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U.S. Secretary of Commerce to Headline Open Skills Network’s Inaugural Skills Summit

Two-day Virtual Event to Focus on Accelerating the Adoption of Skills-Based Learning and Hiring

Jul 26, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – Highlighting the urgent need to close America’s skills gap and equip the workforce of the future, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will headline the inaugural 2021 Skills Summit of the Open Skills Network (OSN) on July 28 and 29. 

The event is an important milestone in what has been an eventful first year for the OSN, a cross-sector collaboration of over 500 leading employers, higher education institutions, and tech companies. Since launching in September 2020, the OSN’s broad coalition is leading a movement focused on creating a more equitable, skills-driven labor market that matches learners and workers with skills-based education and career opportunities.

Secretary Raimondo’s opening keynote address will be followed by in-depth discussions with leaders in the field of skills-based learning and hiring, including representatives from Walmart, LinkedIn, Workday, Western Governors University, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Several other companies and educational institutions will also be represented when team members from the first round of 14 OSN Skills Pilots report on their projects. 

“We’re thrilled to have such a great group of guests joining us for our first-ever Skills Summit, including Secretary Raimondo,” said Sarah DeMark, Interim Executive Director of the OSN and Vice Provost of Workforce Intelligence and Credential Integrity at WGU. “The OSN’s mission to solve talent pipeline challenges across employment sectors aligns with the Department of Commerce’s emphasis on investing in our workforce and building out business infrastructure to drive economic growth. We’re pleased Secretary Raimondo is adding her voice to the OSN conversation.”

Titled “Opening Up the Learning-Earning Ecosystem,” the Skills Summit’s sessions and presentations will explore several critical issues the OSN is tackling. These include advancing equity in skills-based learning and hiring, creating technical solutions for utilizing skills data, and advocating for a skills-based approach in education and the workforce. Attendees will get a glimpse of the OSN’s vision of a world in which learners and workers are empowered to use their skills—no matter where they were obtained—as currency within the employment and education marketplace.

“The notion that a traditional degree is the only way an individual can advance their career simply isn’t valid anymore,” said Marni Baker Stein, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at WGU and an expert on competency-based education. “Employers are increasingly starting to value alternative learning pathways, like work-based learning and internships, as a way for their employees to develop and redevelop needed skills and competencies.”

As an example of how the OSN is working to make skills the common language of learning and work, one of the summit’s sessions will feature a demonstration of the first iteration of WGU’s Open Skills Management Tool. This open source software toolkit will facilitate the creation and maintenance of open skills libraries for use across sectors including education, the workforce, government, and the military.  

About the Open Skills Network

Established in 2020, the Open Skills Network is a group of more than 530 employers, educational organizations, and technology providers dedicated to accelerating the adoption of skills-based education and hiring by establishing a network of open skills libraries and skills data. With coordination from BrightHive, support from Walmart, Western Governors University, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and building off the work of Concentric Sky, Credential Engine, Emsi, and others, the Open Skills Network is developing common standards and practices to serve as the infrastructure for widespread skills-based education and hiring practice adoption. Skills-based education and hiring can advance equity, efficiency, and efficacy in job searching and hiring practices. Learn more at  

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