A campaign to help employers, employees, learning providers and other community stakeholders understand and meet the challenges of ensuring a skilled and educated workforce.  One community at a time, campaign sponsor, The Graduate! Network leads a national effort to increase college completion among adults, and Bridging The Talent Gap is our employer and employee engagement strategy.




  • Employers are substantially more likely to recognize applied skill mastery for labor pool with 4-year degrees
  • Relatively small number of employers currently partner with higher education institutions but large percent (typically >75%) are interested in creating partnerships
  • Percent of employers who offer tuition assistance is substantially smaller than estimates based on national data collection (50 – 60% BTTG versus typical report of 70 – 80% in national research)
  • The need for increases in professional/industry-based credentials is equal to 4-year degrees as the most anticipated need in coming years
  • Employers seldom say local colleges/learning institutions do not produce qualified job candidates


  • Workers currently completing coursework cite three concerns: finances, work-education scheduling conflicts, education interference with family responsibilities;
  • Interference with work or education responsibilities not as prominent as we anticipated
  • Employees are substantially less likely to know about or acknowledge efforts made by employers to support education and learning
  • Those who do not pursue credentials are highly likely to consider education as useless/unnecessary in furthering their career or compensation
  • Workers say more time to pursue education and more information are the most sought after types of support from employers


In 2017, Kentucky SHRM won the prestigious Pinnacle Award for BTTG

"Mission: Graduate, the education initiative of the United Way of Central New Mexico, has a big goal of 60,000 new graduates with degrees and certificates in Central New Mexico by 2020. One of our signature initiatives, Graduate! ABQ, provides one-to-one coaching to adults who want to further their education. We see these individuals at our Central Region Workforce Connection Center but have wondered how we could reach employed individuals at their place of work. The Bridging the Talent Gap survey was a tool to help us connect with both employees and employers. The survey revealed that employers are offering benefits (but their employees don’t always know about them) and that there is high interest among employers for engaging with higher education institutions. We learned employees are interested in continuing their education but need time, flexible work schedules and financial support, which validated our Graduate! ABQ work. We are in the process of building out the work with employers based on these key learnings from the BTTG survey."
Jessica Nojek

Executive Director, Mission: Graduate, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Bridging the Talent Gap provided the St. Louis Regional Chamber an opportunity to gain valuable insight from employers in our community about the skills and talents in most demand. This kind of data is incredibly important to our work, which is focused on addressing some of our top talent shortages across key industries that give St. Louis a competitive advantage. Bridging the Talent Gap has been the impetus for a more targeted strategy focused on bringing employers together with higher education and workforce partners to build stronger talent pipelines to high-growth, in-demand occupations. This project has been a win for business partners as well as for those developing and connecting local talent to job opportunities.”
Greg Laposa
Vice President of Education Strategies, St. Louis Regional Chamber. St. Louis, Missouri

Our Publications

You can view more reports and powerpoints on the retail sector page and the dashboard page.

Hadass Sheffer, Dan Ash, Bridgett Strickler and Zach Zimmerman from the TGN Team co-authored a chapter, Bridging The Talent Gap Through Data Insights and Community Action, in the recently released Federal Reserve publication “Investing In America’s Workforce.” You can read the chapter (Volume 1, chapter 3) at InvestInWork.org where we lay out the evidence using BTTG data to support our fundamental assertion that more robust partnerships between Higher Education Institutions, Employers and Employees are mutually beneficial to all.

Chapter Abstract: Communities need objective information to attract investments in workforce development that reinforce employers’ goals, employees’ educational attainment, and regional economic prosperity. The Graduate! Network’s Bridging the Talent Gap initiative is a locally focused, data-driven approach for building the case for employers to partner with their employees and their communities. The authors’ findings from a national survey show a valuable relationship exists between employers who provide learning benefits and employees who take advantage of these programs. Before this survey, much of the evidence to support that notion was not generalizable because of the success stories’ anecdotal nature. Research was consistently lacking data, particularly for midsized and smaller employers, which describe the nature of employer-provided educational benefits, need for those benefits, and affirmation of an employer’s return on investment.