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. 

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