The National Skills Coalition (NSC), which fights for inclusive, high-quality skills training to enable people to access a better life and to help local businesses see sustained growth, is asking for-profit businesses in Indiana – and across America – to sign a letter to raise awareness of the need to close a national digital skills divide. 

Based on a recent NSC report, about 92 percent of jobs across industry sectors require a digital skill like using a handheld device, phone apps, electronic records, advanced manufacturing equipment, but a third of workers – or nearly 50 million Americans – don’t have the foundational digital skills necessary to thrive in today’s jobs. To produce a strong workforce and competitive businesses in a global economy, NSC believes U.S. leaders must invest in inclusive, high-quality training for today’s jobs and those in the future.   

Companies that sign onto the letter, supported by the NSC’s business engagement initiative Business Leaders United, will be listed on an NSC webpage and highlighted during October’s digital inclusion week (October 2-6.) Organizers say they want to laud businesses big and small that “do the work of digital upskilling or work in their community around building tech skills.” 

Fortune 500 companies like Walmart, Tyson Foods, Equinix, Microsoft, IBM, Cognizant, Comcast and Salesforce are among those already signed on to the effort. As a nonprofit, TechPoint cannot sign onto the letter, but agreed to alert and encourage for-profit companies to consider signing on. 

“We haven’t used the phrase “closing the digital skills divide” ourselves, but that’s exactly what our Mission41K initiative is designed to do, so we know there are lots of Indiana companies that are working to close that gap,” said Dennis Trinkle, TechPoint’s senior vice president of Talent, Strategy, and Partnerships. “Any business leader who has taken our pledge is doing the work of digital upskilling, so we want to make sure they know of this effort.” 

The letter is purely an awareness building letter, and it does not include any policy asks.  Questions about the effort should be routed to Jeran Culina at the NSC. Those interested in joining the effort should respond through this link by August 31. 

Principles for Closing the Digital Divide: Business-Only Sign-On  

The pandemic demonstrated the urgency of putting high-quality, connected technology in more hands. But it also made clear that to close the digital divide and realize our nation’s full economic potential, Americans must be empowered to adapt to technology’s constant evolution in the workplace.    

America needs a comprehensive strategy to close the digital skill divide. As corporations, each of us is taking steps to advance digital equity. Now, as our nation implements historic investments in closing the digital divide, we the undersigned encourage decisionmakers to consider five principles that can support Digital Equity at Work:

1. High quality hardware in all hands

The pandemic laid bare the connection between access to notebooks, laptops, and other connected devices and access to education, training, jobs, healthcare, support services, and social networks.

2. Every community connected

Broadband is a foundational service to which all Americans must have access.

3. A digital skill foundation for all

Nearly 50 million people in the U.S. need to build foundational digital skills to harness the power of the Internet through connected devices. Every person should have the opportunity to develop broad-based, flexible digital problem-solving skills for current technologies and ongoing technological shifts.

4. Upskilling for every worker in every workplace

Technology is impacting nearly every industry and occupation in different ways. We can empower workers with industry- and occupational-specific digital skills to adapt and advance in their careers. 

5. Rapid reskilling for rapid re-employment

Each industry has specific technical demands. Overnight the pandemic brought structural shifts to our labor market, reminding us that America’s workers must have access to rapid reskilling to move from one industry to another.