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The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

  ·   By Jessica Cardott
The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

(Main photo: Skills Summit’s Indiana Delegation with Sen. Todd Young)

This year’s Skills Summit, NSC’s big tent convening, took place February 5-7 with nearly 350 stakeholders from 36 states. Attendees were invited to reflect on the policy successes of the past year and visualize the future of America’s workforce.

What we’ve achieved, what remains to be done

Attendees prepared for advocating on Capitol Hill with two days of rigorous policy deep dives into the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda. The agenda was developed by the Coalition in late 2016 to provide a strategic skills policy roadmap for the incoming administration. Our last year of advocacy has made significant impact, with 8 of the 12 legislative proposals of the Skills For Good Jobs Agenda being currently introduced in Congress, with one of those key policies – the JOBS Act – receiving vocal support from the administration as well.  With bipartisan support on the majority of these bills, the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda is well positioned to shape our nation’s skills policies.

Members of Congress show their support

Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR) discussing the PARTNERS Act (HR 4115)

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1st) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3rd) took the stage together on the second day to share why they came to be bipartisan co-sponsors of the PARTNERS Act. Both legislators shared their personal commitment to the work and reflected on how support for industry partnerships works as a bipartisan effort.

Sen. Hassan at the Expanding Postsecondary Pathways for Working Adults Hill Briefing

Timing was everything at the Skills Summit this year. Sen. Hassan (D-NH) announced the introduction of the Gateway to Careers Act in the company of Summit attendees during the Skills Summit Hill briefing on expanding postsecondary career pathways for working adults. The House of Representatives version of the BUILDS Act was introduced by Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI-10th) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) during the Summit as well.

Looking into the future

The content of the Skills Summit offered practical and actionable strategies to move policy on Capitol Hill, but also left room for thinking about the United States’ workforce development path more broadly.  NSC Chief Executive Officer Andy Van Kleunen facilitated a plenary on the future of work with leaders in the field including Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff for the Obama Administration, Portia Wu, the Director of Workforce Policy at Microsoft, Scott Paul, the President of Alliance for American Manufacturing, and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development for California’s Community Colleges.


Video of the Future of Work plenary can be found here.

Attendees concluded the Skills Summit by bringing their local stories to Capitol Hill. Altogether, Summit-goers logged over 200 individual meetings with legislative offices.  In the history of the coalition’s advocacy, we’ve never gone to the hill with a more cohesive menu of actionable ideas, incorporating post-secondary education, industry partnerships, data transparency, immigration and welfare supports into our strategic recommendations. In today’s divisive political climate, the bipartisan nature of the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda offers a clear path to growing the economy by investing in people, so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

Champions and sponsors

NSC recognized coalition members whose talent and dedication allow us to move the needle on skills policy:

  • Our Skills Champion award for outstanding federal advocacy went to Pat Steele of Central Works Iowa.
  • The Power NAP-per award for outstanding contribution to an NSC National Advisory Panel (NAP) was given to Mark Kessenich of WRTP/BIG STEP, Wisconsin.
  • Our Road Warriors award for tireless advocacy in the face of a commute to DC was given to WES Global Talent Bridge in New York.
  • Kwee Lan Teo of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas was given the Taking Care of Business award for mobilizing the business voice to advocate for skills policy.
  • The Partners in Crime award was given to National Council for Workforce Education for their inspired collaboration with NSC throughout 2017.

NSC would like to thank this year’s Skills Summit sponsors, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Siemens Foundation and Walmart.  Without their support, this event would not be possible.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Tax Policies, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning, Workforce Data Quality Campaign