Last week, President Obama announced the launch of UpSkill America—a coalition of business, education, and workforce training organizations leading a movement to expand economic opportunity for American workers. As the economy continues to improve, many employers are struggling to find skilled workers to fill the jobs they have available. At the same time, tens of millions of American workers in low-wage jobs could be trained to fill more skilled roles, but don’t have easy access to the education and workforce training they need to get on a career path to a better job.

With demand high—US businesses will need 123 million skilled workers by 2020—and supply low—only 50 million people possess the necessary skills to meet these qualifications—the opportunity ahead is tremendous.

“Today we are partnering with business across the country to ‘UpSkill America.’ To help workers of all ages earn a shot at better higher paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.”

As the President spoke these words at Boise State, the Burness-designed microsite was launched to give the movement a home online.


The White House had tapped our friends at The Aspen Institute Skills for America’s Future to manage this employer-led movement to upgrade the skills of American workers. But up until the days just before the announcement, UpSkill America had simply been a concept—albeit one with many supporters.

Burness worked with Skills for America’s Future to develop a logo and clear messages about the goals of the venture that would resonate with the partners and their vast and varied members. We also developed the microsite to provide a user-friendly resource. It is important to engage future partners—businesses, human resource organizations, and workforce training and higher education programs—that could grow and evolve with UpSkill America.

At the White House this spring, UpSkill America will bring together business leaders and innovators, and education and workforce development groups to showcase the commitments of those who are investing in the skills of their employees.

In addition, UpSkill America will develop publications, guides for businesses looking to “upskill” their workers, and other resources to teach businesses on how to invest in and how to promote career growth and economic opportunity for their workers. This national campaign is just getting started. Stay tuned!