As we celebrate the New Year, WorkingNation is looking back at a new mini-documentary series from our executive producer Melissa Panzer and director Jonathan Barenboim which made its debut in 2017.

Do Something Awesome captures the spirit of a new revolution in workforce development and technological adaptation which are skills-focused and results-driven. The series features the partnerships creating the industry-aligned career paths and ensuring that workers of all age groups are prepared to enter new careers.

Our hard-working documentary crew traveled across the United States, from big cities to remote corners of the country, and found the personal stories which shape the narrative of the changing workforce in the 21st century. Our documentary subjects come from different economic classes, educational backgrounds, and careers, yet they are united by a drive to better themselves through innovative opportunities happening at the local level.

Each video is a document of the American workforce in the modern age. The rapid advancement of technology has had a direct impact on employment, but with these dynamic changes come new opportunities for the future. As technology threatens to eliminate many of the jobs we do today, there are educators, employers, and organizations preparing for this new reality. The stories of our Do Something Awesome series present their solutions which are showing a way forward.

PHI: Choosing a Path to Better Care – May

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) in New York is addressing a critical need for home health care providers by advocating for better wages and offering skills training to workers. By improving the lives of the people taking care of our aging society, PHI is hoping to attract more people to join one of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation.

Tri-C/KeyBank: Changing Lives, Saving Lives – June

The Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) and KeyBank Public Safety Center in Parma, Ohio trains the next generation of first-responders at its state-of-the-art facility. With many police and fire departments reporting a shortage of qualified workers, there is a nationwide need for educators to fill an employment gap. Through the story of recruit Savon Collins, this public-private partnership is an example of how institutions can respond to this need at the local level.

John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University & New Start Career Network: When Finding Your Job is the Job – August

In New Jersey, nearly half of the state’s unemployed are workers over the age of 45. The majority of these people are out of work for longer than six months. The New Start Career Network (NSCN) offered by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University is a program that is targeted to this age group. The NSCN gave Joe Konopka, who was laid off from his job in educational administration, the career counseling he needed to re-enter the workforce.

USC Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism: The New Path To News – October

The rapidly changing media environment requires a workforce enabled with the skills to work with new technologies and create content for multiple platforms. At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, journalism students like Eli Goodstein are empowered by the Annenberg Works program to learn in a digital-first newsroom environment and gain real-world experience with today’s leading media companies.

Gateway Technical College/Snap-on Incorporated: The Drive to Succeed – October

The public-private partnership between Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Snap-on Incorporated resulted in the creation of the Horizon Center for Transportation Technology in 2007. At this facility, students Michael Wittrock and Nicholas Schick gained hands-on experience working with the latest in Snap-on diagnostic equipment and tools to gain industry-recognized certifications to enter new careers in the automotive manufacturing and repair.

Xometry/Ashby Manufacturing: Crafting a Future

The Great Recession had a major impact on the domestic manufacturing industry. For Ashby Manufacturing in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, changing with the times meant adopting new technologies. The online platform Xometry is connecting small-town manufacturers like Ashby to new business opportunities nationwide with the companies in need of quality machined parts.

Carolinas HealthCare System: Employers Salute Skills: The Value of the American Veteran – November

Carolinas HealthCare System, serving North Carolina and South Carolina, is a national leader in connecting veterans to jobs within the not-for-profit medical system. Two veterans, Aaron Harper and Benjamin Breckheimer, are applying their particular skill sets gained from their military experience to jobs with Carolinas HealthCare System. They show that veterans who have the training and real-world experience are well-suited for in-demand careers in health care.

North Idaho College: The Sky’s the Limit – November

The aviation industry has grown over the past decade and is facing a shortage of qualified and skilled mechanics and manufacturers. North Idaho College is responding to the need for these workers in the Pacific Northwest through affordable programs in aviation maintenance and advanced manufacturing. Jennifer Treman, who had no experience in aviation, changed her career and her life through her education with NIC.

College for Social Innovation: First Boston. Next, the World – December

The College for Social Innovation in Boston is offering students a different type of internship, one that enriches college students’ lives as well as providing them valuable experience in the social change sector. CfSI is giving students like Sydney Boardman and Linda Mindaye the opportunity to spend a college semester in the city and preparing them for leadership roles in this sector.

Harper College/Zurich North America: Insuring a Career – December

An apprenticeship is typically thought of as a career pathway to a job in one of the trades in the U.S., but the apprenticeship is used for a variety of careers in Europe. Zurich North America is applying the apprenticeship model to the insurance industry at its home office in Schaumburg, Illinois. In partnership with Harper College, Zurich North America is training apprentices Noelia Salgado and Dane Lyons while they earn their degree during the two-year program.

Look for more great Do Something Awesome stories in 2018 when we continue highlighting the programs that are helping close the skills gap and preparing the next workforce for the new careers.