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Making Workforce Development Work Better: Business and Labor Perspectives

We asked Wes Bush, Chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), how the workforce training system can better expand opportunity for U.S. workers and increase economic competitiveness.

Wes Bush

WB

Wes Bush

Lee Saunders

LS

Lee Saunders

What is the most important change needed in our approach to workforce development?

WB

The primary issue is the mismatch between the workforce skills needed by business and the skills of those seeking employment. In a Business Roundtable survey, 95 percent of companies identified issues in finding employees with the skills they needed; meanwhile there are about 6 million unfilled job openings in the U.S. today. Enabling workers to gain the skills needed by business is a critical enabler for our country’s long-term economic growth.

LS

Workforce development and training is critical for public employers who face a graying workforce. As workers depart, they take a wealth of institutional knowledge with them, leaving a skills deficit that is difficult to address. Yet few state and local governments have undertaken the rigorous analysis necessary to forecast and address their workforce needs.

How can we resolve this skills mismatch?

WB

Partnerships between business, labor, educational institutions and government are a demonstrated method of addressing the gap. Educational institutions will be better able to align new curriculum to business demands, and labor will be able to increase apprenticeships, training and certification efforts to support business requirements. Business Roundtable is working to build these collaborations, for example by helping to launch Credential Engine, a national database of educational and technical certificates to which both companies and universities would contribute.

LS

AFSCME sponsors a range of training and development programs that are designed to give workers the skills they need. For example, AFSCME offers our members and their families an opportunity to earn an associate degree at no cost. We are also exploring ways to help public service workers gain skills that will help them advance professionally. In Pennsylvania, we operate an educational trust fund in cooperation with 50 local healthcare employers to develop customized educational programs to address workforce recruitment and retention. The program offers work readiness, GED, ESL and specialized skills programs.

How can we better prepare young people to get on the path to well-paying jobs?

WB

The best way to prepare young people for success is through internships that provide hands-on learning experiences and insights into the workplace. Business also has a responsibility to better communicate career opportunities available to those with the necessary skills and credentials. Partnerships with educational institutions and transparent communication with students will better enable educational systems to align with the development of skills needed, and will encourage young people, and those who influence their choices, to be better informed about opportunities.

LS

We need more initiatives that reach young people who want to enter public service. The Youth Transitions to Work program sponsored by one of our New Jersey affiliates is one that prepares Newark high school students for postsecondary academics. It helps young people develop work-readiness skills, such as time management and financial literacy, and then provides placement in nursing or physical therapy apprenticeships, creating a bridge to higher-paying jobs.

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$350M


invested to provide young people and adult workers with the skills and training they need to move up the economic ladder

Learn more about opportunity

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$2M


10 U.S. states receives $2 million each in funding to expand and improve career pathways for high school students

Learn more about future success

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100%


117 students completed the Fellowship Initiative program, with a 100 percent high school graduation rate

Learn more about mentorship

The Right Skills to Move Up the Economic Ladder

The surest way to open the doors to opportunity is to equip individuals with the skills they need to compete for well-paying jobs that are in demand. Yet as the global economy has fundamentally transformed our labor market, our approach to education and skill development has remained stubbornly static.

JPMorgan Chase is working to help right the system. Through New Skills at Work, New Skills for Youth and other initiatives, we are investing over $350 million to provide young people and adult workers with the skills and training they need to move up the economic ladder, while strengthening the talent pipeline employers need to compete.

Creating Next-Generation Data Resources

There are millions of good jobs in our economy for workers who have graduated from high school and completed some postsecondary education or training, but many of these jobs go unfilled. A powerful — and immediate — way to connect workers to opportunity is by providing data that shows where these jobs are and information about how to qualify for them.

Students in a welding class
Students in a welding class at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas.

That’s the idea behind the Good Jobs Index (GoodJobsData.org), which provides timely, localized data that debunks the myth that a bachelor’s degree is the only ticket to a good job. Launched in 2017 in partnership with Georgetown University, the index is an interactive data platform that allows users to explore the entire U.S. labor market for jobs with median earnings of $55,000 per year that do not require a bachelor’s degree.

Our firm is also supporting a range of practical, online tools that help jobseekers get on a career pathway in a particular industry. One example is our work with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning to develop BankingOnMyCareer.com. Launched in 2017, the resource links New Yorkers to middle-skill financial services jobs.

