the SHIFT awards


Innovate+Educate and the SHRM New Mexico State Council are proud to join together as partners to announce the National SHIFT Awards. We see a shift happening: in the way organizations assess, identify, and develop talent, thus creating new opportunities for the existing and potential workforce.

The SHIFT Awards are designed to recognize employers who are shifting from traditional hiring, assessment, training and advancement methods to create new paths to employment, training and economic opportunities. These new paths may:

  • Focus on invisible or otherwise overlooked populations
  • Determine new and more relevant job requirements that expand opportunities to more candidates
  • Create new methods of assessing candidate skill sets
  • Provide innovative learning pathways to skill up current employees and candidates
  • Develop a diverse, work-ready pipeline of talent
  • Bridge the skills gap


Employers who have challenged the status quo when it comes to hiring and workforce development practices, creating programs with significant outcomes in regard to hiring or workforce development.  We’re interested in innovations that connect unemployed and underserved Americans to new paths to employment, training, and economic opportunity that bypass traditional requirements. We are seeking programs that demonstrate high levels of creativity and provide a solution to one or more workforce challenges.  Special consideration will be given to programs serving special populations (i.e. minorities, persons with disabilities, veterans, military spouses/partners, formerly incarcerated individuals, etc.). All U.S. employers of any size are eligible to compete in this program. Employers who have partnered with workforce development practitioners, community services, schools or government agencies in developing their innovative strategies may enter on behalf of the partnership.


Employers are encouraged to self-nominate by completing the application process. Individuals with knowledge of an outstanding initiative may nominate an organization by clicking here. 

  • Demonstrate and share your own SHIFT from traditional approaches to the use of innovative strategies to seek new employees, train your workforce, and close the skills gap.
  • Inspire other organizations and build the momentum!
  • Winner(s) will receive special recognition at the 2019 Close It Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, October 15th-16th, 2019.
  • Winning submissions will be shared as part of an idea exchange on the Innovate+Educate and SHRM NM websites.
  • Winners will be recognized in a press release.

In addition, top level award winners will be provided with one complimentary registration to the Close It Summit in 2020. The winner(s) will be announced at the awards presentation at the 2019 conference.


This is a multi-level award that recognizes fledgling projects to well-established practices with measured results. We will consider size and scope of the initiative and the organization, potential or proven impact, partnerships or community involvement, and replicability.  Additional consideration will be given to those programs that focus on special populations such as persons with disabilities, veterans, military spouses/partners, and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Judges will consider the following:

  • Why the program was created, the need and/or challenge to be overcome, and the
  • How the program was implemented, who participated, and the methods used, including community partnerships, if any.
  • Challenges encountered along the way, and how they were
  • Responses and support from leadership and
  • The program effectiveness and results achieved by implementing the
  • The impact, if any, to the promotion of a diverse


Complete submissions must be received by September 6, 2019 in order to be considered. Supporting materials must be uploaded and submitted with your application.

Winners will be announced at the Close It Summit on October 16 at the Santa Fe Convention Center in Santa Fe, NM. The awards presentation will be hosted by Jamai Blivin, CEO, Innovate+Educate, and Sean Sullivan, Chief HR Officer, Society for Human Resource Management.

Our panel of judges includes human resources experts and business leaders. If you have any questions please contact us at

Apply now or explore application here.

Applications open through September 6, 2019.


We welcome you to nominate an innovation. We will contact the employer and encourage them to apply.


Close It is the leading Employment Tech Summit in the nation. Now in its sixth year, it is a unique venue for engagement where thought partners and industry leaders gain insights and understand the forces impacting The Shift in competency-based learning and employment ecosystems. Traditional pathways and education are no longer connecting workers to jobs, nor employers to workers with the right skills. Close It explores the many challenges bringing about The Shift and the landscape of players involved in creating pathways to high-value employment.

Be sure to register and be at CLOSE IT 2019 in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Shift Awards and much more excellent content on the CRITICAL SHIFT: Work. Learn.Tech.

Register for CLOSE IT 2019


Innovate+Educate is a nonprofit focused on shifting training, hiring, and advancement strategies to ensure the over 100 million low-income workers are provided access to learning and employment leading to lifelong economic success. Our work is big system change that will support economic mobility for workers and their families. Our team believes in a system shift that will open pathways to career success for millions of individuals while providing employers a much-needed qualified workforce.

Learn more about Innovate+Educate at

The SHRM New Mexico State Council is an affiliate of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the leading membership association for over 250,000 human resources professionals worldwide. SHRM New Mexico is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization whose primary objective is to support and further the human resource profession in New Mexico. We represent over 1,500 Human Resource Professionals in the state of New Mexico.

Learn more about SHRM NM at