Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


January 21, 2020


Developing a 21st Century workforce is an all-hands-on-deck project. Business, education, and government all need to work together to ensure American workers are the best-skilled and most competitive in the world.

Led by Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump created the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in 2018 to help improve America’s workforce.

U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue was named to the board, which is composed of a diverse group of leaders from many sectors to develop ways to encourage the private sector and educational institutions to work together to shrink the workforce skills gap.

The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board was busy in 2019.

Interoperable learning records

One focus of the board is interoperable learning records (ILRs). The U.S. Chamber Foundation is taking the lead on this project.

Think of them as a modern transcript, only even more useful to job seekers and employers.

Using data and technology, an ILR seeks to capture all learning wherever it occurs, from the earliest stages of education through training at work, allowing an individual to own their record and be able to share it across employment, education, and training systems. The goal is to track what an individual knows and is able to do so that an employer can validate it.

Imagine having all your education and training records in an open-data standard easily accessible from your smartphone. Individuals could easily share ILRs with potential employers who then have verifiable information to quickly and easily screen job candidates. And for educators, ILRs allow them to issue simple, trusted, and portable credentials that reflect in-demand skills.

Things get really interesting when software developers build apps employing ILR data. Using their smartphone workers seeking new skills would be able to find the best pathways for improving their skills, discovering the resources available from educational institutions and training programs, their costs, their return on investment, and even being able to sign up for training without leaving the app.

It will make accessing skills-building as easy as online shopping.

The Foundation’s T3 Innovation Network with other partners developed interoperable data standards last year and will lead a pilot program testing ILRs in 2020. They will develop an ILR Resource Hub which will house resources on data standards, technical details, and guides for implementing ILRs.

Learn more at the T3 Innovation Network’s ILR Pilot Program web page.

Ad campaign

Another focus of the board is a branding challenge – specifically countering the false notion that if one doesn’t have a four-year degree only dead-end jobs are available.

In fact, there are an abundance of manufacturing, technical, health care, and service jobs that pay well that don’t require a college degree.

To counter the stigma the board agreed to work on an ad campaign to “rebrand existing pathways to careers other than the four-year college degrees” the IndyStar reports.

With the board’s breadth of experience, with members from business, education, and labor, it can develop a robust vision of what America’s future workforce looks like and how to get us there.

There’s much work to be done to help all Americans get the skills they need for a modern economy, so expect 2020 to be a productive as 2019.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

Read more