In The News

The National Network: A Chapter Closes – But the Work Continues

After five years of exceeding its promise to “better connect the worlds of learning and work,” the National Network of Business and Industry Associations is concluding its chapter as a formal entity.

“The National Network represents an unprecedented voluntary collaboration among national business organizations that recognize the importance of building an educated and skilled workforce for all economic sectors,” said Dane Linn, who oversees workforce development in his role as vice president at Business Roundtable. “Everyone who has participated deserves to be extremely proud of the work we have accomplished together.”

For membership organizations that joined the National Network, the skills gap had become a principal pain point that required practical solutions. The National Network has made numerous contributions that, taken as a whole, have narrowed the gap and prepared more people for the best careers created by the modern economy.

For national industry credentialing organizations that joined, their competency-based credentialing programs are now in a stronger position to build educational pathways to quality jobs and durable careers.

Along the way, National Network members became important, influential voices of the business community for: prioritizing workforce solutions; offering employers models to replicate; and changing policy, practice and investments to meet the needs of the modern economy. The National Network can point to a long list of significant accomplishments. Working together, our members have:

  • Provided the first-ever industry-driven articulation of the foundational skills needed by every person in order to get, and keep, a job – the Common Employability Skills (CES) framework;
  • Changed the national conversation to recognize work-and-learn models as the most effective blend of theory and hands-on learning to prepare individuals for success in their jobs;
  • Positioned standards-based, nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials and associated learning pathways as effective solutions to the nation’s workforce challenges;
  • Leveraged a series of strategic innovation grants to design and implement replicable models of talent acquisition and development solutions; and
  • Provided valuable industry and employer input to important national policy initiatives, such as the creation and promotion of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.

Beyond these initiatives, the National Network fostered new partnerships and collaborations among associations representing a range of economic sectors. These will only broaden and strengthen in coming years.

 

“Thanks to your hard work, all of our member organizations are better positioned to advance their own programs and initiatives,” Emily DeRocco, who served as the National Network’s director, told the member representatives at the group’s final formal meeting in November.

 

“In light of these accomplishments, and recognizing that our major goals have been accomplished, the National Network has reached a natural culmination point,” DeRocco continued. “Each of us can now move forward on new phases of our work knowing that our colleagues and friends are available to share their wealth of knowledge and experience.”

 

Linn and DeRocco expressed their deep gratitude for the leadership and support of the ACT Foundation, Lumina Foundation, The Joyce Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided funding for the National Network.

 

All who attended the final meeting agreed that, while the formal existence of the group was coming to a close, the real work would continue through the strong partnerships and connections forged over the last five years.