Are our Career Pathways already out-of-date? Do workers and employers need a Careers "Waze" ?

Integrating Technology, Program Management and Career Pathways colleagues,

I found this Wall Street Journal article, Why Companies Are Failing at Reskilling"  quite thought-provoking. I hope you will too. Incidentally, it includes some fascinating career pathway illustrations for retail sales associates, assembly machine operators, laborers/warehouse workers, help desk technicians/analysts, and data entry clerks.

If you read the article, how do you see that adult basic skills programs could help employers and workers to address these problems? Could adult basic skills programs provide workplace basic skills training, leading to badges or certificates, as part of a workplace re-training effort? Could an adult basic skills assessment organization identify the digital literacy competencies needed for online learning and virtual reality learning and training, and develop company-contextualized assessments that would help workers build their own career pathways to significantly better jobs and wages?  What else strikes you as a possible role for workplace basic skills programs, and workforce preparation programs?  Do you think a "Careers Waze" would be useful to your students or  "learner/workers" ? If so, would this be a good XPRIZE competition?

Here are some teasers from the article:

"In a tight labor market, employers from Amazon to JPMorgan are trying to get better at retraining the workers they have. 'We need a Waze for your career,’ says one labor expert." (Note: Waze is an up-to-the-minute traffic navigation -- maps and directions -- smartphone app)

"Instead of teaching new skills to their current workers, employers often choose the disruption and high costs of layoffs or buyouts. Why? Sometimes the required skills aren’t easily taught to existing employees, experts say. It’s also often because companies have only a hazy sense of what their internal talent is capable of, and migrating large numbers of employees into new positions requires time, money and commitment."

"Employers are still trying to master the challenge of mapping the skills of their current workers, identifying the skills required of their future workforce and filling the gaps between the two. By the time many companies figure out exactly who they need, it’s often too late to invest the necessary time and money into retraining."

"JPMorgan, which has 250,000 employees, is rolling out a platform called 'skills passport.' The project so far has been deployed in the bank’s IT department, and it will soon be tested with employees in operations roles. Workers use it to take assessments to measure their current skills, and view career options and a curated list of activities and training they can take, said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives."

"At AT&T Inc., 180,000 employees so far have participated in its Future Ready program. Workers can assess their skills, then pursue short-term badges, nanodegrees taking up to a year to complete, or master’s degrees in fields like computer science and data science offered in partnership with institutions such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Notre Dame. Most classes and credentials are paid for by the company, but workers do the coursework primarily on their own time."

"A White House report last year showed that nearly all spending, public and private, on education and training occurs before a person turns 25—essentially while they’re in formal school. The U.S. ranked second-to-last among 29 developed nations in terms of taxpayer-funded training investment, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and has shown little appetite for experimentation."

" 'Many countries we compete with see continual worker retraining as part of their economic strategy. The way we’ve traditionally treated education in this country is the government is responsible for your education until age 18, and after that it’s more of a private matter,' said Andy Van Kleunen, chief executive of the National Skills Coalition, which advocates for better job training."

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups








Re the Wall Street Journal article, when I opened the link, a pop-up message said I could view it on their website if I purchased a WSJ membership. Do you have another link that provides free access?

Phil Anderson

Hi Phil,

I am not a WSJ subscriber, and I just accessed the article at

Try ignoring the pop-up message; just scroll down the page and you may be able to see the article. If that doesn't work, the WSJ allows one to share this article using Twitter or Facebook, so if you have a Twitter or Facebook account I could send it to you privately. Email me at about that. I don't know if a "shared" article would have the same problem or not.

David J. Rosen



I was able to access from the long link :) 

I'll have to remember next time I want to read a WSJ article to go and search Twitter to see if somebody's shared it .... 

This article makes me think of the book Lower_Ed   about the shift of the economic burden of learning and training from schools and industry to the students.   It talks about giving employees assessments and then "training they can take."   Would that training be, say, at for-profit schools and at the employees' expense? 

Hi Susan, and others who may be surprised by their LINCS digital badge,

Needless to say, Susan, this was not your first post on LINCS,  but you may easily be able correct this. Try clicking on your name, going to "Account Settings," and then clicking on "Badges" in the upper left where you should see (or click on "List" to see) your badges. You and other LINCS members who have many posts in the LINCS Community should be able to select a badge that better represents the actual number of your posts.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrrating Technology and Program Management groups


David, thanks for this.  I was able to access the article via my community college's library after some figuring.  What I think is so interesting is that some of the traditional attitudes around job training are starting to fail.  Companies and other stakeholders are seeing that an attitude of "If they want a job, they will figure it out!" isn't working so well.  What we are noticing here in Omaha is that many populations of workers are unable and/or unwilling to pay for any education or training at all.  In the adult education world, it had always been our hope to feed GED and ESL graduates into our community college as certificate and degree seekers.  With a handful of exceptions, it isn't happening.  Wages are so low for service workers that cash-starved households see expenditures for education and training as unrealistic.  We are having some success with newly launched IETs.  Young workers are willing to participate in training or retraining more often when they are being paid to do so.  In our first IET, the company pays for a summer of training for a new, young workforce.  The student/worker pays nothing, receives 18 college credits (4 classes) and 3 industry-recognized certifications.  The student/worker is paid minimum wage as a training wage, and then upon completion of training, graduates from the training program, gets the first in a series of raises and continues with the sponsoring employer.  In my humble experience, shifting training and education costs onto workers and their families is usually not working.  Construction in this region has a shortage of workers and it has the potential to slow production to unacceptable levels.  I don't have any experience with WAZE, but I know that the dollar is a pretty universal "app".

Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote a book called Lower_Ed   about this trend (and how it doesn't work).   She wrote a *lot* abou tthe for-profit tech schools and the strategies they use to draw students in.  I learned a lot from it... it inspires me to go past the academics and include asking students about the rest of life, their goals, et.   The for-profit schools have folks for hire who sell the idea of chasing your dream.... being a better parent... and that there are/were places that did a good job of getting people into careers, but the societal/political changes that shift the responsibility to the student have changed things...