The Workforce Education Project (preliminary report) | MIT J-WEL

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The Workforce Education Project (preliminary report)

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  • Bill Bonvillian
    Lecturer, Science Technology and Society and Political Science Departments, and Senior Director, Special Projects MIT
  • Sanjay Sarma
    Vice President for Open Learning Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Meghan Perdue
    Digital Learning Fellow School of Humanities, Arts and Social Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jenna Myers
    Doctoral candidate, MIT Sloan Massachusetts Institute of Technology


In 2018, MIT Open Learning launched the Workforce Education Project. Many of the programs Open Learning has been developing in recent years concerns the workforce, including its online courses, MicroMasters certificate programs, xPRO professional courses with employers, J-WEL research, and Bootcamps. We wanted an in-depth understanding of the scope, quality, and efficacy of workforce education as it currently stands, to better calibrate our programs and further research to meet specific, timely needs.

The Workforce Education Project has released an initial report that focuses on problems in the current U.S. workforce education system and in our accompanying labor market information system, the role universities could play in workforce education, new education technologies that could help us meet the scale required for workforce solutions, new apprenticeship programs, and a range of new models and policies that could help in delivering workforce content.

The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is going to change work in a number of industries. This preliminary report outlines the status and needs of a national workforce operating in a rapidly evolving technological and sociopolitical landscape. As long-term changes following the pandemic start to emerge in different sectors, employers and policymakers will benefit from embracing flexibility and new ideas.

The following are working papers that provide backup studies that inform this report:

Employer Engagement In College and Career Pathways in Middle Tennessee

Employer-Provided Training in Two Manufacturing Firms

Out of Tolerance: Worker Voice in The Digital Factory

Technology Mediated Education Delivery

Workforce Training and Development in Massachusetts


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