Building 21st Century Skills

Agendas for Change

Please also see this op-ed just published by Representative Sabin and Commissioner Gainer on how NewDEAL Leaders' policies shape an agenda for communities nationwide to close the skills gap and unleash broadly-shared economic growth.

 

Building a Skills Agenda to Support a 21st Century Workforce

 

Innovation Hubs

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Warwick Sabin
Representative,
Little Rock, AR

 

Apprenticeships

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Bridget Gainer
County Commissioner,
Cook County, IL

 

Training for Growing Industries

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Andrew Gillum
Mayor,
Tallahassee, FL

 

Access to Community College

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Sam Liccardo
Mayor,
San Jose, CA

 

Career Gateways for Under-served Communities

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Kim Driscoll
Mayor,
Salem, MA

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Greg Fischer
Mayor,
Louisville, KY


 Innovation Hubs

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, founded four years ago by Rep. Warwick Sabin, is a model for communities to provide the space, equipment, and employer to worker/student connections that are critical to a well-trained workforce. Partnerships with high schools and community colleges give students access to programs in high-tech areas like robotics and 3D-printing, while employers can create programs to train current employees or potential recruits in welding, coding, and more, and entrepreneurs can hone the skills they need to improve their startups.

Making an Impact

Ten thousand students, workers, and entrepreneurs used the space last year, including through partnerships with 63 schools in 21 counties. The economic opportunity created is clear when you bring talented people together with the right skills, training and mentorship, like high school senior Greta Kresse. As an intern at the hub, Greta started a business printing local art on t-shirts with support from the facility's art and design studios.


 Apprenticeships

In Cook County, Commissioner Bridget Gainer started the first earned credit for employers who create and run a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program. This initiative includes opportunities for employers to build apprenticeships in non-traditional areas, like services and technology fields, where there is projected growth in the coming decades.

Making an Impact

Commissioner Gainer has put her policy work into action to showcase the impact of this initiative at the company Aon, where she is VP of global public affairs. By partnering with Harold Washington College, the company is training people for roles in account management, client support, financial analysis and technology, while committing to cultivating and hiring candidates to permanent jobs. The apprenticeships allow participants to earn money in something relevant to their studies. 


Training for Growing Industries

Partnering with the non-profit startup incubator Domi, as well as Florida A&M University, Mayor Andrew Gillum started a code academy that offers immersive courses in web development to help match workers with the needs of the growing IT sector. The academy, I/O Avenue, offers immersive 12-week courses. One focuses on training and securing jobs for underrepresented and economically challenged communities with no prior tech background, and the second focuses on providing enhanced training for workers and students from STEM fields that are looking to refine their skills to meet local job market demands. I/O Avenue also helps with job placement and employment. 

Making an Impact

Gillum's partnership is part of Tallahassee's TechHire initiative, which was recognized as part of an Obama Administration effort to encourage communities to close the skills gap in tech fields. When done right, the impact of these efforts has proven significant. One of the original TechHire cities was Wilmington, DE, which started a code academy under former Governor Jack Markell, a NewDEAL honorary co-chair. The program, Zip Code Wilmington, resulted in its initial participants doubling their average salaries from $25,000 to more than $55,000.


 Access to Community College

Mayor Sam Liccardo's new San Jose Promise program will pay two years of community college costs for up to 800 low-income students. This initiative can mean options for both a better, more affordable, pathway to a four-year degree for many students, as well as the opportunity for students to pursue targeted two-year and certification programs respected by employers in growing industries. The mayor has also noted education's impact on other aspects of a city's functions, from public safety to economic development, in talking about why this program is important for San Jose. 

Making an Impact

Significant research has demonstrated the positive impact of community colleges. Some brief highlights: The American Institute for Research calculates a person’s career earnings will be $259,000 higher with just an associate’s degree, and in some areas like Silicon Valley, a degree can be worth as much as $745,000 more than a high school diploma over one’s lifetime. Multiple high-paying jobs, like radiation therapists, dental hygienists and electronics repair, require only a two-year associate’s degree for entry. Some schools partner directly with businesses. Community colleges also mean more flexible schedules for students who must hold down a job while pursuing higher education, and offer programs aimed at those who don’t fit the traditional schooling model.


Career Gateways for Under-served Communities

 Mayors Kim Driscoll and Greg Fischer have pioneered work to lift up underserved populations. In Salem, MA, Driscoll's Career Gateway initiative for low-income, unemployed or underemployed non-native English speakers focuses first on key career skills (i.e. Microsoft Office and general computer skills) and then on specific emerging industry sectors through partnerships with the regional Workforce Investment Board and Career Center, the community college system, local major healthcare providers and others. 

With support from Mayor Fischer, KentuckianaWorks, the workforce agency for the Louisville area, developed the Career Calculator, an online web app that guides students, their parents, and all job seekers, in career planning and charting the education they need for good jobs. The free interactive web app lets users to search current job and education data for the Louisville region and make informed college and career choices. The Mayor calls it a key step toward the City’s Cradle to Career goal of creating a cycle from good education to good jobs with family-supporting wages.

Making an Impact

The Salem program has already successfully matched many participants to full-time employment. Meanwhile, in Louisville, the Career Calculator has been used by nearly 17,000 people in area high schools, universities, public libraries and at career centers throughout the region since its launch in 2016. It earned Louisville a 2016 U.S. Conference of Mayors/USA Funds National Education Pathways with a Purpose award, and is being translated into Spanish to broaden its reach. The award came with a $100,000 grant that is being used to further the goals of Mayor Fischer’s Cradle to Career initiative. 

 


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