North Carolina Joins Skillful State Network to Share Innovative Ideas on Workforce Development


North Carolina is joining a network of states committed to finding innovative ways to help prepare people for jobs so they can live better lives, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The Skillful State Network brings together 20 states to share ideas that work to create a 21st century labor market. As a leader in workforce development, North Carolina joins the network as a founding member.

“I want North Carolinians to be better educated, healthier, and have more money in their pockets so that they can live more abundant, purposeful lives,” Gov. Cooper said. “The linchpin to achieving that goal is to help people get good-paying jobs to support themselves and their families. Every state is facing economic challenges and adapting their workforce systems to overcome those challenges. We are thrilled to join the Skillful Network to learn from other states innovating in workforce development and to share our challenges and successes with them as well."

The network is convened by Skillful, an initiative of the Markle Foundation. Skillful helps employers attract and maintain the workforce they need by providing data, tools, and resources for skills-based hiring and training practices. Coaches and digital services enable job seekers to learn what skills are in demand and access training at any stage of their career. Skillful also works with employers and educators so that their training programs teach the skills required to succeed in today's economy.

North Carolina and the other states in the network will learn from each other, replicating what works in one state in others and developing new workforce development strategies to adapt to our rapidly evolving economy. One such idea came from Colorado, the first Skillful state, where Governor John Hickenlooper launched a Coaching Corps, an intensive professional development program that uses career coaches to bridge the gap between jobseekers and employers, supporting economic growth across the state.

From North Carolina, Governor Cooper highlighted NCWorks Certified Career Pathways, which give students and job seekers a roadmap to follow to a good-paying job. With 27 career pathways so far and more in development, these employer-led pathways are a collaboration between the Pre-K-12 system, community colleges and local workforce teams to help North Carolinians get good-paying jobs in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing and IT.

“Millions of Americans need to get connected to the skills and the jobs of our fast-changing digital economy,” said Zoe Baird, CEO and President of the Markle Foundation. “The Skillful State Network was born out of the tremendous interest we’ve received from other states based on our work in Colorado. Governors have asked me to bring Skillful to their state and forming the Skillful State Network is a way to share our approach, tools and assets quickly. It also allows all of us to build on the great work being done in these states. States have always been laboratories for innovation and today are leading the transformation to the digital economy."

This week, Gov. Cooper announced his priorities for workforce development in North Carolina, NC Job Ready. Cooper’s initiative is built on three core principles: skills and education attainment so North Carolinians are ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow, employer leadership to remain relevant to evolving industry needs, and local innovation to take great ideas and apply them statewide. 

For more information about the Skillful Network, see Skillful’s press release or visit 


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