Wayne Skipper, CEO of Concentric Sky: Future-Proofing with Digital Badges

As more and more people acquire skills and credentials outside of structured degree programs, employers are looking for credible ways to assess what potential employees have learned.  One increasingly popular and agile approach to meeting this need is digital badging, and in this episode of WorkforceRx you can learn all about it from one of the pioneers in the space, Wayne Skipper, the founder and CEO of Concentric Sky, makers of Badgr (http://www.badgr.com). Skipper likens digital badges to mini-transcripts with supporting evidence that is independently verifiable by third parties. “Digital badges allow institutions, which are now measuring student success through the lens of job placement, do a better job of helping employers understand what is meant by a credential and what proficiencies a learner who goes through their program can demonstrate.” As co-founder of the Open Skills Network, Skipper is also behind efforts to provide meaningful tools to reduce the bias that can result if only machine learning is involved in assessing proficiencies. Join host Van Ton-Quinlivan for this fascinating discussion about the potential threats and opportunities for educational institutions and employers as the shift to skills-based hiring continues to gain momentum. 

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Chad Evans, Council on Competitiveness: We Need a 10x Boost in Innovation

“We’ve got 200 million Americans who are not benefiting from what we think of as the most important engine of growth in our economy – innovation,” says Chad Evans, executive vice president and secretary to the board at The Council on Competitiveness. That reality helped spark creation of the Council’s National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers which has already developed 50 recommendations to put in place the talent, capital and infrastructure necessary to increase U.S. innovation capacity. Small steps are not in the mix. In fact, the Commission is calling for a 10x improvement in innovation leadership, the pace of innovation, and the number and diversity of Americans engaged in innovation, among other goals. Check out this expansive discussion with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan to learn how broadband access, AI, higher education and hiring practices fit into the strategy, and how the U.S. can better position itself as a global innovation leader.

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Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera: Remote Possibilities – Pandemic-Driven Explosion in Online Work and Learning

Presiding over an online platform with 82 million learners and hundreds of millions of course enrollments gives Jeff Maggioncalda a unique view of what’s happening around the world in higher education and training. What he’s seeing is growth and opportunity. The Coursera CEO says the number of people accessing its catalog of thousands of courses and certificate programs from top universities and corporations nearly doubled in the pandemic, with women driving up the numbers and consuming STEM content at an increasing rate. Coursera’s newly released Global Skills Report, based on data from 100 countries, shows the most sought-after skills are in business, technology and data. But the most important development coming out of this challenging year, he says, is that access to learning and jobs is becoming much less dependent on location. “We’ve seen that online learning allows anyone, anywhere to have access to high-quality learning. I think remote work, spurred on by the pandemic and digital jobs, will allow almost anyone, anywhere to have a range of job opportunities that they would never have had.” Maggioncalda is also encouraged by the growing power of certificate programs to unlock access to degrees and careers, and the creative institutional collaborations enabled by Coursera’s content and commitment to partnerships. You won’t want to miss this lively conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan packed with insights into the increasingly accessible, affordable and stackable world of upskilling and education.

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Byron Auguste, CEO of Opportunity@Work: Seeking Skilled Workers? Look to the STARs

Finding qualified workers has become a chronic and deeply concerning struggle for U.S. employers, but as our guest on this episode of WorkforceRx sees it, this is a self-inflicted problem. Byron Auguste, a PhD economist and former White House economic policy official, says the skilled workers are there but are routinely screened out of the applicant pool by hiring processes that only consider those with college degrees. “When you exclude people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you’re excluding almost 70 percent of African-Americans, 80 percent of Latino and Latina workers, and almost 80 percent of rural Americans of all races,” he says. That’s why the non-profit he co-founded and leads, Opportunity@Work, is asking employers to dip into the overlooked talent pool of the 70 million Americans who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs). “This is the golden age of new ways to learn new skills, and yet you have these very old, backward-looking bases for hiring. We need to have hiring catch up to learning.” Check out this compelling and thought-provoking conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan on transitioning from a pedigree-based to skills-based approach to hiring.

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Shalin Jyotishi, Senior Policy Analyst at New America: Aligning National R&D and Workforce Development

“I think we have a moment in this new decade we are in to start fresh when it comes to how we build our economies and build our communities and build our society,” says Shalin Jyotishi, senior policy analyst at New America. An important part of this fresh start is to further connect workforce development with the nation’s R&D and doing so beyond the nation’s tech corridors. Jyotishi says universities and community colleges have a role to play, but so do faith-based organizations, unions and state governments. A self-described public interest technologist, he counsels against being afraid of the rise in automation in favor of seeing people as the ultimate arbiters of how technology is applied. Join Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan for this insightful exploration of emerging ideas in education, training, tech and public policy that could reshape our economy and society for the better.

