Monika Aring: Senior Expert in Strategic Workforce Systems

I consult with donor organizations, corporations, governments and non-profits on the policies, strategies, and practices needed for developing higher skills, effective enterprises, and jobs. My work is organized around four questions:

1) how can we build more resilient, inclusive skill development learning networks,

2) where do development and business goals intersect, creating opportunities for shared investments,

3) what investment strategies are most effective in developing better learning, and higher skills, and

4) how to engage stakeholders (employers, educators, government officials, and NGOs) so they can maintain the innovations after the donor has left.


Success in my work involves being

1) highly analytical to evaluate what’s missing in a given workforce system;

2) quickly building trust to conduct accurate rapid assessments,

3) knowing how to create a white space where stakeholders are empowered to make their system more effective, and 4) effective in leading multi-discipline teams to assess, design, develop, and evaluate programs. I have worked in think tanks and as an individual consultant, often helping clients turn small investments into multi-million dollar projects. I’ve worked in 42 countries and speak 5 languages. I’m skilled in working across different cultures, listening, training others, and fostering collaborative problem solving, whether in shantytowns, government ministries, or corporate executive suites.

Summary of Projects

Workforce Development – Evaluation and Program Review

• For Aga Khan Foundation: Conduct mid-term review of the Foundation’s investment in the Asian Central University – a 3-country and foundation program to train teachers of technical schools on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, with special focus on gender mainstreaming.

• For UNESCO: identified, mapped and analyzed skills gaps across the world for UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report, researched and wrote case studies on Skills Gaps in Brazil, Egypt, India, and US, as well as a global case study summarizing data from over 100 employer reports (2011)

• For USAID: assessed Haiti’s institutional capacity to develop skills in three value chains in three regions (2011)

• For USAID: assessed Guatemala’s private partnership programs, conducting mid-term review and training (2010)

• For USAID: reviewed USAID investments in technical and vocational training and youth livelihood programs (2010)
• For Jordanian policymakers: analyzed how Jordan’s labor laws constrain biotech investments (2009);

• For the World Bank: helped experts at the World Bank better understand how corporate investments in training in emerging markets could be leveraged for tech transfer (2009)

• For the IaDB: analyzed the impact of math and science skills on the capacity for tech transfer in Sweden as compared to four LAC countries (2006)

• For the Conference Board: developed a future policy on workforce issues for the President of the Conference Board (2007-2008)

• For the Legislature of North Carolina: analyzed the effectiveness of North Carolina’s higher education system in meeting skill needs in high growth sectors and made recommendations to the Chancellors of the universities and community colleges (2005)

• For USAID: benchmarked best practice in workforce preparation across 20 countries. The resulting Guidebook and policy analysis were/are used by donors for training and programming purposes (1995-1997)

Workforce Development – Rapid Assessments

• For USAID: Co-developed USAID’s first rapid assessment protocol for workforce development in 2002 and since then have led teams of consultants in many countries to conduct rapid assessments of a country’s workforce development system, preparing findings, reports, and recommendations. (Morocco, Yemen, Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Philippines, Peru, Chile, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, USA) (2002-present)

• For Qatar Foundation and Silatech: Participated in high-level team representing Manpower Corporation to assess feasibility of launching workforce development programs in the Middle East (and North Africa. (Yemen, Morocco and Qatar)
Workforce development – training and SME development

• For IaDB: Led teams that analyzed how knowledge and know how are transferred from multi-national corporations to local suppliers. Determined skills gaps in local SME suppliers and made recommendations on how to close these (2006)

• For NSF: Advised a network on community colleges on how to spread best practice in manufacturing throughout a network of colleges and small and medium enterprises (2002-2003)

• For USAID: Developed training programs for USAID’s Global Development Alliance Division, for USAID future alliance officers, as well as for DC-based consulting groups (2010)

• For SIDA: Conducted trainings for the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) on private sector partnerships (2011)

• For Community and Technical Colleges: Developed training programs for community and technical colleges on how to improve curricula to better simulate situational learning (1998-2002)

• For Siemens, USA: Developed a training protocol for building math and science competencies to help small and medium enterprises meet quality standards. (1996-1998)

Workforce Development – Program Development and Stakeholder Mobilization Programs resulted in breakthroughs for participants who became freed up from negative past constraints and got in action upon seeing opportunities that were previously “invisible.” Used a variety of processes, including Future Search, Center for Constructive Change, Merlin, and Log Frame Analysis.

