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Roundtable: Supporting diverse approaches to upskilling

by Becky Lattof on


Today’s workforce is changing – in how we recruit talent, retain talent and build structures to support the development of talent. To learn more about these shifts, we reached out to some experts in the upskilling space for a roundtable discussion.

In this episode, Dr. Julie Keane and Mike Washburn are joined by Don Fraser Jr., Tiffany Delgado and Carol Carter to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in upskilling and the role Communities of Practice can play in workforce development.

About the guests

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Don Fraser Jr.

Don Fraser Jr. is the Chief Program Officer at Education Design Lab, where he disrupts education and tests new ideas that support the shift from institution to learner-centric models. Fraser spoke about this shift and the role of industry-university partnerships at the 2019 Education Symposium.

Tiffany Delgado

Tiffany Delgado joins us from Innovate+Educate, a non-profit founded to create a skills-based paradigm shift for working and learning. Innovate+Educate’s many projects include Close It, a tech summit engaging thought partners and industry leaders in understanding the shift in competency-based learning and employment ecosystems.

Carol Carter

Carol Carter is the founder and CEO of GlobaMindED, closing the equity gap by creating a capable, diverse talent pipeline with programs, content and courses for students from the least-resourced backgrounds. The organization offers monthly equity sessions for different domains and is currently hosting its virtual annual conference.

Expanding the ecosystem of workforce development

All of our guests agree that diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of successful workforce development, and existing hierarchies don’t provide equitable access or promote lifelong learning. All three of their organizations collaborate with employers and education experts to impact the workforce development ecosystem, making learning more easily attainable, navigable and marketable to employers.

Education Design Lab leads learner-centered design challenges to address equity and skill gaps, leading to transformative models of learning and unique partnerships. It aims to catalyze a movement to skills-based hiring with scalable solutions managing many projects and initiatives, such as the BRIDGES design challenge to support the economic agility of rural learners and drive growth in their communities. The Lab also helps learning providers and employers develop machine-readable micro-credentialing to help employers build and discover talent.

Innovate+Educate built a first-of-its-kind online resource hub for New York State with competency-based training, assessments and other resources to support workforce development. Other projects include a soft-skills assessment, a platform matching candidates to appropriate training, a program to set and work toward career goals, and events to provide access to competency-based hiring opportunities.

GlobalMindED offers Teen Tech, an event helping girls, minorities, and underserved population students pursue STEM and to grow a more diverse and innovative STEM workforce. The organization also collaborates with campuses to provide practical training for a successful transition to college, academic persistence, networking, workplace readiness, and mentorship from first generation student leaders.

“The future of work is diverse, inclusive, just and equitable," said Carter.

A critical shift needed for investment in learning

Carter says that COVID-19 showed that the billions of dollars corporations have invested in diversity, equity and inclusion haven’t quite made a difference. She suggests that it will take a multi-pronged approach to improve structures in higher ed, healthcare, the technology industry and within foundations. 

Fraser suggests a change in strategy: rather than focus on what the market needs, we must tune into what learners need. A common thread between Education Design Lab, Innovate+Educate and GlobalMindED is the involvement and voice of those who have not normally had access to resources and learning via traditional hierarchies to form the shift to new systems that serve their learning needs better. Fraser says that the government needs to invest in and reorganize community colleges since they have great potential for upskilling, equity, and employer connections. 

“This isn’t just a U.S. problem. The systems we have aren’t honoring the skills people have. Covid has spawned innovation and agency,” says Fraser. “I love the notion of Communities of Practice because they take it to a place of doing, bringing the right people into those conversations.” 

He believes being uncomfortable, outside of traditional silos, is the way to create the change that is so greatly needed. Delgado shares that by outlining goals and outcomes for their ideation hubs, Innovate+Educate has brought together people from interesting sectors, and that Participate has been a great partnership.

Communities of Practice allow for people across regions to contribute in their own time. They bring more ideas and unique perspectives to the table, which is the kind of problem-solving power needed to improve our traditional learning systems and transition to a more equitable way of learning and gaining access to the workforce.

To learn more about workforce development and to start building equitable upskilling environments for your organization, click below.


Becky Lattof

Becky Lattof