Touching Tomorrow Symposium II

November 16 and 17, 2018 | Kansas City, Missouri

Our workforce is changing more rapidly than our education systems can support. Innovations at every level of industry demand skills and training more, better, faster. The mantra of “go to college to get a job” is morphing into “get the real-world training you need to get hired faster.”

Emily Griffith Foundation, along with its partners, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Annie E Casey Foundation, and the Markle Foundation hosted the Touching Tomorrow Symposium II on November 16 and 17 in Kansas City, Missouri at the Kauffman Foundation Campus.

TTII is a follow up to the Touching Tomorrow Symposium held in November 2016 in Vail, Colorado. One of the key findings of that gathering was the recognition that industry, educators and students are not speaking to one another nor speaking the same language when it comes to workforce education.

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Emily Griffith Foundation is dedicated to thought leadership around rethinking higher education, and to that end, led in organizing TTII. This year’s Symposium had 10 C-level participants from major corporations across the U.S. who are invested in middle-skill training and employment.

Joining them in roundtable discussions, we also heard from a mix of HR executives, educators and job placement officers.

TTII focused on the three P’s of prosperity: perception of technical education, pathways to careers and placement in the workforce of the future.

The special report includes a framework for ongoing regional dialogue and a call to action for educators and employers, as well as students and parents. How industry, educators and job placement officers shape the future of workforce education was the focus of three heterogeneous moderated panels on day one and the thirty-person conversation on day two.

Moderated by Anya Kamenetz, NPR’s lead education writer, and Jeff Barratt, Emily Griffith Technical College’s former Executive Director/CEO, each conversation focused on a critical issue facing participants in the journey towards an effective workforce of the future. For example:

  • How will robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other disruptive technologies change the skills needed for the future workforce?

  • How can the educational delivery system adapt for the “new collar” worker?

  • How do stackable credentials, certifications, credit for prior learning, P-Tech apprenticeships, transferable skills and “quick start” readiness integrate with current eco-systems?

  • How do we as leaders “move the needle” on the perception of workforce education to be seen once again as a viable pathway to a sustainable career and a foothold into the middle class?



2018 Roundatble TOPICS


The negative perception held by students and parents around technical education is a key impediment to providing comprehensive career pathway guidance for high school students.

Roundtable topics include:

  • Parents and Perception: Combating the stigma of vocational education

  • Alignment of K-12, Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Systems: Do we need a new textbook?


The K12 and continuing education system must be in alignment with industry and future workforce needs that provide actionable pathways for students.

Roundtable topics include:

  • Upskilling: Creating a Comprehensive Apprenticeships, Certifications, and Stackable credentials

  • The Future of Work: How can we prepare students for the jobs of the future?


While employers are mapping the futures of their respective businesses, the future of work must be reimagined to keep pace with workplace innovation. This roundtable will explore the meaningful role employers can play in preparing the workforce of the future, while creating real value within their businesses:

Roundtable topics include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Not Required: How can industry and education fight credential inflation?

  • Employers, Apprenticeships, and ROI