On December 12, 2016, the Community Foundation shared Greater Washington Works: IT and Health Careers with Promise with over 125 nonprofit, funder, business and government stakeholders. The report examines the state of our regional middle-skill IT and Healthcare talent pipeline including information on hiring challenges and factors keeping local worker from launching new careers in these high growth sectors.
In addition to the launch of the report, a request for proposals, Greater Washington Works, was released to provide two-year grants of up to $250,000 to train and place local workers in high growth occupations in IT and/or Health. Proposals, due on March 6, will seek to address the skills gap in those two sectors implementing the national best practice of sector partnerships.
In her welcome remarks on December 12, Courtney Strauss, Executive Director and Senior Banker with JPMorgan Chase Private Bank, provided interested applicants the key ingredients of addressing the nation’s middle skills gap and effectively serving job seekers as well as employers.
Given the state of today’s labor market, here are three effective strategies we’ve seen for addressing the middle skills gap:
The first thing we have seen is that communities must have an effective strategy to engage employers. We have to remember that the skills gap is as much, if not more, a demand side problem as it is a supply-side problem. Many of these demand side problems are the result of what we call “weak signaling” – in other words, employers don’t do a very good job of communicating exactly what skills they need. Other problems are the result of a collection action challenge—employers don’t want to invest in training or collaborate with other firms in their sector because they are afraid a competitor will poach a worker they have just invested in.
Second, on the supply side, the challenge is most aptly captured by Labor Secretary Perez’s quip that the problem with the U.S. Workforce System is that is based on the principle of “train and pray”—invest in education and pray that there’s a job on the other side. But around the country, we are seeing smart new programs that offer an antidote to training for training’s sake by aligning with employer demand, organizing around career pathways, and providing contextualized learning.
One final category of activity to put on the list of strategies to build a talent pipeline is what I like to think of as the glue that holds it all together. This is the information and infrastructure that enables ongoing alignment between labor market supply and demand.
Through its investments in local workforce development partnerships, Greater Washington Works seeks to support hundreds of local workers to launch new careers in IT and Healthcare. Funding applications are due no later than March 6, 2017 and are only accepted electronically at the link above. Interested applicants are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with any questions.