Millions of Americans need access to career training programs that will help them build the in-demand skills required for well-paid jobs in fields that offer opportunities for economic advancement. This population includes unemployed or underemployed workers, and people without a four-year postsecondary degree. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the urgency to expand these types of training programs because it has accelerated trends in e-commerce and automation and left many displaced workers seeking new career opportunities.
Verizon Communications, Inc., one of the world’s leading technology and communications services providers, recognized the need for new training and development initiatives that could help jobseekers build skills for new careers while assisting the company in identifying candidates for IT-related roles. The company was also driven by its desire to meet the goals of a new corporate social responsibility plan called Citizen Verizon, a $3 billion initiative to create more equitable pathways to economic, environmental, and social advancement.
In October of 2020, Verizon pledged to invest more than $44 million to support free technology-focused career training programs that enable 500,000 people to build skills that prepare them for jobs of the future. As part of that goal, Verizon is trying to build the foundation to connect 10 million young people with digital skills training by 2030. Most of the funding will be used to expand partner Generation’s online tech training program, with the goal of rolling it out to 26 cities by the end of 2022.
The training program, designed for workers who are unemployed, underemployed, facing job displacement due to automation, or challenged in other ways by the pandemic, focuses on members of populations that have faced systemic barriers to building family-supporting careers. Priority will go to Black and Latinx applicants, women of all backgrounds, and anyone who does not have a four-year degree. The online programs will give thousands of Americans who are most in need of developing new skills the opportunity to take part in technical training and career development programs that many have not had access to in the past.
Partnership with JFF
To help Verizon identify where it would implement the technology-focused training program, JFF’s research team examined which populations were most affected by previous economic downturns. The findings provided Verizon’s decision makers with information that helped them determine which people and geographic communities would benefit most from this initiative.
In addition to JFF’s research and evaluation work, JFF is providing coaching and technical assistance for community colleges that offer the training. Generation’s rapid-training curriculum is based on its national research, and JFF is assisting in the rollout of the training to the nearly 20 partner colleges. JFF has recruited and onboarded high-quality community colleges that fit the initiative’s profile and continues to scale the training. JFF is working with Generation and local communities to customize programming to meet the needs of each geographic area and to provide wraparound support services to augment student success strategies.
Through a combination of research and data analysis, assessments of labor market information, and skills mapping activities, JFF produced three research reports and a presentation that provided Verizon with information about macroeconomic trends that shaped the regions they are focused on. JFF also made recommendations to enhance program design and recruitment of prospective students.
Read more in the resources listed below:
- Emerging Labor Market Impact of the Recession
- The Great Recession: The Impacts and Lessons Learned From Recovery
- Automation: Challenges and Opportunities for Low-Skill, Low-Wage Workers
- Recovery for Economic Mobility
This case study was developed with the generous support of Verizon.