With funding from Google.org, Jobs for the Future (JFF) launched the Public Sector Digital Jobs Innovation Project in May 2022 to support public sector organization in developing a comprehensive digital jobs strategy to support on-ramps to high-quality technology careers for individuals currently underrepresented in the sector, especially women, people from Indigenous backgrounds, Black workers, Latinx workers, and those from other racial backgrounds. This effort builds on both current and prior JFF work focused on digital jobs that was supported by Grow with Google, Verizon, Salesforce, and others. As part of a multi-faceted effort to advance this strategy, JFF’s current work is focused on three main areas:
- Identifying opportunities and gaps related to the digital jobs ecosystem and synthesize recommendations to the field on how to support on-ramps to these roles via programmatic technical assistance and research.
- Supporting both design and systems change for three initial sites that have been selected for 6-month planning grants to support regional digital jobs strategies.
- Distributing 15,000 Google Career Certificates to nonprofits and workforce agencies to support the scaling of these specific credentials and developing pathways for individuals to enter the technology sector without a four-year degree.
These opportunities provide organizations who are interested in launching or have launched work focused on creating equitable pathways into high quality tech careers, a chance to either develop a comprehensive digital jobs strategy for their region or implement training solutions to upskill and/or reskill local residents. For an overview of the current public sector digital jobs landscape, check out the Public Sector Spotlight below.
1. Public Sector Planning Grant (for public sector entities)
With funding from Google.org, JFF solicited proposals for public sector entities across the U.S. to receive six-month planning grants to support the expansion of inclusive pathways into public sector digital jobs, including integrating industry recognized digital job credentials into hiring requirements in lieu of degree requirements. This initiative invest sin three regions designing and planning a digital jobs strategy that connects jobseekers with low incomes to high-demand careers within the public sector, with an emphasis on underrepresented populations. Through this project, selected agencies/organizations will identify opportunities to leverage short -term and industry -recognized credentials (including but not limited to the Google Career Certificates) to help support onramps to high-quality digital jobs in the public sector. JFF will provide design support, subject matter expertise, and peer learning opportunities to organizations selected for participation. Findings and completed work products from these planning grants will highlight the gaps, opportunities, and needs of the tech sector. JFF will collate these findings to help inform several short publications that highlight learnings from this initiative. Please see the Planning Grant RFP for more details about this opportunity.
2. Workforce Development Board Digital Skills Pilot Initiative (exclusively for workforce development boards)
JFF, with funding and support from New Profit, Google, and IBM, sought applications from workforce development boards looking to expand access to IT training and employment within their communities. Successful applicants receive capacity funding to design and launch a pilot initiative to implement either the Google Career Certificates or the IBM SkillsBuild learning platform for a period of approximately 15 months. Boards may also opt to pilot both technologies simultaneously. Boards will work closely with JFF to design their pilot taking into consideration recruitment strategies, community and employer partners, supportive services, KPIs, and data collection methods. All applicants must demonstrate the need for IT skills and job demand within their region and a strategy for supporting job placement or continuing education upon completion of training. Applicants must also demonstrate a plan for recruiting individuals that are unemployed, underemployed, or recently displaced and provide a strategy for partnering with community organizations to recruit individuals that are currently under-represented in the IT industry such as Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, returning citizens, or female job seekers. Please see the Digital Skills Pilot Initiative RFP for more details about this opportunity.
3. Google Career Certificates License Distribution
With funding from Google.org, JFF is supporting workforce and public sector organizations in offering the suite of Google Career Certificates to job seekers within their communities. Google.org has made 15,000 licenses available to their Coursera-hosted learning curriculum for use by public sector organizations across the country. Licenses should be prioritized for individuals that are traditionally underrepresented in the tech industry such as Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and female job seekers. Upon receiving these licenses, organizations will have access to JFF’s online resource hub and learning community which includes tools such as a quick start guide for new provider organizations, a facilitation guide for launching the program, a variety of tools from Coursera to support implementation, and many other resources. The window to request licenses has closed.
“The Hampton Roads Workforce Council is delving into talent development for digital jobs with support from JFF’s Public Sector Planning Grant. This effort will help the Workforce Council and our partners lay the groundwork to collaboratively address gaps in our region’s public sector labor force, providing access to new opportunities for Hampton Roads residents and addressing critical labor shortages within public sector agencies.”
Director, Grants & Corporate Stewardship
Hampton Roads Workforce Council
“A diverse, well-trained IT workforce is essential to making sure government and public sector organizations can best serve the people of North Carolina. We appreciate the opportunity to build on our ongoing work through this partnership with Jobs for the Future and plan to leverage existing relationships with multiple cabinet agencies and local government partners, Hometown Strong, the Governor’s initiative for rural areas, and the NC Business Committee for Education, a nonprofit dedicated to creating and expanding work-based learning.”
North Carolina Office of the Governor
“For many Oklahomans’s the path to success is not a straight line, but one fraught with daily challenges and adversity. The partnership with JFF and Google will enable us to help create more pathways to success. Whether it be for veterans, foster children, or those who simply may not have access to the same educational opportunities, the State of Oklahoma is positioned to develop talent and provide opportunities for economic advancement through job placement. These are the types of initiatives that can truly impact lives in a positive way.”
Senior Director of Applications and Data Services
Oklahoma Office of Management Enterprise Services
“The San Diego Workforce Partnership is excited to be selected as a recipient for the JFF Digital Skills pilot and continue our commitment to building accessible pathways for underrepresented populations to access technology careers in the region. IBM SkillsBuild will serve as a crucial first step in helping job seekers explore and gain exposure to various technical career paths. It will also serve as a critical bridge for incumbent workers to further develop technical skills that will allow them to attain quality jobs. We look forward to being brought into a national community of partners to share workforce best practices because of this new collaboration with JFF.”
Manager of Workforce Development – ICT
San Diego Workforce Partnership
“The Workforce Alliance is eager to partner with JFF and New Profit to pilot technology that advances digital jobs training within South Central Kansas as the economy recovers from the loss of 10,000+ jobs from the Boeing 737 MAX grounding in 2019, and COVID in 2020 and 2021. This project creates a tremendous opportunity for job seekers who complete training to move into well-paying tech careers, an area of need for Wichita.”
Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer
Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas
“The Austin tech industry has an opportunity to transform the lives of Austinites to not only live in this increasingly expensive city but thrive. Through the digital skills pilot initiative, we foresee the creation of a locally developed, futureproof tech talent pipeline filled with Austinites who might not otherwise receive the hands-on education they need to break into an entry level role in tech that provides a pathway to upward economic mobility. When we work together to impact the full ecosystem, Austin will not only be a global tech hub for innovative companies, but a pool of diverse and highly skilled tech talent.”
Director of Technology Partnerships
Workforce Solutions Capital Area
“WorkSource East Central Georgia is excited for the opportunity to pilot technology that advances digital jobs training. This investment in our community helps level the playing field for our local, rural economies. Often job-seekers are bound by the jobs within their zip codes. This opportunity enables our citizens to participate and innovate in the global economy.”
La Tunya Goodwin
WorkSource East Central Georgia
JFF is excited to share the progress of the Public Sector Digital Jobs Innovation Project and will publish insights and learnings as the work continues to develop in this area. Please connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to follow JFF’s work, or subscribe to our mailing list to find out about opportunities to learn, collaborate, and invest.