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UpSkill America and Business Champions: Invest in the Front-line Workforce, Invest in Our Future

Last year the Obama Administration launched an UpSkill initiative to encourage employers and others to invest in the front-line workforce. On April 25th, the Lumina Foundation, Aspen’s UpSkill America and CAEL’s Business Champions hosted an interactive event with more than 200 attendees from across the country to come together to learn how organizations can focus on their front-line workers to get the most business impact. The event was hosted at the National Press Club.

Upskilling makes it easier for workers to advance their careers and helps employers address important challenges like skills gaps, retention, recruiting, engagement, productivity and more.

Companies shared their work in upskilling and advancing their frontline workforce over the past year. Several speakers are part of the Business Champions initiative, including Kimo Kippen, Chief Learning Officer and Global Brand Ambassador at Hilton, and Brian Poland, Director, Lifelong Learning and Talent Development, Walmart. They spoke on a panel — facilitated by Elliott Masie, chair of the Learning Consortium — with other business leaders who outlined their upskilling efforts and provided advice to others on how to implement upskilling practices at their own companies. Aaron Olson, Vice President and Global Head of Talent Management at Aon Corporation and also a Business Champions, presented Aon’s innovative apprenticeship program.

One of the highlights of the event was the ROI Study — Talent Investments Pay Off — which shows the return on investment from tuition benefits. Lumina Foundation partnered with Cigna to design the study which was conducted by Accenture. Cigna is also a member of Business Champions.

A lot of hard work was put in over the last year to advance the goal of upskilling. While there is still a lot of work to be done, this event was a good opportunity to celebrate the progress, learn from peers and increase the momentum and excitement around upskilling this often overlooked segment of the workforce.

We look forward to future events that help to spread the word and motivate more companies to invest in the education, training and credentialing of the front-line workforce.


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