The Data-Informed Skills Revolution Has Started

Share this post

To create an economy that works for everyone, the U.S. needs to change the way we think about the skills and qualifications of our workforce.

Collectively, we must transition to a workforce system that recognizes and understands the skills gained through all forms of learning – including employment and service – the same way it recognizes and understands college degrees.

The traditional workforce system overly relies on formal education models – an approach that no longer meets the demands of the labor market. This approach devalues workers who have the skills required for in-demand, skilled jobs and makes it hard for employers to find the right candidates.

But there’s hope. We can bridge the skills gap by adopting a skills-based and data-informed workforce system that matches individuals with opportunities that meet their personalized needs and aspirations. This approach benefits both workers and employers. has been leading the way in this space for years and recently supported the launch of two major efforts.

First, a group of neutral, national stakeholder groups released the first version of a Learning & Employment Record (LER) Ecosystem Map. The map outlines different ways organizations can work together to manage skills data. We’re also supporting the SkillsFWD initiative, designed to show the map in action.

The LER Ecosystem Map is an interactive guide for managing skills data

At home, Walmart continues to invest in our associates’ training and development so they have the skills they need to be successful, while at the same time enabling the success of the business and meeting the needs of our customers. We take a ‘one size fits one’ approach to development, meeting our people where they are to account for different learning styles, backgrounds and interests.

We know the skills needed tomorrow will be different from today, which requires new and accessible models to help workers develop the skills they need to access future job opportunities. Employers, educational institutions, non-profits, and workers are collaborating to create new learning models that meet the needs of all workers.

While there are still barriers to address – such as the need for deeper and richer sets of verifiable data – our team sees the momentum growing.

The LER Map will be refined and projects like SkillsFWD will show what is working and what needs improvement. Additional research will provide a clear understanding of what is possible.

The data-informed, skills revolution, has started. We invite you to jump aboard this train before it leaves the station.

Together, we can create an economy that works for everyone.

About the Authors

Sean Murphy is a senior manager on the Opportunity team at, where he supports Walmart’s philanthropic efforts in developing the infrastructure needed to empower the development of a skill based workforce system, which will enable all learning to count. In doing so, his work has led to Walmart investments in efforts such as the U.S. Chambers T3 Network, WGU’s Open Skills Network, among others.