A trend that is beginning to define the future of skills training is the rise of work-based learning opportunities. Whatever form they take — be it apprenticeships, mentorship, internships or on-the-job training — they are solutions for effective workforce development.
WorkingNation brought together experts from the organizations engaged in redefining worker training for our fifth Town Hall at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston last October. We have selected the best highlights from the discussion, which will comprise a future TV broadcast.
Altogether, their insights represent the urgent need for employers and educators to adapt to the changing labor market. Technological change and a shrinking pool of talent are forcing both sides to rethink how to best deliver skills training. Our panelists shared how systemic changes must happen to not only improve the quality of training but make it more accessible and equitable.
We invite you to watch the following excerpts from “Work-Based Learning: Building a Better Future for Job Seekers and Employers” featuring Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up; Maggie Koziol, Senior Director and Workforce Development Social Impact Leader, Deloitte LLP; Neil Sullivan, Executive Director, Boston Private Industry Council; Maria Flynn, CEO, JFF; Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO, the Commonwealth Corporation; Carol Leary, President, Bay Path University; David Shapiro, CEO, MENTOR; Yoli Chisholm, Founding Advisor, STEAM Role and Heather Terenzio, Co-founder & CEO, Techtonic Group. The Town Hall was moderated by CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn.
Education in Work-Based Learning
We begin with Cohn and Year Up CEO Chertavian’s conversation about increasing work-based learning in high schools and community colleges. As a primary economic engine and source for skilled workers, Chertavian argues that these education providers can do more to teach students how to work and reduce unemployment in young people.
While the demand for skilled workers and complaints about the dearth of talent produced by higher education increase, colleges are taking notice by shifting away from an outdated model. Bay Path University President Carol Leary says that colleges are aligning curriculum to workforce needs while retaining what makes colleges unique, the student-professor interaction.
Reducing Inefficiency, Scaling Quality
Companies can also look at how they can improve how they train and upskill their workforce. Dr. LaRock of the Commonwealth Corporation suggests that businesses change Human Resources’ focus away from job churning training programs and improve retainment rates by guiding workers along progressive career pathways.
Companies’ focus on filling job vacancies in the short-term is pervasive says Boston Private Industry Council’s Sullivan. Often, the short-term thinking in HR is at odds with companies’ philanthropic long-term planning. Sullivan says that merging the goals of both worlds can create a dependable workforce pipeline supported by continuing education and training programs.
For all the strides employers can make in implementing self-contained training solutions, Sullivan says they are actually doing a disservice to themselves by not connecting successful programs outward. He and JFF’s Flynn agree that investing in intermediaries, such as workforce boards and nonprofits, can engage untapped workers who are still sitting on the sidelines.
Mentoring and Role Modeling in Career Exposure
Mentorship can be the final piece of the work-based learning puzzle where mentors can use their experience to guide workers on an upward career path. MENTOR’s Shapiro says that his organization works with companies to develop the human relationships that mentoring supports.
Scaling mentorship to suit the needs of workforce training can be difficult says STEAM Role’s Chisholm. The crucial one-to-one relationship that mentorship depends on for successful skills training can be difficult to scale due to the limited supply of mentors. Chisholm says that role models can provide the entry point for career exposure, while Shapiro says that mentors complete the process of career development.
Technology’s Role in Job Training
As the labor market is changed by technology, more attention is being drawn to how tech skills are introduced to different worker demographics. Terenzio from Techtonic Group mentions how companies can limit their talent search by hiring for the right “cultural fit” instead of skills-based hiring.
Chisholm adds that employers should be more transparent in defining specific skills to complete a job instead of a general desire for four-year computer science graduates. While Shapiro says that companies can gain a competitive advantage by using technology to partner with community-connected educators and workforce boards.
The shrinking talent pool of skilled software developers led Techtonic to create an in-house training program that eventually became a Department of Labor-recognized registered apprenticeship. Terenzio explains how using apprenticeships, typically reserved for the trades, has opened up new avenues for underserved job seekers to join the booming tech industry.
Technology also can be the solution for introducing job seekers and students to role models and mentors already working in the industries they aspire to join. Chisholm says that the STEAM Role app brings career exposure to scale by uniting data, employers and students together for their mutual benefit.
WorkingNation looks forward to sharing the entire TV broadcast of this Town Hall event. You can watch on our previous Town Halls by clicking here.
Join the Conversation: What are the work-based learning solutions that are working for your company? Tell us your success stories on our Facebook page.