Reports
January 29, 2020

Upskilling with Talent Pipeline Management (TPM)

Upskilling with TPM


In a dynamic labor market, companies large and small recognize the need to invest in their own people, leading to much buzz around upskilling. Upskilling strategies are no longer the exception, but a necessity. 

The U.S. Chamber Foundation has defined upskilling as:

Employers must foster a new relationship with workers where maintaining and growing their skills is an imperative for business success. 

In 2014, the Chamber Foundation launched Talent Pipeline Management (TPM), a workforce development strategy that applies supply chain management principles to talent. TPM builds the capacity of the business community to better manage career pathways so that students and workers have better employment opportunities. We have seen the TPM process work for industries including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, utilities, and information technology. More than 250 TPM practitioners have graduated from the TPM Academy, a customized TPM train-the-trainer model, and as a result of their first-hand feedback, TPM resources continue to expand and improve. 

The early priority of TPM was to focus on external hiring pipelines. Now, TPM has been tested and applied for upskilling as well. 

Employers need to fill higher-level jobs, improve employee retention rates, and decrease the time required for an employee to reach full productivity. For these challenges, upskilling strategies are critical but there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Like with any business strategy, leaders must first accurately diagnose the problem before jumping to conclusions or solutions. The TPM approach promotes just that via a structured process that results in evidence-based decision making. 

In 2019, the Chamber Foundation convened a review committee of tried-and-true TPM practitioners, industry experts, and upskill specialists to update and expand the TPM Academy curriculum with a keen eye to upskilling strategies. Committee members, particularly those TPM practitioners who had implemented upskilling solutions via TPM, identified key considerations and processes for employer collaboratives focused on upskill efforts. 

The result is an enhanced guidebook for implementing end-to-end talent supply chains. Perhaps the most intriguing outcome was the realization that any company experiencing talent challenges ultimately must incorporate both external and internal hiring strategies. This resource is available to the public so that any organization interested has access to these practices.

The goal of this report and the revised curriculum is to amplify the understanding and adoption of TPM to support upskilling efforts, as well as help those who have successfully implemented TPM for external hires to now bridge their efforts into upskilling.