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.

After two years in Colorado, in October of 2018, Skillful announced expansion into a second state: Indiana. The expansion will bring investment, training, tools and innovative methods to augment Indiana’s Next Level workforce development agenda.

The launch of Skillful Indiana brings together the Markle Foundation, Microsoft Philanthropies, the Walmart Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Purdue University, and Purdue Extension with the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and regional workforce boards in order to create better pathways to good jobs for Hoosiers. Skillful Indiana will work with Indiana businesses and the state’s innovative educational community to equip Hoosiers with the marketable skills that are the new currency of the digital 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.

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