Today’s US labor market is failing low-income and minority job seekers. Low-income and minority candidates often face significant barriers to securing family sustaining wages and benefits. From failing public school systems, to misalignment of workforce development programs and the needs of employers, to cultural and racial biases in the workplace, these impediments produce poor outcomes for both communities and employers who are unable to fill critical roles.
This concept paper, a result of Bridgespan’s recent research, “Billion Dollar Bets” to Create Economic Opportunity for Every American, explores potential solutions to the barriers low-income and minority job seekers face when building their careers. It focuses on making existing jobs available to low-income and minority job seekers who aim to ensure that they have access to fulfilling, life-sustaining employment through the establishment of career pathways. It also addresses the current gap between employer needs and the skills of job seekers. Specifically, the paper outlines investments philanthropists could consider to improve career opportunities through:
- Ensuring that low-income job seekers have the information and support they need to identify the best paths to careers that match their skills and interests and has provides family-sustaining incomes
- Increasing market pressures on traditional postsecondary institutions by investing in alternative, competency-based programs that target low-income populations through innovation grants, seed funding, and scaling grants
- Advocating for federal and state funding to support competency-based programs
Lastly, it quantifies the projected impact of these investments with estimates of the potential return on investment individuals and families would experience if a big bet were to be made to establish more career pathways.
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