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Walmart Awards $1M to Grads of Life to Drive Greater Measurement and Adoption of Skills-First Talent Practices for Employers

Investment will scale adoption of Grads of Life’s Impact Measurement Framework as the first-of-its-kind set of guidelines to help employers consistently track, evaluate and adopt skills-first talent practices that deliver business value and advance DEI.

Grads of Life, an initiative of national workforce development organization Year Up, announced a $1M grant from Walmart to scale its Impact Measurement Framework that helps employers better measure and adopt skills-first talent practices. 

Grads of Life helps companies create equitable skills-first talent strategies that drive economic opportunity and mobility in America. Over the past two years, Grads of Life – in partnership with members of the Business Roundtable and other leading corporate champions – developed an Impact Measurement Framework to provide employers with specific metrics to track the impact their skills-first talent practices have on their businesses.

The Impact Measurement Framework creates a way for employers to begin to understand how specific practices (for example, eliminating degree requirements) improve outcomes for businesses, underrepresented talent, and communities. Since its inception, the framework has been featured in various events, business convenings and publications, leading to more than 100 companies beginning to strategize how to incorporate the metrics at their organizations. Grads of Life’s latest report, Growing The Skills-First Employment Movement Through Measurementis a deeper dive into the value of the framework, including its methodology, structure and benefits.

Companies across the Fortune 1000 are increasingly adopting skills-first talent practices to attract, win and retain talent in what continues to be a tight and competitive labor market. Tangible business benefits include expanding and diversifying a company’s talent pool, the ability to fill open roles more quickly and at a lower cost, plus greater internal talent mobility, which reduces onboarding time and helps a company fill senior roles with employees who already know its culture.

With the third significant investment from Walmart to scale this work, Grads of Life will develop a targeted communications strategy with key partners to build on the excitement about using key metrics, further establishing the tool as a standard guideline for measuring success with skills-first practices. Efforts will include developing a shortlist of the highest priority metrics companies should be consistently reporting on, empowering HR leaders with tools to integrate those metrics into their HR systems, and solving for common tactical challenges like HR software compatibility.  

Grads of Life will continue to publish a set of case studies, reports and white papers on the Framework, to accelerate adoption.

“The Framework has already garnered so much excitement from leading employers given how it has equipped them to capture the value of talent practices that focus on skills, not degrees,” said Patti Constantakis, Director, Corporate Philanthropy at Walmart. “Data captured on this value to-date has been quite compelling, and I’m very excited for the Framework to continue to support the growing shift toward more rigorous measurement in this space.”

“Successful businesses know how to collect and analyze complex data they do it every day, whether it is measuring earnings or tracking inventory. Now is the time for companies that are committed to being skills-first employers to apply that same rigor to this work, and adopt the Framework as part of their standard practice,” says Elyse Rosenblum, Managing Director & Founder, Grads of Life. 

The Working Group that created the Framework, led by Grads of Life and IBM, included representatives from Walmart, IBM, Accenture, American Express, CF Industries, Chevron, JPMorgan Chase, Medtronic, Pepsico, Target, and Vistra Corp. The working group was created as part of the Business Roundtable’s Multiple Pathways Initiative.