As a Texas resident, I’ve watched our state emerge as a global economic power with great interest. Just last month, Amazon named two Texas cities as finalists for a second North America headquarters, a transformative investment worth an estimated $5 billion and 50,000 new jobs. Our prime status on Amazon’s shortlist shows Texas’s capacity to excel in the future economic climate — and one that will be more challenging and unpredictable than ever before.
What is the secret ingredient? An education system that includes an active role for employers in the preparation of the future workforce. In Texas, business leaders are working side by side with leaders from K-12 and higher education as partners.
This partnership is necessary for success because the landscape is continuing to change. The skills needed for future employment aren’t what they once were. In fact, Pearson's recent research — The Future of Skills, Employment in 2030, completed with Oxford University and Nesta, an innovation foundation — predicts that as much as 70 percent of the current workforce is employed in jobs with uncertain futures at best.
This is why Pearson, like Texas, is more focused than ever on supplying the workforce with new and different skills the future economy demands — with one critical distinction. Employers, including Pearson, have a responsibility to play an active, supporting role helping employees succeed, starting with that first ingredient: education.
As we took stock of our capacity to support the evolving demands of the workforce, we discovered that although getting people ready for the jobs of the future is important, our task goes beyond just re-training workers. We must help construct a more nimble education pathway to employment, emphasizing a diverse range of options for preparing employees, such as alternative credentials, digital badges, online and blended learning, certificate programs, bootcamps and other forms of lifelong learning.
Most importantly, we must do more to meet people where they are in their learning journey. Gov. Greg Abbott’s Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative embodied this new imperative, recognizing the potential for leveraging employer-led public/private partnerships to facilitate more industry-aligned career pathways, and credentials with marketable skills.
Providing employees with the proper education to succeed will ensure them better lives inside and outside of the workplace. It’s known that automation and globalization have resulted in economic shifts, with more and more employers having difficulty finding and retaining skilled workers, and job seekers finding that their skills don’t match in-demand jobs. However, as employers, we can and we must take action to prepare people for the future of work.
For years, many employers have offered education benefits and tuition matching to employees. But, these benefits often come with barriers:
- Employees often have to pay upfront for college, which is a huge ask
- Fitting education into already busy lifestyles is difficult
- Many education seekers lack foundational skills, making it tough to opt-in to programs
These barriers are why only two to three percent of employees take advantage of traditional tuition-assistance programs. That’s clear evidence that employers need a new way to educate and retain employees.
Brinker International, Inc., the Dallas-based parent company of Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy, with the help of Pearson, recently launched a program called Best You EDU, to address these barriers. Best You EDU provides no-cost education benefits to employees at all levels of the company.
The program is one of the few designed to meet employees where they are on their education journeys by offering three main components: foundational skills, GED credentials and associate degrees. Pearson is also providing support coaches who assist with everything from gaining internet access to navigating work and school simultaneously to filling out college applications and selecting courses.
Brinker and Pearson believe that Best You EDU will move people toward a better job and a better life. We also hope that our partnership inspires new kinds of collaboration between education, industry, governors, chambers of commerce, mayors and other local leaders with goal of delivering a stronger workforce and fulling the vision of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.
Programs like Best You EDU set a new standard for how companies can work together to build a stronger workforce for tomorrow.
Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, visit www.pearson.com.