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CAEL Pathways Blog

SkillsFWD Grant To Strengthen CAEL’s Regional Upskilling Alliance in Pittsburgh

Last summer, CAEL partnered with Pittsburgh ScholarHouse, the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, and Vibrant Pittsburgh to bolster its Regional Upskilling Alliance (RUA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Now, thanks to a grant from SkillsFWD, CAEL is further enhancing the Pittsburgh RUA, via an end-to-end learning and employment record (LER) infrastructure. LERs capture diverse forms of education and employment achievements, offering individuals a more equitable way to showcase their competencies and making it easier for employers to recognize them during the hiring process.

CAEL established the RUA to provide more education and training options to traditionally underserved populations in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Allegheny region. The RUA model emphasizes collaboration throughout the entirety of adult learners’ education-to-employment journeys to ensure they navigate education, training, and credentialing opportunities that lead to rewarding employment. Roughly 26% of the Pittsburgh MSA are considered ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, but Employed) residents, with an additional 14% living in poverty. Further, an initial scan done by CollegeApp of just Allegheny County (where Pittsburgh resides) revealed that there are over 100,000 individuals earning between $10,000 and $45,000 without a four-year degree who have a high intent to enroll in training/education programs. By building a framework that assists adult learners regardless of where they are along those journeys, the Pittsburgh RUA has the potential to improve the economic position of these workers.

As SkillsFWD noted in a press release announcing the grant, the Pittsburgh RUA brings strong cross-industry partnerships to the LER cause. Although many employers have announced a shift to skills-based hiring, few have made meaningful progress, it added. However, in what it terms a promising sign for the future, a recent survey showed that 91% of hiring managers using skills-based hiring report expanding their talent pool and 82% report that skills-based hiring surfaced more motivated candidates. SkillsFWD, launched in 2023, has awarded more than $8M to advance interoperable LER ecosystems.

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