• For USAID: Designed, developed, and led a team that brought together 40 NGO’s on women’s issues in India and Pakistan to develop innovative programs to reduce the number of hours very poor women spent working. (1998)

• For USDOL: Developed one of the U.S. first Career Academes in a low income inner city high school on Cleveland’s near west side by forming a strategic alliance with a cluster of small and medium enterprises in the automotive sector (1995)

• For USAID: Designed and led a stakeholder driven process to generate skills and jobs in Peru, focusing on the growth of small and medium enterprises (1999)

• For Asian Development Bank: Designed and led a stakeholder driven process to develop a new technical education system for Kyrgyzstan (1999)

• For the NH Humanities Council, the cities of Portsmouth and Somersworth, NH. Designed, developed, and led a downtown revitalization program that won awards and was featured on National media. As a result of this program, 80 percent of the city’s small merchants were revitalized and in many cases either turned over their unproductive businesses and experienced significant growth in revenues. Program still in existence today, 35 years later!
Workforce development – leading edge research

• For Pew Charitable Trusts, USDOL and six US States Workforce Boards: Designed, raised $3 million for and co-directed empirical study on how adults learn in high performing companies. Action research teams discovered how, what, and why adults learn 28 core competencies by participating in 13 everyday work activities. (Motorola, Boeing, Ford, Siemens, Eli Lilly, McDonalds, NASA, and several SMEs.) Research was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and used as baseline for future OD and HR program development in corporations, including Microsoft. (1995-2000)

• For the German Marshall Fund of the United States: Working with the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., I designed and led a study to compare math and science requirements for entry into technical and vocational education in the US, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark. (1997-1998)

• For Germany’s Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung: Working with Germany’s Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung, I co-led a transnational forum that brought together experts from industry, universities, and governments to exchange knowledge of best practices on learning at work. (1999-2000)
Developing partnerships with private sector companies

• For the IaDB: Advised the senior leaders of the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund on forming a 10-year alliance with major corporations to close skills gaps and employ a million youth in Latin America; from 2010 to 2011

• USAID GDA: consulted with USAID’s office of Private Sector Alliances (GDA) on developing new, strategic partnerships with corporations, foundations, and USAID missions in selected countries. I identified leading corporations and worked with several to develop new, strategic alliances. (2010)

• For Microsoft, Whirlpool and First Data Corporations: Led multi-company consortia on learning journeys and working groups to learn how to see previously hidden opportunities in low income markets in the US and abroad (2004-2006)

• For Fortune 500 corporations: Led a team of eight companies including PepsiCo, ADP, State Farm, Prudential, JC Penney, and others to learn how to spot previously hidden opportunities for markets, services, and products for low-income markets. Developed immersion protocols for companies to rapidly identify new opportunities in emerging markets (2005-2006)

Policy Development

• For USDOL and Department of Education: developed national skills standards in the U.S. for entry into key economic sectors such as bioscience, and chemical engineering.

• For the World Bank, Nike, and Conference Board: analyzed how the pubic sector in developing countries can constrain companies’ ability to innovate in workforce and environmental CSR commitments. (2008-2009)

• For IaDB: Led teams that analyzed how knowledge and know how are transferred from multi-national corporations to local suppliers. Determined skills gaps in local SME suppliers and made recommendations on how to close these (2006)

Work History
Independent Consultant, 2006-present
Consultant for Corporate Partnerships. Dexis Consulting Group, under contract to USAID Office of Private Sector Alliances. (March 2010 to present)
Senior Policy Analyst, RTI, 2003-2006
Director, National Center on Education and Employment at The Ohio State University (2002-2003)
Director, Center of Workforce Development at EDC (1990-2001)
VP of Development, American Leadership Forum (1989 – 1991)
Small business owner (1980-1986)
Community Organizer and Project Director (1979 – 1988)
MPA, concentration in Business and Government, Economic Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1989.
B.A, Music, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, 1974; also studied design at Pratt Institute
B.A, German and French, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, 1972. Graduated magna cum laude.
Postgraduate education: Harvard Business School, Executive Development Program; Kennedy School of Government, Leadership Development Program
Honors and Awards
• Who’s Who in America 2000 to 2006
• Invited guest of Germany’s Bundestag for a two week visiting fellowship
• Various other civic and leadership awards
• As small business owner, was delegate to White House Conference on Small Business

Professional Associations
• President and Founding member, Seattle Society for International Development
Selected Keynote Speaker Engagements
• Keynote speaker/participant with Sweden’s Strategic Defense Council
• International Meeting of Sol and the Assizes – Paris France
• Keynote speaker for Canada’s Human Resource Development Council
• USAID Global Bureau International Conferences, Washington, DC
• APEC Meeting, Penang, Malaysia, meeting of members of Asian Pacific Economic Council on private sector-led workforce development systems
• Global Learning Conferences sponsored by Motorola; Kuala Lumpur, and Tempe, AZ
• Meeting of World Donors in Education, Nice, France
• Rand Corporation Roundtable, Role of Skills Standards in Restructuring Education and Training for Work

Bi-lingual English German, French (fluent), Spanish (conversational), Russian, (beginner)

Country Experience
• Africa: Ghana, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Morocco
• Asia: India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, India, East Timor, Thailand
• Europe: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Sweden
• South America: Chile, Honduras, Peru, Brasil
• Central America: México, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala
• Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Qatar
• Central Asia: Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
• China: Shanghai

Selected Publications – detailed list available upon request

Aring, M. and Teegarden, Bobbin. “The Billion Dollar Solution that Isn’t. How Lack of Systems Thinking in Foreign Aid is failing the poor. Journal for the Society of International Development, March 2012.

