On August 31, 2023, The Graduate! Network announced the creation of a new strategic operating partnership with CAEL (the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning). To learn more, visit CAEL’s website, and you can read the full announcement here.



Why Bridging the Talent Gap?

The Graduate! Network catalyzes communities and systems around the interests of individual aspirations and goals in the collective movement toward full education and economic equity. Bridging the Talent Gap is our proven approach to activate employers in support of this essential agenda.

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  • 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