Unemployment in New England is at or near record low rates exacerbating a persistent skill shortage reported by employers across the region. In a recent McKinsey survey, executives increasingly see investing in retraining and “upskilling” existing workers as an urgent business priority. With New England’s share of fast-growing, high-skill industries wherein available jobs largely require a postsecondary credential, upskilling is an essential tool that nearly all businesses need to employ to ensure a greater skills match while improving employee retention and work product. Strada’s Consumer Insights Data indicates that adults in New England with no college experience are most likely to feel as if they need additional education to advance in the workforce–the call for meaningful educational programs exists in the region.

For successful implementation of upskilling programs, collaboration and alignment between New England’s educators and employers is imperative. As a first step to addressing these issues, NEBHE will convene a regional thinkers’ meeting and subsequently produce a white paper that will serve as the basis for state level briefings that will generate momentum around creating and developing successful upskilling programs and policies.


Target Population

Adults with no postsecondary degree and who do not earn a family-sustaining wage (in New England, 5.5 million adults over 25 do not hold a postsecondary degree and a family-sustaining wage is approximately $65,000).

Target Industries

Healthcare, Life and biosciences, business and financial operations, and information technology.


NEBHE and its partners seek to:

  • Understand and capitalize on the strengths of a regional consumer insights perspective and opportunities to build cross-state communities of practice to upskill New England’s mobile population.

  • Identify emerging best practices and opportunities for scaling successful institution and employer partnerships and state policies.

  • Determine the needs and capacities of workers, employers and higher education institutions to implement new practices and needed transformation.