Aring, M. A review of Employer Reports on Skills Gaps. Global Case Study and four country case studies. Prepared for UNESCO, 2011.

Aring, M., Tulchin, Drew, Schkolnik, Mariana, Jadotte, Evans and “Haiti Workforce Rapid Assessment Report.” (2011) Prepared for USAID by JBS International. Report on employer skill needs and supply of skills in Haiti.

Shelp, June, and Aring, M. (2009) “Help Wanted Online.” A prospectus to help states and community colleges to identify skill needs of employers using The Conference Board’s HWOL, the first in the nation comprehensive on-line navigable d-base of job ads throughout the U.S. The Conference Board.

Aring, M. (2008) “Trade Competitiveness and Integration of Poor Countries in Global Supply Chains. A Case Study of Nike in Thailand.” World Bank and Conference Board. Analyzed what skill gaps constrain innovation, CSR and performance of Nike contract factories in Thailand.

Aring, M. (2008) “The Future Workforce.” A research prospectus on Multi-national employer skill needs. The Conference Board. (Unpublished)

Aring M. (2006) “Technology Transfer and Education in Latin America.” A 4-country comparison of how skill gaps in math and science in Latin America constrain technology transfer from Multi-national companies to local suppliers in Brazil, Costa Rica and El Salvador in the ICT sector as compared to Sweden. RTI and Hifab International for IADB.

Aring M. (2005) ” Staying a Step Ahead: Higher Education Transforming North Carolina’s Economy. RTI International for Pappas Consulting. A report for NC Legislature analyzing to what extent the state’s higher education system meets employer skill needs.

Aring M. (2005) “Learning States.” PPT Presentations to the InterAmerican Development Bank and World Bank. Analysis of skill gaps in Mexico and how they constrain bi-national and nostalgic trade with U.S.

Aring, M. (2005) Symposium on skills needed for rapid economic development – RTI International. Analysis of how Penang, Singapore, and Ireland rapidly developed the skills of the workforce for economic growth and competitiveness.

Aring, M et al. (2001) “Protocol for Rapid Appraisal of a Country’s Workforce.” USAID. Rapid Appraisal protocol for identifying employer sill needs.

Aring, M. (1999) The Teaching Firm, Where Productive Work and Learning Converge.” Presentation of Findings to Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung, Bonn.
Stamps, David (1998) “Learning Ecologies” Training Magazine Cover Article. Reviews of various learning experts from Xerox and other companies on Teaching Firm research conducted by Monika Aring and team.

Aring, M. and Brand, B. (1998). “The Teaching Firm. Where Productive Work and Learning Converge.” An empirical study on Informal Learning at High Performance Companies in the U.S. Analysis of skills learned in the workplace and skills considered important by employers in high performing companies including Motorola, Boeing, Siemens, Ford Electronics, and 3 small and mid-size companies. EDC. Inc.

Aring, M. and B. Leslie (1998). “Informal Learning in High Performance Workplaces,” Economic Development Quarterly, American Association of Community Colleges.

Aring, M. (1996). “Compass to Workforce Development.” Washington, DC: USAID. Analysis of best practice in how 20 countries develop their workforce.

Aring, M. (1996). “Guidebook to Best Practices in Workforce Development.” USAID. Training Manual for donors on workforce development.

Aring, M. (1996). Producer of “Workforce Development,” video for USAID.

Aring, M. (1996). Co Producer of “The Teaching Firm: A Report on Informal Learning at Motorola.” A report on findings at two Motorola plants – pilot site for 7-company study. EDC Inc. Prepared for Pew Memorial Trusts.

Aring, M. (1995). “Gateway to the Future.” Skill Standards for the Bioscience Industry. (US Dept. of Education and Labor). Analysis of skills needed by 800 employers in pharmaceutical, biotech, and clinical laboratories and development of skill standards for entry into the bioscience sector.

Aring, M. (1995). “Cross border Issues regarding the Development of Industry Skill Standards.” Paper presented at meeting of Ministers of NIS Countries.

Aring, M. (1993). “What the V Word (Vocational) is Costing America’s Economy,” Phi Delta Kappan.

Aring, M. (1991). “Transitions from School to Work in Germany and Denmark,” Report to the German Marshall Fund and Joyce Foundation.
Work featured on the front page of the International Herald Tribune, in the New York Times, London and Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers. Featured several times on National Public Radio.