In 2018, MIT Open Learning launched the Workforce Education Project. Many of the programs Open Learning has been developing in recent years concerns the workforce, including its online courses, MicroMasters certificate programs, xPRO professional courses with employers, J-WEL research, and Bootcamps. We wanted an in-depth understanding of the scope, quality, and efficacy of workforce education as it currently stands, to better calibrate our programs and further research to meet specific, timely needs.

The Workforce Education Project has released an initial report that focuses on problems in the current U.S. workforce education system and in our accompanying labor market information system, the role universities could play in workforce education, new education technologies that could help us meet the scale required for workforce solutions, new apprenticeship programs, and a range of new models and policies that could help in delivering workforce content.


The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is going to change work in a number of industries. This preliminary report outlines the status and needs of a national workforce operating in a rapidly evolving technological and sociopolitical landscape. As long-term changes following the pandemic start to emerge in different sectors, employers and policymakers will benefit from embracing flexibility and new ideas.

Preliminary Report - The Workforce Education Project

The following are working papers that provide backup studies that inform this report:

Employer Engagement In College and Career Pathways in Middle Tennessee

Employer-Provided Training in Two Manufacturing Firms

Out of Tolerance: Worker Voice in The Digital Factory

Technology Mediated Education Delivery

Workforce Training and Development in Massachusetts


Additional information and news:

MIT News, “Workforce Education Project details how Covid-19 upends assumptions."
Report finds that higher education institutions can play a significant role in reforming workforce education, April 28, 2020

Research Brief for the MIT Work of the Future project: Sanjay Sarma and William B. Bonvillian, Applying New Education Technologies to Meet Workforce Education Needs
MIT Work of the Future research brief, October 2020

MIT News, “3 Questions: Sanjay Sarma and Bill Bonvillian on new technologies in workforce education"
Discussion of their Research Brief from MIT Work of the Future, November 2, 2020

Podcast on the Workforce Education Project from Prof. Patrick O’Shea of Appalachian State Univ. with Sanjay Sarma and William B. Bonvillian (Versalist podcast for the Immersive Learning Research Network ), November 23, 2020

Video on Workforce Education Needs in the Retail Sector - MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) presentation by Sanjay Sarma and William Bonvillian, December 15, 2020


Issues in Science and Technology, "America Needs A New Workforce Education System," March 9, 2021