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Talent Development Pioneer Acquires Online College to Close Middle-Skill Gaps

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Penn Foster’s Acquisition of Ashworth College Creates Continuum for Middle-Skill Learning That Extends from High School to the World of Work; Will Help Employers Bridge Skill and Equity Gaps in High-Growth Fields

Penn Foster, which partners with leading employers to attract, develop, and retain talent for middle-skill jobs, announced its acquisition of Ashworth College, an accredited online institution offering degree and certificate programs in fast-growing fields, as well as high school diplomas.

“We’re creating a continuum for skills development and training built for a future where stackable, lifelong learning is an economic imperative,” said Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster. “Through deep integration with employers, we’re bridging the gap between education and economic opportunity across dynamic, rapidly shifting local labor markets.”

According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States and in each of the 50 states. Recent reports, however, confirm that employers throughout the country are often unable to find trained workers to fill these jobs.

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“We’re already seeing automation and emerging technology reshape the nature of work, especially for entry-level and frontline employees in fields like retail,” said Laurie Larrea, president of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. “Penn Foster’s investment in the development of new pathways for learners enables us to respond to changes in our local economy by helping employers identify untapped talent, and providing job-seekers with both the hard and soft skills they need to compete.”

The high school, career, and degree programs of Ashworth College focus on high-growth middle-skilled career fields from nursing and community health to graphic design and business. The institution’s unique online community enables students to access academic assistance resources, career guidance, and other support services.

“Penn Foster shares our commitment to designing programs that matter to our most important stakeholder — students,” said Robert Klapper, CEO of Ashworth College. “Their model and mission will enable us to deepen our collaboration with employer partners in ways that allow Ashworth College students to expand their opportunities and career pathways.”

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Through partnerships with leading employers and workforce organizations including Penske Corporation, EmployBridge, the National Retail Federation, and Banfield Pet Hospital, part of the Mars Incorporated family of companies, Penn Foster’s self-paced curriculum in fast-growing middle-skill fields, including allied health, skilled trade, and retail/hospitality, is utilized by thousands of students each year.

“The workplace is changing for employers and job-seekers alike,” said Deval Patrick, Managing Director at Bain Capital Double Impact and a member of Penn Foster’s Board of Directors. “This combination helps Penn Foster reach more employers looking to build stronger workforces and more workers looking to build better futures for themselves.”

While the combination of the two institutions will create significant new opportunities for students and other institutional stakeholders, the transaction will have no impact on courses and programs offered to current students.

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