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Stuart Andreason, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: Bridging Research and Reality in the Job Market

As signs of economic recovery in the U.S. continue to build, some experts are predicting a “jobless recovery,” while others are more optimistic about job growth. Will hard hit sectors bounce back? What changes do we need in job training and education to spur a post-pandemic economy? For answers to these and related questions, Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan turns to Stuart Andreason on this episode of WorkforceRx. As director of the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Andreason tracks changes in the economy to determine what skills workers and businesses need to be successful. This research also informs policies and programs to help people succeed in the labor market, especially low-and moderate-income workers. “What we strive to be is a bridge between the research and the real world. We want to learn from what people are doing in workforce development and bring promising practices back to the research that we’re doing to hopefully learn from and maybe find ways to commit some support to those practices.” He and his Fed colleagues around the country have also developed tools to help people research job opportunities that do not require a degree and discover options for career mobility based on their skills. 

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Dr. Sunita Mutha, Director of Healthforce Center at UCSF: Bridging Cultural Gaps to Provide Better Care

Dr. Sunita Mutha thinks if health care providers consistently asked themselves one question, it would lead to reducing health disparities based on race, income and other factors: “Who does this advantage, and who does this disadvantage?” In her extensive research at the intersection of health disparities and quality improvement, she’s come to understand there are predictable things providers do that influence inequities in care. Looking at the current COVID vaccine rollout provides a fresh example. “If your main strategy is to reach out to patients electronically, it leaves out people who don’t have online access, who might be monolingual, who might be elderly and isolated. You could have predicted who you would leave out by the strategies you chose to use.” As director of Healthforce Center at the University of California San Francisco, Mutha works with organizations nationwide to reduce disparities and build a culturally-competent workforce, but also to address a wide range of other challenges in healthcare, from the impact of electronic health records to nurse staffing ratios. As she explains to Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan in this episode of WorkforceRx, training emerging leaders is another special focus at Healthforce Center. “They are the glue that keeps an organization functioning and effective. They mobilize the frontline teams. So, in our training we try to instill in them both confidence and skills so they can be really effective.” Check out this episode for an expert view of current and future workforce challenges in healthcare, and the role of research and capacity-building to meet them.

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Howard Brodsky, CEO of CCA Global Partners: Capitalism with a Heart

What if there was something business owners could do to boost employee retention 65%, increase worker loyalty and perfectly align company and employee goals? Oh, and by the way, give people a sense of hope and increase their wealth at the same time? Well, according to Howard Brodsky, that “something” is using a shared ownership model. Brodsky, a globally recognized pioneer in cooperatives, co-founded and leads CCA Global Partners, one of the largest retail companies in America serving over one million family businesses. The profitable $12 billion organization is the parent company for 14 other businesses in flooring, carpeting, lighting and other sectors, including child care. In this revealing conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton- Quinlivan, Brodsky describes creating a new economic environment where instead of subsidies to repair the damage caused by chronically low wages, there is shared ownership and prosperity. “I think there has to be more distribution of wealth at the base level, not distribution after somebody makes a fortune and they decide where they want to give money to. People need opportunity, not subsidies.” Brodsky says the model is much more resilient in tough economic times, too. With an estimated 25-30 percent of family businesses failing in the U.S. during the pandemic, the closure rate among CCA Global’s members is only 1- 2 percent. This is a conversation that will leave you thinking.

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Jamie Merisotis, CEO of Lumina Foundation: The Robot Zombie Apocalypse is Not Coming

“We know from history that technology both creates and destroys jobs, and we don’t know what will happen this time around,” says Jamie Merisotis, author of the new book Human Work in the Age of Machines, “but I do think we should be more interested in the work that humans can do, because that is clearly something we can control by better preparing people for that human work.” That preparation needs to focus on nurturing “foundational human capabilities” that set us apart from machines – compassion, empathy, ethics and creativity to name a few. As he reveals in his book, Merisotis believes the end result can be a collaborative relationship between workers and technology. As President and CEO of Lumina Foundation, Merisotis has been a driving force in increasing access to post-secondary education not only for its economic benefits but because of the role education plays in cultivating the critical thinking essential to a functioning democratic society. Check out this revealing conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan about rethinking how we can restructure education, work and benefits to better meet the challenges and opportunities upon us.

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Dr. Ashwini Davison, Director of Strategy and Transformation for the Informatics Education Program at Johns Hopkins University – Data’s Big Impact on Care and Careers

For someone interested in the interplay of technology and healthcare, the timing has always been right for Dr. Ashwini Davison. Implementation of Electronic Health Records was just starting to take off when she was an internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkins a little over a decade ago. As the adoption of EHRs and digital health applications rose, so did the potential for big data as a tool to advance medicine. Opportunities opened for her to help healthcare companies analyze data to enhance efficiency and improve patient outcomes. “My career naturally progressed to being at the cutting edge of the ‘next big thing’ whether that be clinical informatics or, subsequently, online education and precision medicine.” She’s now at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine and the School of Public Health creating learning programs and opportunities for students at the intersection of healthcare, technology, education and research. If you’ve wondered how AI, precision medicine, cloud computing and other innovations are impacting patients, you’ll want to check out this dynamic conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. You’ll also learn about a collaboration between Johns Hopkins, Futuro Health and Coursera to create a new entry level path into health IT careers, how virtual reality and mobile technology is applied to healthcare, and what she describes as the “challenging, exhilarating and rewarding” experience of helping professors and students successfully manage the abrupt transition to online learning made necessary by COVID.

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