Ryan Craig on Putting America Back to Work

Pre-pandemic, there were about 7 million unfilled jobs. This massive skill gap is now masked by the spike in unemployment that threw 30 million Americans out of work. As the economy slowly (and unevenly) recovers, the old hiring machinery will fire up. Like the last Great Recession, some people will go back to school hoping for an advantage in the job market.

Until now, most efforts to close the skills gap were, what Ryan Craig calls, “Education-Up”. Schools would hear about job growth, develop a program, and students would complete the program and then look for employment.

An expanding alternative to addressing the skill gap is “Employer-Down” which starts with intermediaries that already have relationships with dozens or hundreds of employers. They build Last-Mile Training (LMT) into pathways and that connect workers and employers.

Ryan Craig’s new fund, Achieve Partners, focuses on this Employer-Down model by investing in intermediary organization that bridge the skills gap.

Through his initiative, Putting America Back to Work, Craig plans to put 100,000 back to work by establishing frictionless pathways to good jobs–and in doing so, change the paradigm for workforce development from an education-centric to employer-centric model.

Craig wrote the book on last mile training, A New U, Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College (2018). Since writing the book, Craig said, “The need for new pathways greater than it’s ever been.”

“The models that grow fastest are the ones that reduce friction for candidate and employer,” added Craig. “We see try-before-you-buy models scaling rapidly in software development, data science, data visualization, medical device training, health IT, and medical records.

For high school seniors nervous about attending college (for safety or debt), Craig urges a gap year, finding job or doing something entrepreneurial.

Key Takeaways:
[1:15] Ryan sheds some light on what just happened to the U.S. economy.
[3:10] Ryan shares his prediction on what he believes is going to happen at colleges and universities this fall.
[6:24] Ryan shares his thoughts on whether or not he sees several colleges closing permanently due to this impact. He also shares his hopes for institutions and education leaders that want to change.
[10:17] Ryan summarizes some of his invaluable advice from his 2018 book, A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College.
[14:15] Jessica shares an important resource with listeners: the Getting Through microsite.
[14:56] If Ryan wrote a 2020 forward for A New U, what would he say or address?
[22:22] Is the federal government going to the key actor in getting America back to work? Ryan walks listeners through how states and employers can play a role in helping Americans.
[24:15] Ryan explains what University Ventures (UV) is and what they do.
[24:48] Ryan explains why he started up his newest fund, Achieve Partners, and shares what it is that they do there and how it is different from UV.
[26:35] Ryan highlights a few of the partners they have with their Achieve Partners fund.
[27:33] How corporate-connected training and these faster, cheaper alternative options are going to replace a very large percentage of traditional higher ed. He also shares the criteria that they use to determine what they are going to do next within their companies.
[31:46] Ryan gives some closing advice for high school juniors and seniors.
[33:17] Tom thanks Ryan for joining today’s episode!

Mentioned in This Episode:
University Ventures
Ryan Craig’s LinkedIn
A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, by Ryan Craig
Achieve Partners
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 160: “Last-Mile Training as an Alternative to Higher Ed with Ryan Craig”

For more see:

Stay in-the-know with innovations in learning by signing up for the weekly Smart Update.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Subscribe to Our Podcast

This podcast highlights developing trends in K-12 education, postsecondary and lifelong learning. Each week, Getting Smart team members interview students, leading authors, experts and practitioners in research, tech, entrepreneurship and leadership to bring listeners innovative and actionable strategies in education leadership.

Find us on:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.