What We’re Reading: New Skills, Talent and Employment

Corporate Learning and Development News
Executives from Ascendify and ADP show the innovative ways that they are using big data to improve learning and development, in an HR Dive article. Ascendify is using AI to evaluate employees skills, determine where employees want to go in their position, and offer ways to develop the necessary skills. ADP is using millions of data points to understand their employee’s trajectories-- either internally at ADP or externally-- and uses that information to both help employees grow and identify employees at risk of leaving.
The federal government and nonprofit organizations should partner with with small to midsize firms to start apprenticeship programs, according to Chief Learning Officer. 
Training Magazine discusses the importance of using targeted coaching to follow up after employees participate in training courses. The author suggests that such coaching not only reinforces learning but also allows managers to hold employees accountable for their learning.
A piece in People Matters suggests that creating a culture of continuous learning must go beyond providing opportunities for upskilling that meet employees time constraints and expectations, but must also tie the learning outcomes to increasing the employee’s value within the organization.
An article in Harvard Business Review advises companies on how to develop an analytical culture, starting with HR leaders. The authors encourage companies to hire based on individual’s analytic capabilities and recommends that moving forward companies should assess the current levels of expertise and require staff to complete online courses through platforms like Coursera. (Harvard Business Review, subscription required)
Credentials, Hiring, and Applicant Tracking News
Bill Triant and Ryan Craig discuss reducing hiring friction by reversing the traditional hiring process and allowing a candidate to start work before making a decision to hire them. This idea allows candidates to be judged for their “will and skill” instead of for their degrees, professional networks, and work experience – allowing for a career reinvention.
The second annual Future of Work survey conducted by The Consumer Technology Association found 92% of its small business members have a growing need for tech workers. While the need increased six percentage points in the last year, optimism about finding qualified candidates decreased two percentage points from last year. The survey also found that employers have plans to retrain and reskill their current employees in an attempt to meet these demands, Quality Magazine writes.
Forbes emphasizes the importance of being data literate. To do so, ThoughtSpot Chief Data Evangelist Doug Bordonaro recommends using both traditional practices (e.g. a basic statistics course) and experiential learning practices such as becoming familiar with company data.
EdSurge’s latest Digital Learning Twitter chat examines the future of non-traditional education providers such as edX, Coursera, General Assembly, and Kenzie Academy and the impact factors such as connection to the workforce and accreditation have on their effectiveness.
General HR News
A new study by beqom, a cloud-based compensation software provider, found that nearly 1 in 3 U.S. workers do not believe their company fairly compensatesemployees regardless of their age or race. The survey also found that nearly half of U.S. workers (48%) believe that men are paid more than women at their company and that managers and supervisors set pay based on their feelings about the employee rather than performance, experience, or skill set.
Forbes warns against attempting to separate HR functions, with the exception of payroll. The responsibility of HR is to protect the business from the risks surrounded by personnel matters and attempting to divide key functions such as recruiting personnel, investigating issues and maintaining benefit information could likely result in legal issues.
Months after Walgreens announced its increase in wages by $100M, the company is making changes to its benefits, adding parental leave for new mothers and fathers and expanding short-term disability leave.  A spokesperson for the company said these changes are meant to attract and retain candidates.
Employer Partnerships/Company Innovation
MIT announced a $1 billion initiative this week to make artificial intelligence a part of the curriculum for all students as a way to prepare students for the future, Venture Beat writes. MIT’s initiative is the latest way AI is changing curriculum major computer science schools in the United States, following Carnegie Mellon’s plans to offer an undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence.
This week Starbucks announced a new benefit to offer 10 days of subsidized backup care for kids and adults through a partnership with Care.com.
Walmart and The Walmart Foundation announced $4 million in grant funding for programs focused on providing pathways and increasing access to education. The funding comes as a part of the companies Retail Opportunity Initiative, an effort aimed at making it easier for retail employees to gain new skills and advance in their careers. The grantees include The Foundation for California Community Colleges, Code for America Labs, Inc. and edX.org.
Startups, Innovation, and Investment News
Trilogy Education announced the acquisition of coding platform the Firehose Project as well as career services platform JobTrack. These acquisitions are the latest in the companies efforts to support universities in providing skills-based training programs for online students while helping program graduates find employment.
ConveyIQ, a recruitment software company, raised $5.5 million in a funding round led by SC Venture. Additional funding came from existing investors 3TS Capital Partners and StarVest Partners. The new funding will be used to expand marketing and sales as well as for product development.
Korn Ferry, the human resources consulting firm, recently released two new products aimed at providing businesses with guidance in recruitment and candidate selection. The products use AI and machine learning to collect information from a variety of over 50 resources to help recruiters make hiring decisions.
Fiverr, a marketplace for freelancers, launched Learn from Fiverr, an e-learning platform set to compete with the likes of Udemy and Coursera. The learning platform will offer a variety of industry-specific online courses, as well as courses that teach general entrepreneurship and business skills. The prices of the courses will range from $19 to $38 and the length will be dependent upon the topic.
Macroeconomic Trends and Public Policy
The U.S. Department of Labor recently dispersed $1.5 million in funding to programs that support the recruitment, training, and retention of women in pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs focused on manufacturing, infrastructure, and cybersecurity. Funding was awarded to the Aroostook County Action Program in Maine, Chicago Women in Trades program in Illinois, the Community Services Agency of Metropolitan Washington AD, AFL-CIO, and the Vermont Works for Women Program.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that 13 million jobs paying between $35,000-$56,000 are available for those with no more than a high school diploma. Jobs that require only a high school diploma represent 20% of all quality jobs available, and predictions about the availability of these jobs in the future economy are uncertain. 
Amazon ended development of its experimental hiring tool, which used artificial intelligence to score applicants, after finding that the tool penalized applications that included the word “women’s” or if the candidate went to an all-women’s college. The company edited the program to make it gender neutral but was unsuccessful in removing all bias,  ultimately offering a case study in the limitations of machine learning, VentureBeat says.