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Onward and Upward! The Great Skills Revolution
There’s a lot that’s been said and written recently about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Employee Experience Revolution. Concurrent to these is the Great Skills Revolution — and it affects us all, both as individuals and as organizations.

According to the University of Phoenix’s 2022 Career Optimism Index, 52 percent of American workers say they are easily replaceable in their current position, and 41 percent worry about losing their jobs. And while employers seem to understand this, the disconnect is still significant: They fail to understand how acute employees' need for career advocates is and how limited skill development opportunities are. However, it’s encouraging to note that 68 percent of workers say they would stay in their jobs if there were more opportunities to upskill.

The need to rethink existing skill-development frameworks isn’t just driven by skill gaps and the shorter half-life of skills, which will only continue to shrink as we move forward into the incredibly fast-changing workplace of the future; it’s also a way to drive value and happiness for employees, gaining their loyalty and commitment during talent shortages and the Great Resignation — and an evolved education program, where skills development and advocacy are prioritized, is absolutely critical in achieving this goal.

Join CLO for this conversation among learning leaders who are leveraging skills development as the connecting tissue between employee growth and motivation, the roles that employers need to fill, and the learning content needed to fill existing knowledge gaps.


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Raghu Krishnaiah
Chief Operating Officer @University of Phoenix
Raghu Krishnaiah is an innovative leader experienced at turning transformative products and business concepts into successful global companies. His career as a seasoned change agent and strategist spans more than 20 years of progressive P&L management, strategy, sales and marketing, product development, operations, technology and board responsibilities. Krishnaiah serves as the chief operating officer at University of Phoenix, where he is instrumental in the transformation of the university and responsible for all operating strategy and results. Before joining University of Phoenix, Krishnaiah held the role of chief operating officer at Western Governors University, where he led significant growth in student learning outcomes.
Raul Almazan
Senior Manager, Engineering Learning and Research Services @Raytheon Technologies
Raul Almazan has over 25 years of leadership, professional learning and talent management experience. After a career as an officer in the U.S. Army, Raul led systems and learning teams at Intuit, the makers of TurboTax® and QuickBooks®. In 2009, he joined Raytheon Missile Systems to lead five key talent management initiatives. In 2011 he was selected to lead the engineering learning strategy, manage annual multimillion-dollar training investments and execute technical, leadership, onboarding and advanced degree learning solutions. In 2020, a merger resulted in Raul being chosen to lead an elite team of learning professionals and research specialists as part of the new Raytheon Missiles and Defense organization within Raytheon Technologies. His leadership challenge is to grow critical capabilities and future talent pipelines for aerospace engineers within the swirl of an aging workforce, rapidly emerging technologies and daunting global threats.
Nathan Jones
Vice President of Product for Workforce Solutions @University of Phoenix
In his more than 19 years with the University of Phoenix, Nathan has held leadership roles in employee development, enrollment management, academic operations, product leadership and workforce solutions. He now combines that experience with the unique capabilities of University of Phoenix to deliver a range of talent acquisition, upskilling and employee development solutions for employers. In recent years, Nathan brought the first “Degreed Apprenticeship” career pathway in IT to the University of Phoenix in partnership with Woz-U Enterprises, creating a new talent pipeline of skilled IT professionals for employers. He also led the rapid expansion of the Manpower Accelerator Program offered by Manpower Staffing to provide over 2,000 COVID-displaced workers access to workshops that reskilled them for in-demand jobs, while earning college credit at no cost.
Jennifer Buchanan
Vice President, Operations and Supply Chain Academy Leader @Walmart Inc.
Jennifer Buchanan leads Operations and Supply Chain Academy at Walmart, where she is responsible for designing learning experiences to enable associates to build skills for now and the future. Jennifer joined Walmart in 2015, leading the international ethics, compliance and global anti-corruption training and awareness team for 4.5 years. She then joined Sam’s Club, leading the field learning team for three years. At Sam’s Club she led the design of the flow of work learning program, providing learning experiences to associates on the sales floor. Prior to Walmart, Jennifer led the regulatory compliance training program at American Express and held training and staff positions for the Department of Defense at Ramstein Air Base Germany, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and Department of Veterans Affairs. Jennifer was the vice chair of the Walmart SERVES associate resource group and the learning pillar lead for Walmart Military Programs Governance.
Savern Varnado
Director of Organizational Learning @Rexel USA
Savern Varnado serves as the director of organization learning at Rexel USA, where his responsibilities include leadership and oversight of the learning and development of more than 4,000 employees. Savern also leads Rexel USA’s diversity efforts and its committee, 2gether4change. He’s a member of IBH’s (I Belong Here) advisory board and is committed to his role to make the electrical distribution industry more diverse and inclusive. Savern is also credentialed with the Certified Professional in Talent Development, issued by ATD.