Taking the Time to Connect the Community to Career Opportunities

Taking the Time to Connect the Community to Career Opportunities

by Brett Melvin, Executive Director, Bridging America’s Gap


Over the past five years or so, workforce data has been sending a strong message: there is a difference between the expectation that employers have of the skills and competencies that a new employee will have on day one and what the employee is actually capable of doing. 

67% of employers can’t find qualified candidates for open positions. 60% of employers have had their open positions listed for 12 weeks or longer. And the confidence of those employers in future college grads being prepared for the workforce sits at a meager 11%.

Initiatives such as the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management™ (TPM) movement are paving the way for employers to organize and drive conversations with educators about the evolving skills and competencies needed in today’s economy, which is one component to the solution. TPM is focused on providing the much needed architecture for an open dialogue between business and education institutions to create alignment between business needs and education curriculums, and to teach employers how to define their in-demand skills in terms of competencies instead of credentials. 

But the only way to ensure those skills translate into successful career paths is to provide students and their families with exposure to and awareness of the jobs and career paths available across industries right in their own community.

“Businesses are busy running their business. They don’t always make time to go in to the community and meet with educators and students…their potential future workforce,” said Tom Weisenbach, Director of Business Development for the National Transportation Center.

As businesses develop stronger relationships with school systems, career fairs and other events focused on providing in-person career exposure and awareness opportunities for students and their families are a critical next step. 

At Bridging America’s Gap (BAG), a nonprofit provider of workforce and career event solutions, we are organizing these types of gatherings across the country and have seen the tremendous impact they can have on the student, parents, educators, and employers. 

“It is crucial to have hands-on career experiences that are both efficient and affordable for students. The labor market is shifting and the need for a four year degree is not necessary for 70% of the workforce.” — Shane Powell, CEO of TalentLynk.

“In today’s fast-paced, social media-dominated world, face-to-face events are critical to making an impact on young people. Having the opportunity to interact with experts in various industry sectors cannot be duplicated over a handheld mobile device. Students need to speak directly to the current workforce and have a dialog.” – Brent Kindred, Executive Director of SkillsUSA Wisconsin

BAG events and other face-to-face job opportunity events for students and their families are facilitating career conversations and are responsible for getting hundreds of students in the door to meet with employers to talk about real life, opportunity, and career alignment to the skills they already have. 

501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization

© 2018 Bridging America’s Gap. All Right Reserved.

Synergy in the Skills Gap Solutions

Synergy in the Skills Gap Solutions

by Brett Melvin

In June, I had the opportunity to build and moderate a panel of skills gap experts at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference. The 3-person panel consisted of executives from three different and seemingly unrelated organizations. Tom Weisenbach, Director of Business Development at National Transportation Center (NTC), an organization that is dedicated to bringing the opportunities within the transportation industry to life for potential student and veteran prospective employees. Lois O’Connor, Executive Director of the Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation (ARF) is part of an industry that is dedicated to bringing career opportunities to both young people and veterans in the “green” ammonia refrigeration industry, and Brad Bentley, President of Fastport, an organization that is dedicated to helping veterans and their spouses find great career  opportunities when they are transitioning into the civilian world. It just so happens that transportation is a major industry they assist in placing prospective employees.

By the end of our one-hour panel discussion, it became obvious there was a great deal of overlap between the organizations and the way they were addressing the skills gap challenge. Each organization has their own unique challenge, and either is or has built their own program, and they walked away realizing that there was a synergy to them all working together in the future. This is more of the norm than an exception when it comes to workforce development solutions. When individuals have a common challenge, we may all have unique and individual approaches to finding a resolution to that challenge. In the end, we all have the same overall goal and objective which is to build an employee pipeline to solve an industry’s skills gap problem.

The more I interact with people who have experience with the skills gap, the more I realize they have in common and can help each other. For example, NTC is trying to find students and veterans to work in various aspects of the transportation industry. This includes every position imaginable from drivers, to mechanics, to warehouse workers. ARF is working to help their industry find students and veterans to work in the refrigerated industry that also includes transportation and refrigerated warehouses. Fastport helps transitioning military veterans and their spouses, which both NTC and ARF need for their industries, including transportation and warehouses.

When asked about public/private partnerships, each of the panelists brought up H.R. 5153-The USA Workforce Tax Credit Act. They all believed that passage of this bill could serve to be a tremendous public/private partnership and could help make the needed difference to urge new businesses and organizations to develop the apprenticeships and training programs that will help us to truly make a difference in the skills gap.

Tom, Lois and Brad came to the panel thinking they would talk about seeking employees for their industry or finding jobs for their transitioning veterans. At the end of the panel discussion, the first thing they wanted to do was exchange business cards and set a time for when they could talk again. All too often, we begin by only thinking about our problem and how we can find a solution, but in the end, the more people we share and compare our problem with, the more solutions we can all find!

501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization

© 2018 Bridging America’s Gap. All Right Reserved.