Flipping Orthodoxies in Workforce Development (and How We Fund It)

[Originally published: December 19, 2019 here]

By Kaitlyn Bean, Senior Program Officer, SkillWorks

  • A Boston-area medical research organization found itself unable to fill open positions in its IT department, directly inhibiting its ability to take on new contracts.
  • Across town, a rapidly growing fast casual restaurant put new store growth plans on hold for lack of qualified and reliable workers.
  • Shahid is a 28-year-old Moroccan immigrant to the Boston area. He completed high school and one year of college in Morocco and worked part time as an IT technician for a transportation company before he emigrated to the United States. He is currently driving for Uber and Lyft, and hoping to attend community college.
  • Maria emigrated from El Salvador to the United States eight years ago. Since her arrival she has been working in “back of the house” part-time positions in fast food, and speaks very little English.

It’s no secret – the unemployment rate in our region is at an all-time low and there is much good work being done across the Greater Boston education and workforce development ecosystems. And yet, people are still being left out and left behind and businesses are still struggling to find and keep workers.

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The shared opportunity of a tight labor market

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By almost any broad measure, Greater Boston is an economic powerhouse. Our unemployment rate is low, we’re creating jobs at a rapid pace and we’re building out one of the nation’s strongest high-tech economies.

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Catapult Papers highlight the opportunities for “Next Gen” workforce development solutions

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“Catapult Papers” series recognizes opportunities for employers, workers in new approaches during tight labor market

Boston –Changing industries. A tight labor market. Changing demographics among jobseekers. With all of these disruptions to the workforce, workforce development organizations must pivot in order to better connect employers and jobseekers. How workforce development organizations can do that is the subject of a new series of papers underwritten by the Boston Foundation, SkillWorks, and JVS Boston.

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New SkillSPAN Network Will Increase Skills and Job Training Opportunities for Thousands of People

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New network will push for policies in postsecondary education, workforce training, career and technical education that expand economic opportunities for people and boost local businesses

Boston, MA – Massachusetts will be one of ten states to join the just-launched SkillSPAN, the first nationwide network of non-partisan organizations working together to drive workforce policy wins in over twenty-five states over the next five years.

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Project Catapult Launches First in Catapult Papers Series on The Future of Workforce Development

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We are experiencing one of the strongest and most sustained periods of economic growth in American history—accompanied by unprecedented levels of income inequality. That growth has led to the current tight labor market with its continued proliferation of skilled jobs, which, in combination with anticipated attrition due to Baby Boomer retirements, has created a never-before-seen tension between the demand to fill jobs and the lack of supply ready to fill those jobs.

That tension requires a more robust workforce development solution. For example, with historically tight job markets, employers are desperate for talent. They are now willing to consider previously disregarded sources of labor and new approaches to recruitment and retention. This not only offers greater economic opportunity to lower-income individuals, but it creates a competitive business advantage for the employer. To meet these extraordinary challenges and opportunities, we need a very different approach, a new kind of “Next Gen” workforce organization that can launch untapped talent into new opportunities at a much faster, more direct and sustained rate and support the long-term success of both workers and employers via advancement, retention and strong employment practices. It also requires accompanying investment by philanthropy and government to make Next Gen workforce development a reality.

Enter Project Catapult: a new way of doing workforce development that will be valued by employers and will support longer-term economic mobility for jobseekers and employees.

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