Hello again! We at I+E have been busy planning our newest vision for bringing top leaders together around the Future of Work. I am excited to see so many of you in Santa Fe next week. The weather is beautiful, and New Mexico is ready for you!
As part of our planning, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Vicki Greene this past week as we prepare to come together for the “Close It Meets Crossing the Cactus Summit” on May 2nd. Vicki will be a keynote speaker at the event, and I wanted our reader group to learn more about Vicki before we come together. Innovate+Educate has collaborated with Pearson over the past few years in multiple areas of the Future of Work, and I really was wanting to know about the work of GED Testing Service as it relates to Pearson’s overall future of work portfolio.
JB: Vicki, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I am really looking forward to having you with us in Santa Fe inext week! As I was doing a little research before our interview, I actually didn’t realize that the GED dates back to 1942. I would love you to give us a little history lesson on how GED has evolved to what it is today.
Vicki: The GED credential has been around since 1942 and it was created to support military members who served in World War 2 and were not able to complete high school. Since then, the GED test program has helped over 20 million people worldwide from all backgrounds earn a high school equivalency credential. The GED test is currently available in 41 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and is administered in over 90 countries worldwide. Every year more than 150,000 learners earn their GED credentials and take the next steps in their journey. GED graduates go on to pursue careers in every industry and attend college and universities around the world. GED graduates include doctors, lawyers, educators, nurses, actors, and more.
JB: And, Vicki, do you think that the value of the GED has changed since you began with the company? I know you have seen so many changes.
Vicki: We’ve always had a great level of pride around the GED credential and the opportunity it provides. The heart of our mission remains the same, we want to help people succeed through education. We know that the GED is a gateway to pursuing college and career goals and we’ve evolved to help learners better define what success means to them. We’ve grown to be more than a credential, we’re a learner-centric program. In 2014, we revamped the test to a computer-based format and aligned the content to match college and career readiness standards. We’ve developed numerous study tools and preparation programs that support the flexibility and different learning methods students desire. We’ve also launched an Online Proctored GED test in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing students across the U.S. to test remotely. We have and will continue to evaluate the needs of our learners and adjust however we can support them throughout their GED journey and beyond.
JB: Does your work with GED ever meet up with the employer at all? I am curious about that, as our organization is really focused on lowering barriers to employment. One of those barriers is for the employer to realize the value of a GED.
Vicki: We work directly with employers in a number of ways to educate them on the value of the GED credential and directly connect them to opportunities to offer their employees a GED. Through the GEDWorks program, we have established partnerships with over 50 employers, nonprofit organizations, and health plans to help participants earn a GED credential at no cost. Employers know that the GED credential is valuable and is an asset to their organization. By covering the costs of the GED tests and the additional support provided through the program, they are investing in their employees, workforce, and communities. Offering education benefits like this has increased retention rates and boosted employee morale. We’ve also seen a boost in employers reaching out to provide the GEDWorks program as a recruitment tool.
We also provide advisors to our students. We give them study materials, we give them tutoring, and we provide guidance. Working with these learners we know that a lot of times they may be afraid of failure. The advisor is in their camp at all times for their own success. We know that this also provides loyalty to that employer for providing this to them as an employee.
JB: Where is your company headed with your strategy? Where are your focus areas for expansion and scale? I know there must be so many connection points that our readers would be interested in!
Vicki: GED Testing Service is under Pearson’s Workforce Skills Division. Our focus is on connecting learners to credentials and employment opportunities, and we’ve also prioritized providing employers with skills assessments and other tools to invest in their workforce. Our strategy is to create pathways to careers that provide a sustainable living wage for learners while equipping employers with the knowledge needed to assess their current needs and futureproof their workforce. When it comes to employers, it is doing that through AI tools like Faethm that help with strategic workforce planning, and credentialing and certification through Credly, and TalentLens. We’re offering the GED credential and connections to affordable, online college degree programs through the Accelerated Pathways Program for learners. Each day we’re exploring how we can create stronger pathways across our organization in a way that benefits employers and learners.
Over 50% of our students are minority students. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are major tenets of what we do and guide how we serve our learners. At GED, we know that many of our learners come from historically marginalized backgrounds, and we’ve made a commitment to ensure that our test program supports their long-term goals and meets their needs. We want to put our learners on successful pathways for their future. This same focus is a priority across the Workforce Skills Division and Pearson.
JB: So Vicki, what brought you to this area of work? And, how has it impacted you in your own life?
Vicki: Education is a rewarding field and GED Testing Service is a mission-oriented organization that is committed to successful outcomes for all learners. Every day I have the opportunity to see firsthand how the GED is changing the lives of our graduates. The most important moments in my work are when I see individuals’ lives changed for their future. I find it fulfilling to do work that is invested in helping others and we have created a positive work culture with inclusivity and empathy.
JB: Looking forward to seeing you in Santa Fe next week at the Summit! Thank you so much for your time and talent in sharing with us your work.