Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

Upskilling America Without Skipping Any Steps

By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsBy AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, the White House hosted the Upskill Summit, part of the administration’s initiative to help Americans receive the training they need to find better jobs and increase their wages (or “upskill”). The Summit gathered representatives from corporations, nonprofits, unions, and technology companies from across the country to share best practices and ways they plan on helping entry-level employees gain the skills they need to be competitive in a 21st century, globalized economy.

Employers committed to providing access to professional development opportunities that don’t require employees to leave their jobs. Many families cannot afford to have their wage-earners go back to school full-time. Corporations, like Gap, Inc., McDonalds, and Walmart, have expanded their partnerships with online educational organizations. By taking courses with organizations like LearnUp, Udacity, and Cengage Learning, employees can earn credentials and the skills they need to move up the corporate ladder.

As you can imagine these web-based apps are meaningless if the intended audience doesn’t have the tools they need to access them. The initiative’s success rests on each participant having a computer and access to reliable, high-speed Internet at home.

That’s why EveryoneOn participated in the summit. We understand the importance of not skipping any steps and making sure all employees have the basic tools they need to take advantage of these resources. That’s why we suggest both employees and employers do the following:

  1. Understand your needs. Do you have Internet at home? Do you have access to a computers? Mobile Internet, although convenient and valuable, may not meet the needs of everyone seeking additional professional development training. Data caps may make the service cost-prohibitive, while many online tools are not optimized to be used with your cell phone.Employers can also help by surveying their employees and identifying those who may need assistance.
  2. Know your options. EveryoneOn has low-cost Internet and computer options in 48 states and the District of Columbia. By visiting EveryoneOn.org/adulted, you can find Internet service for as low as $10 a month. You can also text ‘adulted’ to 215-45.The most well-known low-cost Internet service programs through Cox and Comcast require you to have a child enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. EveryoneOn has wireless Internet options through companies likes FreedomPop and Basic Internet for those without children, but still need affordable service.
  3. Act now! EveryoneOn offers solutions for unconnected households they can take advantage of now. We can also work with employers to find ways for them to subsidize Internet service or the purchase of devices for their employees.

We’re excited about the promise of the White House’s Upskilling initiative. We must not, however, neglect the needs of unconnected households that need to take advantage of these online resources. As we begin “upskilling” millions of Americans, we need to make sure they have the basic tool they need: affordable, high-speed Internet access.


Sheila Dugan is the chief marketing officer at EveryoneOn. Follow her on Twitter at @SheilaLD.