We are also investing in data resources to help policymakers, educators and employers better align training and education programs with in-demand skills, such as our collaboration with the OECD to develop the Skills for Jobs Database.

We are supporting career readiness programs around the world, and sharing those insights

Providing Young People With a Pathway to Future Economic Success

Through New Skills for Youth, we are working to dramatically expand the number of young people who get the education and credentials they need for the well-paying, in-demand jobs of the 21st century.

For example, our partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Advance CTE brings together government, business and education leaders to transform approaches to career-focused education. Through a national competition, 10 U.S. states — Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin — were selected in 2017 to receive $2 million each in funding to expand and improve career pathways for high school students.

We are also supporting innovation sites through which the firm is helping cities test and scale promising ideas in career-focused education. In New Orleans, for example, New Skills for Youth is helping to bring a new approach to preparing students of the city’s unique all-charter school system to get on a rewarding career path — a model that, if successful, could help guide schools around the country.

In addition, we are supporting career readiness programs around the world, and sharing those insights to inform approaches elsewhere. For example, we support the China Development Research Foundation’s For the Bright Future initiative, which is working to provide students in vocational schools in four provinces across China with the skills to succeed in the workforce. In South Africa, we are partnering with local organizations to pilot approaches for vocational training in renewable energy, baking, merchandising and computing.

Jennie Sparandara

“We know that helping young people build skills and work experience while they’re in high school leads to long-term economic benefits. Our aim in working with states to build career education programs that align with the needs of growing industries is to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school armed with the skills to move up the economic ladder while at the same time strengthen the talent pipeline employers need.”

— Jennie Sparandara, Executive Director, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The Fellowship Initiative fellows

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Partnership Spotlight

Harnessing the power of mentorship: TFI Fellows Victor Ahaiwe, Michael Udo, Vincent Okafor and Alejandro Gomez, are fellows of The Fellowship Initiative (TFI).

At JPMorgan Chase, we are tapping into the experience and dedication of our employees to provide the mentorship that, time and again, has made a difference in helping young people overcome hardship and achieve success.

The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) is our firm’s intensive academic, leadership and professional development program that gives young men of color access to JPMorgan Chase mentors and other resources to develop the essential skills and networks that contribute to greater economic mobility. In 2017, 117 students completed the program in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City — with a 100 percent high school graduation rate — and we expanded it into Dallas. In 2018, we increased the overall size of the program when we welcomed in 200 new Fellows for the Class of 2020.

Meanwhile, through the Schools Challenge, more than 350 young people from low-income backgrounds in London, Paris and Milan participated in programs in 2017 that — with the help of more than 220 JPMorgan Chase mentors — provided guidance on how to pursue careers that utilize STEM skills. In 2018, we will expand the program to Hong Kong.

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A Time-Tested Model to Move Up the Career Ladder

Melba Araujo was working as a family support worker in the Bronx, New York City, but wanted to advance her career — and earning potential — in the healthcare industry. Yet taking night classes or doing an unpaid internship were not realistic options. That’s where the Community Health Worker (CHW) Apprenticeship Program came in.

Launched in 2017, the program is supported in part by the Healthcare Career Advancement Program, a national organization dedicated to expanding apprenticeship opportunities in healthcare. It combines classroom learning, delivered by LaGuardia Community College professors, with on-the-job experience in Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. That means Araujo and other apprentices earn a steady salary while gaining the clinical skills and cultural awareness required for community healthcare work.

Students in a welding class
Students in a healthcare IT training initiative at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

When they finish the program, participants receive a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and a continuing education certificate from LaGuardia Community College. They also receive one more crucial thing: a job offer to work as a community health worker at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, along with a pay raise that goes with it.

Melba Araujo
Melba Araujo

While there is a strong and successful apprenticeship tradition in some trades and countries — notably Germany and Switzerland, whose workforce development approach has long emphasized apprenticeships — there is a need to modernize and expand the model for today’s economy. That’s what New Skills at Work is doing by investing in apprenticeship programs in high-growth sectors and within high school and postsecondary education systems. The CHW Apprenticeship Program, one of the programs we support, is successfully applying this time-tested model to address today’s vital need for front-line healthcare workers.

Today, Araujo is working as a community health worker in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. There, she helps pregnant women access healthcare resources, insurance and social services, and educates women on topics such as nutrition, prenatal care and breastfeeding. With the help of the apprenticeship program, Araujo has already moved up the career ladder — but she has no plans to stop there. She has her sights set on becoming a social worker next.

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