Employer investment in workers pays off for everyone

A conversation with Jaime Fall, executive director, UpSkill America

All this month, we’re taking a deep dive into the findings in our WorkingNation American Workers Survey. In this Work in Progress podcast, we look at the role businesses play in upskilling the workforce with the skills needed for a good job or career. My guest is Jaime Fall, executive director of UpSkill America, which describes itself as “an employer-led movement to expand opportunity for America’s workers.”

According to Fall, the movement promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs.

I share with Fall this survey finding: 66% of the workers we talked to said they had never been offered skills training by their employers. He says he is not certain if that number correlates with the actual number of businesses offering training, but “it doesn’t matter. If that’s what people perceive to be the case, then that’s what it is. And we really do believe that there needs to be a lot more of this happening.”

He says that UpSkill America believes that when employers invest in the skills of their workers that they will have a better-prepared workforce. “Employers need to really understand the value to the individual, to their company, and to their communities in investing in workers and really giving them opportunities to advance,” adds Fall.

UpSkill America’s Mission

UpSkill America began in 2015. The Great Recession was over, but the recovery was not equally spread through the economy. “There were so many people who were not experiencing the recovery. Things were fine for a lot of executives and others within companies, but the frontline and entry-level workers, they weren’t seeing wage gains and they weren’t seeing job creation and they weren’t really having opportunities to advance,” explains Fall.

He says, in many cases, companies had cut their training and education budgets severely after recession. At first, a network of organizations helped bring employers to the table and commit to understand the importance of investing in workers.

“Since that time, we’ve begun working directly with employers. Typically, we work with large national employers, employers that can have a big impact in the workplace. They can affect a lot of workers and also their brand recognition can help get the attention of a lot of other companies and get them to participate in the initiatives. What we do is work with employers to really create, expand, or improve programs.”

Fall and I also talk about some of what he’s hearing from business leaders about the impact of COVID-19 on the current workforce needs and skills demand. A lot of the discussion is centered around UpSkill America’s latest report released just yesterday.

Of course, I encourage you to learn more about the report from the podcast, which you can listen to here, or download and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Download the transcript for this Work in Progress podcast here.

Episode 163: Jaime Fall, Executive Director, UpSkill America
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan LynchMelissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts