News: SkillUp and Jobs for the Future Release Earn and Learn Toolkit to Fill Critical Skills and Labor Gaps in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Nov 23, 2022


November 15, 2022> — SkillUp Coalition, a national collaboration of
nonprofits, training providers, and employers, has partnered with Jobs for the Future (JFF) with
funding from to develop a digital toolkit for small and medium-sized businesses to
explore how common earn and learn models—paid internships, Registered Apprenticeships,
and on-the-job training—can connect them to a broader, more diverse pool of workers to fill
critical skills and labor gaps, while reducing costs to recruit and onboard new workers. The
newly released resource offers guidance for small and medium-sized businesses on how to
assess the fit of earn and learn programs within their unique business context and provides
actionable steps on where and how to start.

With U.S. job openings exceeding 10.7 million in September 2022, small and medium-sized
businesses, the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, are facing unprecedented challenges to support
labor gaps and the economic strains that result regionally and nationally. Today, it’s more
important than ever to source reliable talent quickly and develop pipelines that can deliver talent
from diverse backgrounds who will be prepared to make an impact on day one. And it’s
especially important for digital jobs, for which the demand across industries continues to

“Earn and learn models not only offer employers an opportunity to expand their talent pipeline,
but also meet essential business goals. Validated by SkillUp workers, this toolkit offers practical
solutions and tips for SMBs for which earn and learn models have been historically out of
reach,” said Elissa Salas, Vice President of Partnerships and Operations, SkillUp.
Earn and learn models—structured programs in which workers learn and apply skills and earn a
wage at the same time—are a powerful way for businesses to attract and recruit workers
quicker for long-term employment and foster more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
Specifically, earn and learn programs in digital jobs can help businesses keep pace with and
benefit from technological advancements by bringing in new talent to focus and specialize in IT
areas or who may have greater familiarity with the new technology already—all while showing
commitment to their communities by investing in local talent.

“Earn and learn programs offer the chance to address two systemic problems at once. Small
businesses need better ways to find workers who have the talent, training, and resilience to
stabilize their workforce,” said Kristina Francis, Executive Director of JFFLabs with Jobs for the
Future. “And workers who have for generations been overlooked and undertrained need
pathways to good jobs with long-term prospects for economic advancement. There is a
bright-light opportunity for employers who can see the potential of earn-and-learn through the
lens of equity.”

Employers and worker advocates can access the toolkit at If you are
a training provider, employer, technology & service provider, or nonprofit interested in joining
SkillUp, please visit

About SkillUp Coalition
Founded in July 2020, SkillUp Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects workers with the
right tools, resources, and support so they can make confident career shifts, find quality
living-wage jobs, and position themselves for promising career growth. Since its founding,
SkillUp has connected 1.1 Million workers to career, training, and job support throughout the

The coalition brings together over 90 leading organizations including training and education
providers, technology developers, policymakers, employers, and philanthropies. In addition to its
national reach, SkillUp operates local partnerships in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Florida,
Louisiana, Northern Nevada, Philadelphia, New York City, Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, and Dallas.
SkillUp proudly advocates for an affordable, equitable, upskilling ecosystem that ensures every
worker has high-opportunity employment. For more information, please visit or
follow on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:
Desiree Jewell, VP of Marketing & Communications, SkillUp: [email protected]


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