Started in 2010 with a collaboration between Arizona State University (ASU) and Global Silicon Valley (GSV), the annual ASU+ GSV Summit connects leading minds focused on transforming society and business around learning and work. Its north star is that ALL people have equal access to the future. Here are just a few of the ideas that came out of this year’s summit:
1. We Have a Major Training Gap and Innovative Finance Models Can Help Close It
Job training is core to workforce development. But as demand continues to dramatically outpace funding, there is a major gap to fill. Innovative finance models increase access and equity without crippling learners with debt.
These tools, which include things like income share agreements (ISA) and pay-for-performance contracts, shift the focus of programming from outputs to outcomes, ensuring the learner’s vision for success aligns with what training and education providers are held accountable to. For example, the Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund does not require students to make payments until they are making over $40,000 a year—no income, no payments.
“We’re getting to a place where we’re aligning the objectives of the learner with service delivery,” says Brooke Valle, Workforce Partnership Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer. “It starts to allow the consumer to make informed decisions about whether that training program will help them achieve what they want.”
“For so many individuals there just aren’t a lot of options,” says Lexi Barret, Jobs for the Future Associate Vice President. “For a lot of people even that small expense is too much. How do you construct something that takes someone’s real situation in mind and gives them the best chance of success?”
2. Investing in the Least Advantaged Offers the Biggest ROI
What percentage of people get to reach their full potential in the workforce? The answer, according to Malcolm Gladwell, should alarm the business world and advance the case for equity, sharing that research indicates we may currently be tapping into as little at 20 percent of America’s potential.
“We’re only scratching the surface of how much potential we’re exploiting,” he shared. “We leave a lot of talent on the table.”
Gladwell says that to truly thrive as a society we need to be playing soccer, a game that rewards teams who improve their worst player versus their best. Instead of throwing money at large universities and star achievers, we should be investing in the potential of under-resourced communities where the impact is most transformational.
3. Upskilling is the Answer to an Evolving World of Work
Many jobs, such as those in manufacturing, are declining, but the requirements of the jobs are changing and causing job growth in other areas. Upskilling has become a necessity to meet the demand of jobs that are available.
“It’s an upskilling across a number of industries,” says Steve Severance, Head of Program Management and Investments Masdar City, UAE. “When we want IoT connected buildings these can’t be installed and tested in the same way we built buildings 10 years ago. The person on the ground establishing these connections needs to be skilled in what they’re doing.”
“Talent is an opportunity in itself,” says Ricardo Rio, Mayor of the City of Braga. “In Portugal, we can attract people but there aren’t enough people in the labor market to fill [IT engineering] positions.” To fill this gap, the City of Braga has started local and national programs to reskill people from other degrees close to IT engineering to provide enough people to fill the demand.
4. Outcomes-driven Design Makes Education More Student-Centered
For many paid learning opportunities, student outcomes are not guaranteed. Alternative models, such as income share agreements, shift the dynamic to ensure students are first and foremost the most important part, unlike traditional loans and funding.
“I’ve done these programs before and I’ve never felt the support that came with this experience,” says Claire Parascandolo, a Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund graduate with a certificate in digital marketing.” That is what is built in an ISA. It’s a student-centric program.”
Through an ISA, students pay no upfront cost to access education and wraparound services. Payments are only due if/when they get a job making at least $40,000—no income, no repayment. This ensures everyone—student, funder and education provider—has a stake in the student’s success.
“Investors in the ISA space have a vested interest to make sure students who go through the program succeed,” says Rick Buckingham, Strada Education Network. “It drives up the quality of the education that’s being offered to the students.”
5. Embedding Career Development and Financial Education into the K-12 Classroom Pursues Justice Through Empowerment
The World of Work™ initiative launched three years ago in the Cajon Valley Union School District has demonstrated that career development and financial empowerment can be integrated in the classroom, by teachers, starting in the earliest grades.
Current data on the initiative—which is the largest study ever of middle school career development—shows that in year two 94% of students could name a specific hoped-for career, a 19% increase over the prior year. And 58% could articulate what they didn’t want to do—a key self-reflection that sets a path to decide what to pursue.
World of Work™ seeks to extend equity to all students through inclusion of a path to financial freedom. To achieve this goal, Cajon Valley School District blends career development with personal finance starting in the early grades, leveraging federal student aid tools to help students envision their future possible selves and become managers of their own careers, on a path to gainful employment and financial freedom.
“You cannot be what you cannot see,” says Dr. Lisa Dawley, Executive Director at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education.