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Economies and technologies shift rapidly, which at times leaves workers behind with skills that are no longer as relevant as they used to be. Employers may also have difficulty finding employees who have the skills needed to take advantage of these new technologies. The result is a skills gap, meaning that there are lots of job openings in specialized fields and plenty of people looking for work, but they are unable to find a job because they do not have the skills to work in industries that are hiring. For example, the IDC estimates that the global shortage of web developers could rise from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4 million in 2025. Similar statistics exist throughout the economy. Workers need to develop new skills to break into new industries. This is known as reskilling.My research asks the question: What works in reskilling? To answer this question, I review the academic literature and analysis from trade associations to examine best practices in reskilling workers for a changing job market. I look at ways that governments, companies, and educational institutions can help retrain displaced workers with the skills they need to stay competitive. Many large companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, retrain their employees themselves to help them move into better jobs inside and outside of the company. Government programs also play a role in reskilling workers, and I examine what qualities make those programs more effective. Generalized "workforce development" programs that many states offer do not appear to be very successful at fulfilling either the needs of workers or the companies that would hire them. In addition, I explore the strengths and weaknesses of various forms of training program funding, including loans, grants, and income share agreements.As workers are equipped with specific, industry-relevant skills, they become more valuable in the job market and find fulfilling careers more easily. State and local governments, along with program providers, should collaborate with local employers to identify the skills for which employers are most in need. According to those needs, public and private sector funds could then be allocated towards putting workers through trade schools, coding boot camps, or apprenticeship programs, each of which has high placement rates into relatively high-paying jobs. This approach lifts workers into better careers and simultaneously fills the skills gap that employers are experiencing.

Publication Date



Logan, UT


displaced workers, reskilling, retraining, skills gap


Social and Behavioral Sciences

What Works in Reskilling?