Boston –Changing industries. A tight labor market. Changing demographics among jobseekers. With all of these disruptions to the workforce, workforce development organizations must pivot in order to better connect employers and jobseekers. How workforce development organizations can do that is the subject of a new series of papers underwritten by the Boston Foundation, SkillWorks, and JVS Boston.
The Catapult Papers: Essays on the Future of Workforce Development was written by Jewish Vocational Service President and CEO Jerry Rubin, with contributions from Rouguiatou Diallo, Chief of Staff for Resilient Coders. The series of four essays explores how workforce development organizations like JVS can leverage the unique dynamics of the current labor market to simultaneously offer greater economic opportunity to lower-income individuals and create a competitive business advantage for employers.
“In order to meet these historic challenges and opportunities,” Rubin writes, “(we need a) new kind of workforce organization, which we call ‘Next Gen Workforce Organizations,’ and accompanying investment by philanthropy and government that can make Next Gen workforce development at reality.”
The essays themselves explore JVS’ innovative approaches to becoming a Next Gen Workforce Organization and defines a new model, identifying four key features of Next Gen organizations. Rubin says they must:
Become Market Responsive– by adapting their cultures to value a high-quality customer service approach to employers and jobseekers, establishing payment structures for their services and connecting with untapped sources of labor.
Go Beyond “Just Any Job”– by focusing on flexible definitions of job quality, being selective about employer partners, negotiating terms of employment on the behalf of clients and getting “under the tent” to go beyond training into issues such as recruitment, retentions and employee advancement.
Know the Territory– by building strong relationships with key stakeholders and major employers in key industries in their region of service.
Be Bold and Go Big– by seeking out ways to scale their services and impact in the current economy and working toward policies and systems change that can better enable workforce organizations to help employers and workers.
“These are common sense, strategic opportunities that can uplift workers and provide employers with the competitive advantage of a qualified workforce,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “But to succeed, we must be willing to invest civic, community and philanthropic resources into growing and scaling demonstrably effective solutions. Only then will we truly create a Next Gen workforce system.”
“These papers provide a powerful jumping off point for discussion of how we as organizations can ensure we are creating a system that serves both employers and workers effectively,” said Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director of SkillWorks. “We hope Jerry’s work is the first of many models that could be developed and scaled to create a Next Generation workforce.”
The Catapult Papers are available for download or online viewing at tbf.org/catapult.
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, brings people and resources together to solve Boston’s big problems. Established in 1915, it is one of the largest community foundations in the nation—with net assets of $1.3 billion. In 2018, the Foundation and its donors paid $129 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation works in close partnership with its donors, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. It also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a consulting unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.
Jewish Vocational Service in Boston (JVS) was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression to assist Jewish immigrants struggling to enter the American workforce and support their families. Today, JVS is among the oldest and largest providers of adult education and workforce development services in Greater Boston, serving a diverse clientele representing over 90 nations and speaking 50 languages, and helping people secure financial independence through educational and employment services. With over 75 years of demonstrated excellence in workforce development, JVS has a reputation for continuous innovation, building person-centered and performance-based models to improve outcomes and increase programmatic effectiveness.
Catapult is a project of the Boston Foundation in partnership with SkillWorks, a nationally recognized workforce funder collaborative within the Foundation. Catapult invests in the exponential growth of Greater Boston’s most effective, market-driven training and education organizations in partnership with the region’s most savvy businesses. Its goal is to help build a robust, “next generation” workforce development solution that can launch our untapped talent into new opportunities at a much faster, more sustained rate while also supporting and leveraging the long-term success of individuals and their employers via advancement, retention and strong employment practices. Catapult is driven by the knowledge that our current labor market’s unprecedented tension between the high demand to fill jobs and the low supply of workers ready to fill those jobs requires bold new approaches.