BAG was founded in 2018 as a 501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization to address the skills gap dilemma. Prior to the creation of BAG, we created a similar organization for the crane, rigging and specialized transportation industry that developed and implemented 9 career skills type events around the country bringing over 5,000 students, educators and businesses together.
As a non-profit organization, BAG works to align all sides of industry to a shared vision, and then lead them in the development of a solution to their skills gap challenge. Through collaboration with students, educators and businesses, we work towards the common goal of bringing the next generation into the skilled trades industries.
Our founder, Brett Melvin, served as a Senior Advisor to the Office of the Secretary at Department of Labor during the Bush administration. He has founded, built and sold several businesses and served as a Vice President at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) for over a decade. In 2014, he joined the Specialized Carrier & Rigging Association’s (SCRA) effort to develop a solution to their skills gap challenge. His unique background in trade associations, government service and entrepreneurial success made it possible for him to design and build the Lift & Move USA program into a one-of-a-kind workforce development program. The program brings industry professionals together with young people between the ages of 17-24 seeking entry level career-oriented jobs with potential industry employers.
Brett championed the building of a team that included: SCRA member companies, education & certification organizations, media organizations, unions, manufacturers and others. At the 9 Career Skills Events held around the country that he developed during the 3-year period, over 5,000 students attended and another 100,000+ were exposed to the industry and their opportunities through social media. In 2018, Brett has taken this concept to the next level with Bridging America’s Gap to help other industries and businesses create their own employee pipeline.
With Career Skills Events, BAG then adds veterans, existing workforce development programs and students from local schools and community colleges for a half-day event. During the event, attendees move quickly through a series of education stations and hear direct testimony from industry professionals, learn about career opportunities and rewards within the industry and obtain hands-on experiences. Attendees have the opportunity to see equipment up-close and use and virtual reality simulators to simulate the use of the machinery.
BAG has developed close relationships with a series of organizations that work closely with the 17-24-year-old population. This includes organizations such as SkillsUSA, Helmets to Hardhats and programs such as JobCorps. Additionally, BAG has learned how to navigate through secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.
A workforce development study published by the McKinsey Company, reported that less than 50% of students and employers believed that students were ready to work on their first day of employment, yet 72% of teachers believed they were qualified. In the past three decades, the education system has promoted college preparation often at the expense of skills and vocational opportunities or as some might say, “Book sense at the expense of common sense.” The study also revealed that less than 25% of businesses have a strong relationship with local education programs and don’t even know how to build one.
Over 30% of the 15 million students in high school today will not attend any post-secondary school. If they do not receive exposure to the skills trades and other high paying career and vocational opportunities, they will not even be aware of these opportunities unless they have a family member or close friend who is involved in them.
By bringing schools and businesses together, BAG can help walk them through the difficult process of building that elusive, but necessary long-term relationship between all the parties. This provides non-college bound students with the knowledge and pathway to better opportunities and helps businesses build a pipeline for entry-level employees.
At a traditional Job Fair, prospective employees walk around to visit various booths or table tops where prospective employers will promote their business with a short, well-practiced elevator pitch hoping to make a match between company and prospect. Available positions may range from entry level to middle-management or above.
CSE’s seek to educate and inspire 17-24-year-olds seeking to start a rewarding career in a skilled trade industry by showcasing industry champions offering real life information with the opportunity to obtain hands-on experiences.
Attendees are split into groups and have the opportunity visit numerous learning stations. Industry champions will provide presentations about the different job opportunities, the realities (pro’s & con’s) of working in the industry, projected salaries over a lifetime, advice on how to land a job along with time for Q&A. The ideal champion is under 30 years old with solid practical experience in the industry. Attendees are provided job description data sheets that include descriptions of job duties, potential salary, required education, training and certifications.
Like a 3-leaf clover, BAG offers 3 unique yet similar CSE programs:
Regional CSE’s are ½ day events held in conjunction with statewide student organizations such as SkillsUSA and can involve several industries at the same event.
Industry CSE’s are ½ day events held on a school day and are focused on a single industry usually hosted at an industry facility. At these events, BAG helps bring together students, teachers, parents and experts from a single industry and other stakeholders which allows for a more in-depth experience for the attendees. The goal is to help facilitate connections between schools and industries to build that long-term entry level employee pipeline that is so critical moving forward. Students may travel from as far as 90 minutes away.
Business CSE’s are held by a single business at their location and usually focus on working with a local high school, technical school or veterans group. These shorter events may or may not include learning stations. The goal is to foster strong business relationships with local education institutions and expand their attractiveness as a go to employer for counselors, parents and students.
BAG spends several months working closely with the stakeholders to customize a CSE that fits their specific needs. This includes the development of marketing materials, identification of school prospects, design and execution of the program and providing full event guidance to the individuals who will champion the program for the industry or business. In most school districts, it takes a minimum of 6 weeks to receive approval to participate CSE’s. With the BAG template, it typically takes 4 months to fully execute an event. It’s important to note that scheduling of these events is limited by school calendars and geography. For example, an event to be held in September needs to be approved as early as March to account for most school summer breaks.
BAG’s priority and goal is to help an industry build their own workforce development program by providing necessary resources throughout the process. If industry resources are scarce, it may take several years to truly help all the stakeholders within an industry align under a shared vision to develop their own skills gap solution and build their own entry level employee pipeline. BAG is willing to provide long-term assistance if necessary.
BAG very much believes that developing a follow-up program is critical to the long-term success of a skills gap program. For this reason, BAG employs several methods to maintain and grow the relationship between the CSE attendees, schools and potential employers. This includes the development of an ongoing social media relationship with the attendees and e-newsletters that highlight both “cool happenings” within an industry and the sharing of entry level job openings within participating industries.
501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization
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