The issue of improving educational opportunity for the U.S. workforce is on the minds of leaders across the United States. Policymakers, employers, and educators often use the term “upskill” to describe efforts to help the American labor force to obtain the training they need to reach the next level in their careers and, ultimately, transition to better-paying jobs. Notably, it’s been used by President Obama, who launched his Upskill Initiative during this year’s State of the Union Address. It’s a significant effort—one requiring sustained effort—but also presents a great opportunity for Cengage and ed2go with the potential to make a significant impact with individuals and to our business.

Cengage Learning’s participation in the upskills effort

On April 24, I had the opportunity to participate in the White House Upskill Summit. This event brought together employers, trade and labor unions, non-profit groups, and other organizations at the White House that are committed to empowering workers with the education and training they need to succeed in today’s economy. In small group breakout sessions led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, we participated in discussions with executives from Taco Bell and McDonalds discussing how to scale best practices from our partnership, and support long-term efforts to provide the tools and training their employees need to succeed. McDonalds made a bold decision this spring to expand upon our successful pilot and offer our COHS program to all eligible US employees in both their corporate and franchise stores—this has the potential to impact thousands of their 800,000 front line workers. Employees earn a high-school diploma and career certificate through Career Online High School (COHS), and can later go on to complete ed2go courses, developing skills that can lead to greater success in their careers. Vice President Biden was also on hand to participate in the closing discussions and remarks during the summit.

Cengage Learning’s broader mission: Improving educational access, outcomes, and opportunities

Like many industries in the United States (and across the globe), Cengage Learning is itself undergoing a transformation. We’re asking ourselves a number of important questions: How do our solutions and services affect outcomes for students completing coursework and participating in other learning opportunities? How do we increase retention and improve those outcomes? And, how do we work with partners in industry and government to ensure that individuals obtain the intended outcomes—credentials, improved career prospects, and an overall engaging learning experience?

Ultimately, we believe that our services and solutions can play a vital role in supporting learning that matters to the workforce. As an example, Career Online High School (COHS), can help those who have been gated in their opportunities to reclaim what they’ve missed by not having a high school diploma and demonstrably improve their skills and employment, as well as their earning potential.

The road ahead: leading to greater educational and economic growth

Along with Cengage Learning’s CEO Michael Hansen, colleagues Susan Aspey, Sandi Kirshner, Dawn Gerrain, and Wendy Goffin—and of course, all Cengage Learning employees involved in delivering our learning solutions—we’re optimistic that this is just the beginning. We are confident our commitment to driving high school completion and workforce skill-building will result in greater numbers of individuals engaged in family-supporting, life-sustaining work—which has a direct impact on sustained economic growth.

As people who embrace the power and joy of learning for all, we believe in our Cengage mission and look forward to the future. We’re sincerely honored to participate in the ongoing conversation at the White House and bring this educational and economic opportunity to a broader audience.


If you’d like to know more about “upskill” and Cengage Learning’s commitment to improving educational access and opportunity in the United States (and around the world), please submit a comment below.