Nov 19

Hope Street Group connecting future employees with needed skills

What job skills should be taught in a STEM-based curriculum? What knowledge is in demand in the workforce? Answering those questions can be tricky, as educators and trainers are not always on the same page as employers. To bring these groups together for the benefit of workers is the aim of the Hope Street Group. The nationwide organization is trying to bridge the gap between the skills that are taught to future employees and the skills that are needed on the job so that workers are better prepared and can reap the benefits of career advancement. To find out more, we contacted Martin Scaglione, president and CEO of Hope Street Group:

Q: Tell us about your organization.

A: Hope Street Group is a national, nonprofit organization formed in 2003 to fix social systems for the 21st century by:

Our mission is to ensure that every American has access to economic opportunity through education and a career path that offers advancement and income growth.

Q: How do you go about accomplishing this mission?

A: Hope Street Group is working to revolutionize our country’s approach to education, training, hiring and career advancement.

Currently, the signals between the key stakeholders in the education and workforce systems are not aligned: Employers are not effectively signaling the skills they need for the jobs they need to fill. As a result, educators and training providers are unable to develop effective training to prepare workers to meet those needs, and workers are not in a position to attain their desired job or communicate their ability to meet employers’ needs.

This bears out in skills-gap data: There is a significant deficit in the supply-demand ratio when it comes to middle-skills jobs. Forty-nine percent of the jobs in America require a middle-skills level, yet only 25 percent of the nation’s workers are at that skill level.

Workers are not being brought into jobs with an eye toward their “moving up” a career path and, with that, meeting the long-term-skills needs of the employer. As a result, workers are churning at the low-skills level and not moving up into middle-skills jobs, where the critical gap exists.

Hope Street Group is working with employers to help them strengthen the collaboration and “signaling” between them and workforce training and education organizations, as well as adopt “in-and-up” strategies when it comes to filling entry-level positions so that workers have a clear career path and access to the training that gives them the ability to move up that path.

Q: What are Hope Street Group’s major accomplishments/programs/initiatives? How have they helped specific groups?

A: Our major initiative, Sync Our Signals, is changing the way that employers source and hire talent, to improve the signaling among them, educators and workers on the skills and competencies needed for success and advancement.

Our goal is to achieve 25 by 2025 — that is, to see 25 percent of the workforce advance one level on their career path by 2025. On average, that will equate to more dollars of income for workers and their families, more dollars being pumped into local economies and more dollars in taxes to fund education, infrastructure and other investments that fuel economic growth and opportunity.

By taking an employer-led approach, Sync Our Signals is mobilizing blueprints for change in industry sectors that make up approximately one-third of the nation’s workforce — manufacturing, retail, health care and education — thus offering significant economic opportunities for millions of Americans.

For example, in the health-care sector, Hope Street Group is working with hospitals on three fronts: aligning the skills needed in their workforce with training and education programs; ensuring that workers have better access to this skills training; and adopting “in-and-up” career-path strategies. As we are seeing successful models, Hope Street Group is helping share and mobilize those across the country.

We have seen strong outcomes from these efforts, including with a medical assistant apprenticeship model at Trinity Health in Michigan that is being adopted by other hospitals across the country. It has had a positive impact on their pipeline for qualified medical assistants in terms of numbers and in other key areas, including Mercy Health, also in Michigan, seeing reductions in first-year turnover, from 25.3 percent to 18.7 percent, and Trinity Health seeing an increase in workforce diversity, with non-white hires growing by more than 30 percent.

Another example, in the manufacturing sector, is the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program developed by Toyota that is being shared with more than 300 companies through our work with the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education.

AMT offers workers an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience with a leading manufacturer while attending college. Each week, participants spend two days in the classroom and three days on the job. They earn a starting wage of $12 per hour, with the potential for $16 per hour.

Participants learn skills and competencies that employers need on the factory floor and in other positions, increasing their job prospects exponentially. Ninety-five percent of graduates are placed into full-time positions with the sponsoring employer at a salary of $50,000 to $75,000 in the first year.

Q: What groups/organizations/companies do you partner with? How do these partnerships work, and how do they further your mission?

A: Hope Street Group’s operational model takes a network-based approach. We are a small organization by design (18 people) because we believe in the power of building and leveraging a network of stakeholders required to drive system change. We work and partner with employers, government, community colleges, K-12 institutions, workforce boards other non-government organizations and philanthropy on a regular basis.

Some of our national-level partnerships include:

Q: Tell us about the partnership with Innovate+Educate: What will you do together, and what is your shared goal?

A: Innovate+Educate (I+E) and Hope Street Group are launching the Innovative Business Hiring Council 2020 (IBHC2020). This effort will build on the already strong relationship between the two organizations as well as their unified vision around shifting employer hiring, training and advancement strategies to focus on skills and competencies.

The IBHC2020 will be a unique, employer-driven council of companies across industries that are focused on shifting their talent acquisition and development models, with an emphasis on implementing competency-based solutions, sharing their findings with others and receiving technical assistance from like-minded corporate partners.

The council will work with companies across the services (retail, hospitality and food); health care; IT; cybersecurity; and financial sectors to identify effective competency-based talent sourcing models and support these companies in shifting their practices.

Q: Give us some programs/initiatives you will work on together and how you will do this.

A: Hope Street Group and I+E will work together through the IBHC2020 to work with Fortune 500 companies to revolutionize the way that employers source, hire, manage and advance talent. We will work together to get alignment and commitment from these companies on the actions they are willing to take to drive this change and what resources and external partnerships they need to make this happen.

Q: How will this partnership benefit workers and employers?

A: The impact of the work of this partnership will ultimately provide workers with a career pathway that provides for advancement opportunities and income growth. For employers, it will decrease their turnover rates and time-to-fill rate and increase their diversity rates and their quality of hires — resulting in significant cost savings.