6 States Awarded Grant Funding to Boost Workforce Participation, Economic Mobility

Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, North Dakota, Virginia and Washington to develop programs to promote skills-based training and hiring

WASHINGTON D.C.  Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, North Dakota, Virginia and Washington will receive grant funding to execute demonstration projects to implement and accelerate state skills-based practices, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Walmart announced today. The projects aim to help create new career pathways for unemployed and underemployed skilled workers.

“As businesses and consumers continue to feel the effects of labor shortages, Governors are finding innovative solutions,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center for Best Practices. “By bringing together the business, education and technology sectors, states can tackle the issue from all angles and help connect employers and jobseekers.”

“Traditional hiring processes too often exclude job candidates that have the skills and experiences needed to thrive in today’s economy,” stated Sean Murphy, director of opportunity, Walmart.org. “For employers, implementing skills-based training and hiring practices will open up talent pools, and for job seekers, these practices will increase job opportunities, which can lead to more career pathways. We’re excited to see what we learn from these six states’ demonstration projects.”

The funding is the next phase of NGA’s Skills-Driven Community of Practice – a program launched in April to support states in preparing their employers, education and workforce systems, data systems and policies to implement skills-driven practices – including digital wallet and Learning and Employment Record (LER) systems.

Skills-based approaches to hiring and recruiting can make pathways to good careers more broadly accessible to a wider segment of the workforce and reduce workforce inequities by focusing on what workers can do, not on the degrees or credentials they’ve earned.

Technology plays a key role in allowing employers to embrace skills-based practices by enabling the adoption of IT systems that support digital learning and employment records (LERs), which are essentially digital resumes with secure, verifiable, and readily accessible records of people’s skills, educational experiences and work histories. 

To receive the grants, states submitted proposals focused on skills-driven work – such as accelerating and expanding current initiatives, or laying the foundation for an LER ecosystem, including moving toward digital credentials and/or digital wallets. With the support of Walmart, NGA will also provide technical assistance throughout the project period, November 2022 -October 2023.