June 21, 2012
The Career Lattice

April 25, 2012
Grow Talent with Career Maps

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  • American Health Information Management Association
    American Health Information Management Association

    The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the premier association of health information management (HIM) professionals. Serving 52 affiliated component state associations and more than 64,000 members, it is recognized as the leading source of "HIM knowledge," a respected authority for rigorous professional certification, and one of the industry's most active and influential advocates in Congress.

STEM Careers through BioOhioWorkforce.org: Helping Ohioans Learn About, and Prepare for, Bioscience Careers

Ohio’s bioscience sector is poised to grow 20% over the next decade – that’s great news for Ohio. Bioscience jobs pay well and are nearly recession proof – that’s great incentive for Ohioans looking for work. However, Ohio bio employers are having difficulty attracting the volume of workers required to meet these growth projections. People simply don’t realize that there are great bioscience jobs for entry-level workers. And, many of the candidates who do apply don’t have the right skills and competencies they need to be successful.

Research and document 300+ bioscience job options available across Ohio’s bioscience sector, then validate with Ohio bioscience employers. Thereafter, build and socialize an online bioscience career exploration tool to:

  • showcase bioscience careers and jobs in a friendly and engaging way, and

  • highlight local bioscience education programs and tuition benefits that people can leverage to secure great bioscience jobs.

Feedback on the tool has been tremendous like this quote from N. Pietras, Executive Director for Northwest Ohio Tech Prep - “The website is awesome. It is impressive and useful for folks looking into bioscience to understand what it is, and how to get involved. Great work.”

Visit www.BioOhioWorkforce.org to view the website.

In March 2010, BioOhio, six Ohio-based community colleges, and CAEL were awarded $5M dollars to train 700 underemployed, dislocated and unemployed workers for entry level positions in bioscience careers. This group calls itself the Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership.

The grant was designed to pay for tuition, books and fees for qualified participants and give graduates of the program a hand in finding employment.

Screen Shot of BioOhioWorkforce.org

Visit BioOhioWorkforce.org


June 21, 2012
The Career Lattice

September 08, 2011
Grow Talent with Career Maps

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  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
    Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • Columbus State Community College
    Columbus State Community College

  • Cuyahoga Community College
    Cuyahoga Community College

  • Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership
    Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership

  • Owens Community College
    Owens Community College

  • Sinclair Community College - Workforce Development
    Sinclair Community College - Workforce Development

STEM Education through VIVIDFuture.org - Helping People Connect to Meaningful Telecom Careers

How does an industry fill its future worker pipeline and ensure its current workforce:
• has the right skills and competencies for a productive future,
• understands the opportunities available to them, and
• connects to the right education to best use tuition dollars?

Through its telecommunications industry coalition NACTEL, CAEL built VIVIDfuture.org to arm incumbent telecom workers and job seekers with useful industry information, telecom-specific education options, and tools to match and connect them to telecom job opportunities.

NACTEL (National Coalition of Telecommunications Education & Learning), CWA (Communications Workers of America), IBEW (International Brotherhoood of Electrical Workers), AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, Frontier Communications

“Our industry depends on highly skilled workers. And VIVIDFuture.org is a great training and educational resource for new telecom job-seekers as well as those wanting to grow within the industry.” - Randall Stephenson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T

Screen Shot of ViVIDFuture Website



  • NACTEL  (National Coalition of Telecommunications Education & Learning)
    NACTEL (National Coalition of Telecommunications Education & Learning)

    NACTEL is a unique partnership between major telecommunications companies and labor unions. NACTEL partners with higher-education to develop, sponsor, and promote online learning programs to help the telecommunications industry meet its workforce needs. Representing over one-million industry workers, NACTEL partners include AT&T, The Communications Workers of America (CWA), CenturyLink, Frontier Communications, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Qwest and Verizon. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) serves as fiscal agent and program manager for NACTEL.

Better Systems for Connecting STEM Training to Jobs


The energy industry is facing a retirement bubble, a shift to greater use of renewable energy sources, and sky-rocketing demand for power. These factors have created a demand for workers skilled in new energy technologies. Meanwhile, many workers and high school students are seeking stable employment.


  • Created new online curriculum for training current and future electric power industry workers that supports clean energy solutions and smart grid deployment

  • Trained more than 1,800 electric power industry workers across a wide range of job categories on alternative energy sources and the smart grid, operational considerations for the smart grid and/or on the impact (financial, security, etc) of the smart grid

  • Combined online instruction with company training, both classroom and apprenticeship training

  • Developed a replicable model partnership between Bismarck State College and the Connecticut Community College System to deliver a joint clean energy/smart grid-focused electric power technology certificate and degree program

  • Built a model move high school students directly from energy industry coursework into employment and/or into a postsecondary energy industry certificate or degree program


Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE), National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), American Public Power Association (APPA), Arizona Public Service (APS), ComEd (an Exelon company), JEA, Northeast Utilities, Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OGE), PJM Interconnection


EPCE Online Smart Grid Curriculum - Built by the Industry for the Industry

The Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE) partnered with Bismarck State College's National Energy Center of Excellence to offer an online smart grid curriculum built by the industry, for the industry.


  • EPCE (Energy Providers Coalition for Education)
    EPCE (Energy Providers Coalition for Education)

    The Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE) is a group of industry representatives that develops, sponsors, and promotes industry-driven, standardized, quality online learning programs to meet the workforce needs of the energy industry.

  • US Department of Labor
    US Department of Labor

    The United States Department of Labor fosters, promotes, and develops the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improves working conditions; advances opportunities for profitable employment; and assures work-related benefits and rights.