Vocational training programs are typically viewed as a lesser option than universities. However, as university graduates struggle to find jobs, vocational training is becoming increasingly promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has repeatedly highlighted the “skills gap” between unemployed workers and job openings that require more than a high school education but less than a four-year degree.
JobTrain is a 50-year old nonprofit that is helping low-income people learn skills that lead directly to employment. The organization focuses on promoting economic equality through a combination of job training, academics and life skills to help disadvantaged people become self-sufficient.
JobTrain has a commendable placement record. Out of the 464 people who enrolled full time in vocational training with the organization in 2014, about 88 percent graduated. Of those, 82 percent or 347 people secured jobs, and 90 percent of them were still working a year later. Many of them had received promotions within a year.
According to JobTrain CEO Nora Sobolov, these are individuals who believed that they had little chance to succeed in life. With support from the organization, their belief in their own capabilities improved. This renewal of self-worth contributes to their high placement rate.
JobTrain has fostered relationships with several tech companies in recent years. These companies offer employee volunteers as well as financial support. Video game maker Zynga hired its culinary-art students from JobTrain to cater its Thanksgiving dinner. Facebook’s executive pastry chef taught a baking class.
Google and Wells Fargo held clothing drives to collect professional attire for students to wear on job interviews. Intuit developers make weekly visits to its coding class. Workday hosted a daylong informational session at its offices. LinkedIn, Workday and Wind River hire its coding graduates as interns or permanent employees. JobTrain’s key financial backers include Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Genentech and TE Connectivity.
Facebook’s sustainability and community outreach manager Lauren Swezey said that what makes JobTrain unique is that it delivers on its mission to improve the lives of the local community. JobTrain focuses on people who have very low income. In addition to providing vocational training, it conducts programs such as job fairs and workshops that reach about 7,300 people a year.
With many of its courses running for about four months, JobTrain offers a relatively quick and free path to employment at jobs earning above minimum wage. It provides training in fields such as business administration, culinary arts, carpentry, medical assistant, and solar installation.
To ensure that its programs will lead to jobs, JobTrain consults with over 60 local employers. With an annual budget of $5.5 million, JobTrain has 48 staff members. About a third of its funding comes from government fees for services, including its One Stop and youth training.
Source: SF Chronicle
Image Credit: Flickr via IOM
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