Cheryl Oldham Cheryl Oldham
Former Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Former Vice President, Education & Workforce Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Lydia Logan Lydia Logan
Global Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, IBM


May 17, 2024


Emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), are transforming every aspect of life by enhancing productivity and opening doors to new opportunities. These advancements respond directly to the evolving needs of the workforce, a critical topic at the annual ASU+GSV Summit, where thought leaders, educators, and industry experts convene to tackle society's biggest challenges. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and IBM are at the forefront, harnessing technology, and business to empower communities globally. At this year’s Summit, we discussed the vital topic of AI's impact on the future of work and the essential role of skills-based strategies, in shaping a stronger, inclusive, and competitive future workforce.

Examining the skills-first landscape

The movement is gaining momentum, driven by technological advancements, the skills gap, and a shrinking workforce. How do we ensure equitable learning opportunities for all? By integrating skills-based credentials into talent pathways, we open doors for millions of today’s learners and tomorrow’s workers.

Initiatives like the T3 Innovation Network, exemplify this shift by uniting leaders across industries and sectors to explore and adopt new ideas and tools like Learning and Employment Records (LERs). Through convening and collaboration, we are responding by listening to insights from those most affected by these changes.

The skills-first model and AI’s role

How does this skills-first movement intersect with the rise of AI? Study after study reveals the skills shortages that are growing each day with the adoption of new technologies:

  • A recent global study by IBM Institute of Business Value, suggests that AI and automation will require 40% of their workforce to reskill over the next three years, affecting primarily entry-level positions and creating demand for new roles.
  • The World Economic Forum echoes this sentiment forecasting job growth in AI-related fields like information security analysis, data science, and sustainability.
  • Nearly 75% of companies surveyed for the WEF report expect AI to foster job growth.

This transformation places immense pressure on companies to adapt swiftly, making a skills-first approach—a strategy that values competencies over degrees—increasingly relevant. It also emphasizes the critical role of business in the adoption of digital credentialing to ensure all learning is acknowledged across industries.

Training the next-generation of AI leaders

As with any technological leap, it’s important that we consider how AI advances are impacting many communities, and that we take steps to ensure equitable access. IBM has committed to train two million learners in AI in three years. This commitment demonstrates the power of business-led solutions rooted in embracing innovation and driving purpose and community impact.   

IBM SkillsBuild offers courses in 20 local languages, providing learners with accessible training that provides a deeper understanding of course materials, to help ensure completion and professional competency for all learners. Most important, participants earn recognized IBM-branded digital credentials.

Driving change cannot be achieved alone; it requires the support of partners and collaborators, and strong networks. In March, IBM collaborated with Usher’s New Look® non-profit to provide AI and professional skills training to thousands of young learners through IBM SkillsBuild, offering customized learning plans.

U.S. Chamber Foundation partnered with Education Design Lab and other AI and LER leaders on Experience You. This initiative assesses technological capabilities, addresses gaps, promotes workforce readiness by ensuring that all learning counts. Utilizing AI, it empowers learners and workers with the ability to convert their past experiences and achievements into digital, skills-based records that better communicates what they know and their abilities. It focuses on three areas: unemployed individuals, incumbent workers, and veterans, considering equity in LER creation and implementation. 

Looking Forward: Working Together for a Stronger Tomorrow 

The potential impact of AI across every community underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to ensure equitable access to AI advances and education. As we look to the future, the critical role of AI in the workforce highlights the need for ongoing collaboration among businesses, educational institutions, and innovators. This collective effort is vital for investing in and shaping the evolving landscape of work sustained through dialogue and partnership. 

The U.S. Chamber Foundation and IBM continue to champion these essential discussions and collaborations, addressing the challenges and opportunities AI and digital transformation present to create a more inclusive and adaptable workforce.


Join the T3 Innovation Network

Join the movement! Click below to become a member of the T3 Innovation Network, a community of thought leaders moving the needle on workforce innovation and digital transformation.

About the authors

Cheryl Oldham

Cheryl Oldham

Cheryl A. Oldham was senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and vice president of education and workforce policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Read more

Lydia Logan

Lydia Logan

Lydia Logan leads IBM's community and university skilling initiatives that create more inclusive and effective schools and workforces.

Read more