Opportunity@Work and OCTAE Announce Partnership

It Is Time to Rewire the Labor Market, Particularly for Those Americans Who Get Overlooked Too Often

The current system of hiring- where employers hire for open positions based on a person’s education and job history- is outdated, overlooks millions of people, and leaves too many jobs unfilled. Opportunity@Work and a growing number of public and private agencies are working to transform these outdated hiring practices by proving to companies that they can hire based on mastery rather than pedigree by giving everyone a chance to show what they can do. If you have the skills to fill a vacant job, then you should get the job.

Tess Posner, Managing Director of TechHire for Opportunity@Work, Kim R. Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Management, Carmen Drummond, Chief of Staff, Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and Yolanda Townsend, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for Opportunity@Work take a moment to celebrate the agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and Opportunity@Work to support TechHire and other communities interested in using demand-side approaches to get more Americans to work.

Tess Posner, Managing Director of TechHire for Opportunity@Work, Kim R. Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Management, Carmen Drummond, Chief of Staff, Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and Yolanda Townsend, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for Opportunity@Work take a moment to celebrate the agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and Opportunity@Work to support TechHire and other communities interested in using demand-side approaches to get more Americans to work.

“If employers want to solve the skills gap, the solution is to hire for skills mastery rather than resume history.” — Byron Auguste, CEO and Co-Founder, Opportunity@Work

To advance and support job-driven training and education programs and initiatives that address demand-side obstacles to access to jobs and training throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) established a partnership with Opportunity@Work. Specifically, one of the goals of this partnership is to build and expand a network of employers, job seekers, education and training providers, labor market intermediaries, and civic leaders focused on making the “learning and earning pipelines” to technical training and jobs more inclusive and sustainable for Americans who otherwise have reduced access to high-demand, well-paid career pathways. “This partnership will create opportunities for many Americans who get overlooked too often,” said Johan E. Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

OCTAE, in partnership with various offices within ED, will facilitate and advance, as appropriate, within ED and with other Federal agencies partners, job-driven training and education programs and initiatives that address demand-side obstacles to access to jobs and training. The program areas within ED that will be engaged include: adult education, career and technical education, postsecondary education and training including community colleges, federal student aid initiatives, and other program areas, as appropriate.

“Postsecondary and adult education programs are a critical piece of the TechHire ecosystem which seek to prepare the current and future workforce for hundreds of thousands of open tech jobs. Opportunity@Work is excited about the many opportunities this partnership brings to expand TechHire partnerships with education providers and to develop and share best practices for demand-driven and competency-based approaches.” — Yolanda Townsend, Sr. VP &General Counsel, Opportunity@Work

In addition, ED will work with Opportunity@Work, other not-for-profit private sector intermediaries and Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor on job-driven public-private initiatives such as TechHire. TechHire is an effort to help train and expand the tech talent pipeline for in-demand jobs. TechHire is active in 51 communities, involves over 1,000 employers, and engages over 400 training and community partners. The TechHire network connects employers seeking IT talent with Americans who possess unique backgrounds and can get the job done.

Other areas of collaboration will include:

  • alignment of policies and initiatives that support modernized talent development strategies, including demand-driven strategies;
  • developing case studies that illustrate how both postsecondary and adult education programs can engage with the demand side employers in new ways – often aided by intermediaries – that produce more efficient pipelines for firms, specifically programs that serve the populations with significant barriers to employment such as those named in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA);
  • facilitating information sharing (e.g. presentations) about experiments and innovations in federal student aid (e.g., EQUIP and Second Chance Pell) that can be leveraged to expand learning systems anchored in local labor markets face significant labor supply constraints, and to widen entry opportunities  for vulnerable sub-populations;
  • considering how the Performance Partnership Pilot Authority, Pay-for-Performance Authority, and other innovative provisions in WIOA can be leveraged by organized communities (e.g., TechHire hubs and the like) to create  strategies for first-employment opportunities for vulnerable subpopulations;
  • developing a rubric to facilitate the self-assessment of existing “ecosystems” or “collaborations” to determine strengths and weaknesses in meeting local demand, and gather ongoing feedback for continuous improvement; and
  • identifying ways to work with UpSkill America partnerships and other types of arrangements coordinate and share knowledge to raise the impact of TechHire demand-side and other similar efforts.

This partnership has the potential to significantly change how training and education for tech and other in-demand jobs are done. It will give more Americans, particularly vulnerable sub-populations, the opportunity to show they master the skills employers are looking for, with or without the pedigree. It promotes the common sense idea that if you have the skills and there is a vacant job, you should be able to get the job.

Guest Bloggers: Kim R. Ford is the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education and Yolanda Townsend is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Opportunity@Work