By Alison Griffin, Senior Vice President, External and Government Relations, USA Funds
The conversation around closing the “skills gap” — the gap between employer needs and the available skills in the labor market — historically has involved educators and employers, trade associations and industry representatives. Emerging now are so-called “employment tech” firms, which are organizations that have strategies and solutions to address the skills gap. As the name implies, these strategies and solutions are tech-based and driven by industries that want to apply competency-based hiring frameworks and alternative job-seeker training and credentialing to their historical practices.
A leading convener in this emerging employer-tech space is Innovate+Educate, an organization focused on disrupting the status quo and validating the urgent need for new solutions to close the skills gap and bridge the opportunity divide. Led by Jamai Blivin, Innovate+Educate is an industry-led nonprofit that has focused on total systemic transformation through national policy advocacy and movement building, boundary-pushing research, development of tools and resources, and program and service delivery at the community level.
In large part, the emerging employment tech market has caught the attention of venture capitalists, philanthropy, industry leaders, education leaders, policymakers and community-based organizations because of the practical application to the needs of young people, career-changers, adult students and opportunity youth. Moreover, innovation in the employment space is needed as a new hiring economy looks for ways to attract talent to jobs and careers that are only just emerging.
For the last three years, Innovate+Educate has been the lead sponsor of the Close It Summit, a national convening that brings together industry, education, workforce, youth innovators, foundations and social impact organizations that are actively engaged in creating new, demand-driven pathways from education to employment.
This year’s Close It Summit featured the “Employment Tech Explosion,” and USA Funds® was the sponsor of the inaugural event. The ETE featured 50 companies from across the country, selected to showcase their technology solutions in hiring, training and credentialing. These innovative companies are disrupting the traditional market by forging bold new pathways to employment and training.
For one day, each of the companies had an opportunity to pitch its solution to the Summit audience, and participants voted on the 10 companies with the strongest pitch and most interesting concept. The 10 companies selected as the Close It Summit ETE winners included:
Consistent with our focus on Completion With a Purpose℠, to promote student success in college and careers, USA Funds is excited to be an ongoing part of this dialogue. USA Funds congratulates each of the selected ETE companies; we look forward to hearing great things about their evolving success.