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CAEL Pathways Blog

Building an Educated and Highly Capable Workforce with Bridging The Talent Gap

Bridgett Strickler is the co-creator of Bridging The Talent Gap (BTTG), which, much like Adult Learner 360, taps the power of parallel surveys to provide inclusive insight. Today, she is vice president of strategic partnerships at CAEL. In the Q&A below, she breaks down the benefits of BTTG and explains how it is a big reason why the TGN@CAEL partnership has created so much powerful potential.

As a co-creator of Bridging The Talent Gap (BTTG), what excites you most about its potential at CAEL? 

In the ever-evolving landscape of adult education and workforce development, the 2023 partnership between CAEL and The Graduate! Network (TGN) stands as a beacon of excitement and promise. As we dive into the transformative potential of TGN@CAEL in 2024, we're not just embracing a collaboration; we're championing a movement that addresses the needs of over 115 million U.S. adults seeking educational and career opportunities. At the heart of my excitement lies the nationally proven talent development strategy, Bridging the Talent Gap (BTTG). This groundbreaking model is tailor made for local employers and their communities, spanning cities, rural areas, and statewide regions. BTTG not only provides insights and support for industry-driven education programs, it also contributes significantly to the vibrancy and economic health of communities nationwide. Most importantly, it gives employees more equitable opportunities through learning and development.

Can you elaborate on the key features and impact of Bridging the Talent Gap (BTTG) as a nationally proven talent alignment strategy, and how does it contribute to the vibrancy and economic health of communities nationwide?

BTTG campaigns kick off with two insightful surveys, one targeting employers and the other engaging employees from a select subset of employers eager to boost education and upskilling opportunities for their workforce. These surveys, deployed through a comprehensive portal, allow for nuanced comparisons on a national scale, benchmarking factors like industry sector, employer size, and more. 

The employer-focused survey digs deep into workforce dynamics, exploring skill perceptions, projected education needs, and avenues for enhancing education benefits programs. Additionally, it identifies high-impact partnerships with regional training providers that can effectively address talent development needs, creating a roadmap for strategic collaborations.

On the other side, the employee-centric survey delves into workers' educational aspirations, career goals, perceptions, and suggestions for improving education benefits programs. This invaluable data not only provides insights for employers but also highlights opportunities to upskill workers, particularly in hard-to-fill positions creating dynamic career pathways for workers.

In what ways do BTTG campaigns, particularly the employer and employee surveys, provide nuanced insights into workforce dynamics, skill perceptions, education needs, and opportunities for enhancing education benefits programs? How does this data contribute to the model's success?

The beauty of BTTG lies in its implementation strategy. Centered on collaboration with regional economic developers, workforce leaders, training providers, and postsecondary institutions, this model engages employers, deploys surveys, and designs systemic interventions that transform individual futures. BTTG is adaptable and adds significant value when part of a broader talent development initiative, providing actionable intelligence to inform the next steps for enhancing workforce initiatives.

The BTTG survey data areas are meticulously designed to address critical aspects of workforce development, including:

  • Mitigating skill shortages across sectors by identifying gaps that need urgent attention.
  • Best practices for talent acquisition, retention, and development that create a supportive culture for employee growth.
  • Opportunities for education partnerships that foster collaboration among employers, educational institutions, and other training providers.

The surveys are efficient, taking just 15 minutes for employers and 10 minutes for employees to complete. The responses, carefully analyzed and reported in aggregate, ensure confidentiality while allowing for benchmarking against industry standards. 

Could you discuss the collaborative approach of BTTG's implementation strategy, including its engagement with regional economic development and workforce leaders? How does BTTG add value as part of a broader talent development initiative, and what role does it play in informing actionable intelligence for workforce initiatives?

BTTG doesn't just stop at data collection; it propels forward-reaching goals through collaborative efforts with regional stakeholders like:

  • Industry partnership conveners: Many prominent organizations can sponsor BTTG programs at a broad level.
  • Practitioners supporting a skilled workforce: A convening tool to engage employers and illuminate best practices that drive mutual success.
  • Elected officials and civic leaders: Access to practical intelligence for sustainable economic gains.
  • Employers and HR professionals: Informed data for talent development solutions and education partnerships.
  • Educators and trainers: Clarity on hiring practices and post-completion outcomes for program refinement.
  • Funders: Deeper insights into high-impact investment options for more equitable outcomes.

As BTTG grows at CAEL, I eagerly anticipate the positive ripple effects it will have on education, career pathways, and economic mobility. BTTG doesn't just gather data;  it empowers change and drives a collective vision for a more inclusive and vibrant future.

For more information about Bridging The Talent Gap, please contact Bridgett Strickler at bstrickler@cael.org.

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