In July 2018, President Donald Trump launched the Pledge to America’s Workers initiative aimed at increasing the private sector’s role in training American workers for American jobs. By signing the pledge, organizations committed to creating new or enhanced education and training opportunities for American students and workers, and became eligible for an associated award (only organizations that signed the pledge were eligible). Since the pledge launch, more than 430 companies, trade associations, and unions have signed on, committing to over 16 million job training opportunities over the next five years.
The Baldrige Program was asked to lead the effort to design and implement the new Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award, intended to recognize excellence in workforce education and training thereby encouraging other organizations to do the same. Collaboration and support came from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Labor, and the White House.
The criteria for the new award were based on the Organizational Profile and Workforce category of the 2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework: Proven Leadership and Management Practices for High Performance. As part of a 10-page application, organizational award applicants answered questions that focused on the importance of results.
Applicants were asked to demonstrate their excellence in skill-based training programs through measurable outcomes, how the training benefits workers in a strategic sector or across the organization, and how it connects to broader strategic priorities and performance goals. The training was expected to be free for participants, replicable, and scalable across the organization.
In addition to a non-rated Organizational Context section, the application was divided into three sections:
Federal employees, primarily pulled from the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Labor, comprised the evaluators for the award. A four-hour virtual training for evaluators used the 2018 Baldrige Case Study: Green Gateway.
At the award ceremony on September 23, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said,
The presidential award presented today is rooted in NIST's Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which was established under President Reagan to acknowledge American businesses that adopt a wide range of industry best practices, including workforce education and training.
The Baldrige Program looks at organizations holistically, and it emphasizes the need to show actual results. Consistent with these principles, the nine Pledge to America's Workers Presidential Award Winners are delivering results to their workers. . . . Many have curricula that reach high school children to introduce them to new careers, as well as programs that help mature workers continue advancing in their careers.
Nine organizations won the inaugural Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award for their excellence in workforce education and training:
According to Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, "Nine incredible organizations and of course private-sector companies who are receiving the inaugural Pledge to America's Workers prov[e] that investing in the workforce is the country's greatest asset by far and is not just an activity that feels good, it's also smart business…. [This is] accelerating the trend to make sure that the American worker has the skills for the jobs that exist today and the jobs of the future."
To learn more about how your organization can sign the pledge, email WORKFORCEpledge [at] who.eop.gov ().