American youth and displaced workers face persistently high unemployment, almost twice the normal unemployment rate. Even though a recovering economy offers close to 4 million open jobs, nearly 60% of employers are complaining that they cannot find the talent to fill those jobs. There is a widening skills gap for young Americans between the skills possessed and those required by industry.
In the backdrop of this widening skills gap and the need to improve job readiness for 36 million low-skilled adults in U.S, Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, Chairman & Founder of the Wadhwani Foundation, met President Obama in 2012 and the ‘Race to a Job (RTAJ)’ Initiative was born. The mission of RTAJ is to dramatically enhance student employability whilst reducing learning times and costs, and improving completion. This would be achieved through a learner centric massively open online system delivered in a hybrid model that scales existing successful workforce development programs in collaboration with Community Colleges, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Training Unions and Industry Partners.
1. The U.S community college system has diluted its mission from being a white collared vocational trainer to being a stepping stone to a four year college programme and this has not been very successful.
2. Career and Technical Education (CTE) in high schools is largely unavailable, largely unfunded & largely ignored.
3. While market increasingly demands tailoring education to corporate needs, CTE education in America is widely disjointed from industry.
4. Community Colleges have an identity conflict between that of a skills college for CTE versus a prep college for a subsequent 4 year college program.
5. Community Colleges have a persistent drop-out rate of greater than 50% and throughput is at 3.5 years for a 2 year program. Innovative models of combining off-line to on-campus are largely unavailable, even though most students are part-timers.
Massively leveraging technologies and modern concepts for teaching and scaling workforce skills
With a vision to skill and employ millions of mid-skill workers in the U.S, RTAJ seeks to combine best-in-class workforce development (job programs) and delivery systems with advanced educational technology to transform and scale workforce education delivery.
A Skills Education Portal in partnership with Industry and Academia
To provide curriculum from best-in-class workforce training programs delivered in modularized form through a cloud-based portal and existing delivering organizations.
Planning innovative models for delivery of workforce education in a blended learning format
• Creating an enabling environment for partnering with industry, education and workforce entities in delivery of workforce curriculum
• Elevating the body of research on learner-centric technology aimed towards achieving scale and integrating technology into workforce education delivery
Convening thought leadership to close the skills gap
• Build a network of partners invested in the transformation of the delivery of workforce education
• Collaborating with national and global partners in innovating delivery of workforce education
• Engaging in national dialogue & reforms on workforce policy and training systems to better meet the needs of learners, industry and community
• Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) of City University of New York (CUNY) & 1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund in New York for digitization of their Medical Assistant Specialist curriculum with an aim to upgrade skills and gain stackable credentials
· Central New Mexico Community College,Albuquerque for using RTAJ’s medical assistant modules to train their students
· Jewish Vocational Services, San Francisco for using RTAJ’s medical assistant modules to train their students
· Foothill College, Santa Clara for using RTAJ’s cyber security modules to train their students
· Dallas County Community College District, Texas for using RTAJ’s medical assistant modules to train their students
· California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development for working along with the Cyber Security Task Force on employer / industry engagement to facilitate utilization of RTAJ’s cyber security modules.
– Dr. Dawn Lindsay, AACC President
– Dean Sunil Gupta, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) of City University of New York
– Ron Painter, Executive Director, National Association of Workforce Boards