Automation and technological advances are having a profound impact on our workforce. While the digital economy has ushered in enormous growth and prosperity for some, it is leaving many others behind. Traditional categories of employment, ways of getting training, and the relationship between employers and workers are continually evolving. The jobs of today increasingly require new skills, and these skills are changing rapidly. Particularly vulnerable to the dynamics of the new economy are the almost 70% of American adults who do not have a four-year college degree.

As a nation we must chart a new course, one that provides value and equal dignity for all Americans. We need to transition to a skills-based labor market—one without the barrier of a four-year college degree that keeps so many people from applying for in-demand jobs. And we need new mechanisms for employers to better identify the skills they need to grow and then connect this information with educators, career coaches, and job seekers.

To achieve a skills-based labor market that works for everyone, Markle, along with Microsoft, LinkedIn, the state of Colorado, and local partners, is building Skillful. Starting in Colorado, we are integrating businesses, state government, non-profits, and educators to forge a new way of creating and accessing opportunity. Using data and technology tools, we are providing transparency around the value of educational and training programs, giving educators a clearer picture of which skills are in demand in their area, and giving businesses a better sense of which skills are available in their applicant pool. Our goal is to help job seekers access a variety of choices to achieve lasting career success; for employers to find the skilled talent they need to grow; and for educators to train people with the skills required to compete in today’s economy.


46 Percent


 1 Manpower Group, “2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey”



2 “America’s Divided Recovery.” Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, June 30, 2016.



3 “The State of American Jobs.” A Pew Research Center survey, conducted in association with the Markle Foundation, October 2016.


  • Facilitating widespread adoption of high quality skills-based employment practices.
  • Aligning educational programs to employment needs by informing and driving collaboration through industry-specific approaches.
  • Driving increased transparency and data around educational outcomes to make it easier for job seekers to understand the value of different training programs.
  • Encouraging widespread understanding of the multiple pathways to success that are available in the digital economy.
  • Creating a system of effective, evidence-based coaching to help job seekers successfully achieve career growth and opportunities for good paying jobs in high growth industries.





Travis Little, a 33 year old resident of Loveland, Colorado, attended a Skillful workshop in search of a career path that would enable him to put his skills as a mechanical engineer to use in another industry. After losing a good job when the oil and gas industry experienced a downturn, he found himself working as a pizza delivery driver to make ends meet.

Through Skillful, he learned about training opportunities in advanced manufacturing and signed up with Skillful career coaches. They helped him explore jobs, polish his resume, and apply for funding for training to work as a machinist. Travis thanks Skillful for helping him find a path to learn new skills so he can get ahead in today’s economy.




Bylo Farmer recently decided it was time for a new career. She had a bachelor’s degree in recreation management, but had been out of the field for more than 20 years. She wanted to start over in something fresh and exciting. She had heard a lot about advanced manufacturing as a growing industry in Colorado that offered good jobs, and she decided to sign up for courses at her local community college.

During her first week of classes at Front Range Community College she learned about a Skillful Women in Manufacturing luncheon in Denver where she learned about Skillful and all it had to offer. “Going to that luncheon opened up doors I might have missed,” said Bylo Farmer. “I joined the Women in Manufacturing professional group and also signed up for Skillful coaching.”

Shortly after the event, Skillful career coach Sara Robertson reached out to Bylo. “Coaching from Sara opened up another resource for me — how to set up my LinkedIn account and how to best leverage my resume to gain employment,” said Bylo.

Bylo continued her classes at FRCC and after finishing two classes in precision machining, she received her certification and began applying for jobs. Sara continued to help Bylo improve her resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as prep for interviews.

“The last time I wrote a resume was 15 years ago! So Sara's "second eye" and suggestions really helped me land my first job.”

A local company that manufactures precision medical devices soon hired Bylo, who says she couldn’t be happier! She credits Skillful and the coaching she received for helping her throughout her journey. “Everything about Skillful was beyond great — for someone coming into a completely new field and not having had to look for a job in the last 15 years. I got amazing support and advice.”


In Colorado we are seeing positive indications of engagement and behavior change:

  • 90 small and medium-sized employers have invested time in informing our skills research and employer toolkit, with 20 employers working in depth with us to move towards skills-based employment;
  • 48% of the job seekers we surveyed who worked with Skillful coaches have already enrolled in training or obtained new jobs;
  • Nearly all of our Skillful coaches strongly agree that Skillful has provided them new tools and ways of approaching their work with job seekers;
  • Skillful has informed and provided guidance on a state-wide workforce strategy to create successful pathways and choices for those without college degrees.


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