Digital inequity disproportionately impacts the Black community and people of color. We stand together against structural racism.

Employer Network

Employer Network Advancing Digital Skills & Equity

Upskill America at the Aspen Institute, together with Digital US, is bringing together a network of leading companies who all share a common passion, prioritization, and commitment to action around ensuring workers, learners, and community members have the digital skills and digital access necessary to work and thrive in a post-COVID digital economy. This network will focus on building real solutions and deploying knowledge and resources urgently needed to advance the digital resiliency of learner-workers across the nation.

Focused Action

In 2021, the Employer Network Advancing Skills & Equity will:

  • Serve as a peer-to-peer community of company leaders championing the priority, visibility, and action around digital skills for learner-workers across the country
  • Capture the voice of employers around needs, gaps, role of digital skills within and across the broader workforce in areas such as:
    • importance placed on digital skills across different communities
    • importance placed on digital skills in their own company
    • how digital skills are defined and what specific skills are most in demand
    • investment priorities in building digital skills (both in communities and in their workforce)
    • metrics used to measure proficiency and progress in digital skill
    • how digital skills are used in the hiring and decision making processes
  • Increase the proportion of employers who recognize digital skills in their hiring process and decision-making
  • Elevate the visibility of employer value and engagement related to digital inclusion and digital resilience for all Americans
  • Unpack the tools and resources currently available such that employers can better utilize what is currently in the market
  • Educate and inspire more employers to invest in digital skills, resilience, and equity
  • Develop and deploy a set of shared resources for companies to utilize internally and across communities in which they work

Why Digital Skills Matter

UpSkill America is currently conducting a study for Walmart.org and Strada Education Network, to identify how the pandemic and heightened attention on racial inequalities have influenced companies’ skill needs, hiring practices, diversity, equity and inclusion practices, education and training programs, and worker supports. Through the first phase of the research, digital skills have been identified as one of the areas of greatest concern to employers. Reasons for this include:

  • Digital skills are essential in almost every job and are viewed as a requirement for career advancement and mobility
  • Gaps in access to technology and digital skills exacerbate existing disparities, disproportionately impacting people of color
  • The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital skills as more workers have been forced to work from home, and many companies plan to remain working remotely for the foreseeable future
  • Companies continue to innovate and deploy technologies within the workplace to meet production demands, keep workers safe, and advance their customer’s desire for electronic ordering and touchless customer service
  • The core belief that all workers should be equipped to thrive in a digital economy and that digital skills, digital inclusion, and digital access will unlock opportunity and provide greater access to jobs

Get Involved

UpSkill America and Digital US are recruiting approximately 15 – 20 companies to serve as founding members of the network. Participating companies will be asked to:

  • Participate in monthly virtual ideation sessions to set and advance an action agenda
  • Learn from other employers in a peer-to-peer learning network
  • Provide input towards ongoing research efforts such as interviews or surveys
  • Contribute to the development and potential resourcing of tools and resources
  • Contribute to a set of shared definitions and frameworks
  • Help build a shared repository of high-quality tools and resources
  • Pilot the use of tools and resources (as needed)
  • Deploy strategies and distribute information internally and to peer organizations outside the network
  • Explore opportunities for collaboration with the broader Digital US coalition, and in multi-employer partnerships in communities where there are common needs.

About Digital US and Upskill America

Digital US is an ambitious, national coalition of over 25 organizations representing employers, educators, workforce development professionals, policymakers, technology developers, and philanthropists. Digital US partners coalesced in 2019 with a shared mission to ensure that all of US have the technology skills — and digital resilience — to thrive in work and life by 2030.

Upskill America at the Aspen Institute, a member of the Digital US Coalition, is an employer-led movement that promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and attain better-paying jobs. On behalf of Digital US, Upskill America is advancing an employer-driven agenda to: increase engagement of employers in the work of Digital US; create a shared infrastructure, resources, and tools for employers to utilize in implementing their own digital skills agendas; capture, shape, and amplify a central voice on behalf of employers related to the value of digital skills focusing on equitable hiring, career mobility, and career resilience.

For more information about the Employer Network, contact Jaime Fall at Jaime_Fall@aspeninstitute.org.

We wish to thank Wiley, a Digital US partner, for their financial support of the Employer Network Advancing Digital Skills and Equity.